Which universities use social media to connect with alumni?

I’m researching how colleges and universities are using social media to stay in touch with their alumni.

My own alma mater contacts me in many ways, but not through social media.

Does your university or college use social media to stay in touch with you? If so, I’d really appreciate it if you could tell me about it in a comment on this post.

Thank you for any help you can offer.

  • I graduated from Kent State University in Ohio in 2005. I’m not sure about the entire university, but the PRKent program most definitely embraces social media to maintain a close network of PRKent alums.

    Professors blog and participate in online social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn.

    Here are a couple of urls to PRKent prof blogs:
    http://www.toughsledding.wordpress.com
    http://www.prontherun.wordpress.com

    Hope this helps…
    -Kait

  • Yes, several colleges I attended in the past use social media to communicate with students and alumni. One is Beloit College, in Wisconsin, which has several social networks, including for alumni geographic areas. You can link your blog or web site to the college alumni sites.

    San Francisco State University has at least one alumni In Circle social network (Beloit also has an In Circle, as well as other social networks). You can create a profile and link other sites and blogs to the network.

    I was a guest artist/professor at Mills College, in Oakland, California, and they have a number of social networks and email groups by department and interest. I’m on several of their half dozen or so New Music lists, for example.

    I’ve also taken classes at other colleges and universities, and I know some of them use social networks. For example, I’ve attended conferences and special events at Stanford, and they have many social networks. I believe UC Berkeley does, too. I’d be surprised if very many colleges and universities do NOT have social networks now. Certainly, they are ideal for alumni and fund-raising, event promotion, and recruiting new students. I’ll be interested to learn what your research uncovers.

    Cathryn

  • Let’s see. Undergrad school sends me emails and the occasional printed invitation to some golf thing.

    Grad school (NYU) doesn’t know where I am, so I don’t know what they do.

    Ryerson (post-grad) sends me a glossy alum magazine (which is very nicely done) and frequent offers of life insurance.

    Not very social, no.

  • I graduated from the University of Washington and they use their own system, myUW, a wiki of sorts to communicate alumni information. They’ve branded it as “your personal webpage” and it contains information tailored according to one’s status (undergrad,grad, alumna).

  • I graduated from University of the Pacific, and I have to say that despite some upgrades they are failing miserably. For example, the university has not agreed to provide alumni.uop.edu type addresses to allow alumni to affiliate with the university through Facebook.

  • I graduated from the University of King’s College in Halifax. Within the last year or so, a few alumni facebook groups have been started and managed by individuals at the request of the alumni association.

    Mainly, these are facebook groups for the regional alumni associations. They’re used to send invitations to official and unofficial school related functions in the area, and to host some discussions–that tend to meet with little success.

    I’m not sure if it’s an intended communications strategy, the result of a limited budget, or a combination of the two, but King’s social media activity seems pretty grassroots.

    The Nova Scotia Community College, where I recieved my PR training, seems as if it’s trying to get into the space, but isn’t sure how. Granted, it’s a completely different, far more diffuse and probably less engaged audience.

    Other than facebook, I haven’t really seen much happening in the way of new media. There aren’t any new official blogs, podcasts, etc. going on to reach out to alumni that I’ve heard about. Admittedly, though, I haven’t really been looking either.

  • I have found a lot of the communities I was part of at university (Carleton School of Journalism) use social media tools but nothing really formally from the J-skool or the university proper, save for an email listserv-type thing that the J-skool uses to send around job opportunities.

    The informal things include Facebook groups for alumni of the campus newspaper and my journalism grad class – that sort of thing.

  • Ashley

    Many students at the University of Georgia seem to take it upon themselves to stay connected through communities like facebook or MySpace. UGA/Grady College communicate via list-servs and snail mail for the most part.

    However, as Grady is working to incorporate social media into their curriculum, I think we’ll see this new wave of graduates connecting more and more via twitter, class blogs, etc. I’ve found several professors and classmates online and hope that more alums from previous years will take advantage of these social media connections.

  • Thank you all for your comments. Together with the responses I received on Twitter, I have a much better picture of what is, or in this case, is NOT happening out there.

  • Undergrad – Western (UWO) – I asked them to stop sending me their newsletter for environmental reasons. They continue to send me letters with life insurance offers, and the occasional invitation to networking events. I generally hear from them quarterly, by phone, when they’re soliciting a donation. Nothing email or social media based.

    Master’s – UQAM – nothing

    Diploma – McGill – nothing

    I’ve also taken the odd course at l’Université de Montréal and Concordia – nothing from them either.

  • Andrea

    I graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in June of 2007. I was very involved in PR student organizations on campus and I landed a job at a large agency in Portland right out of college. Since then, I have had numerous students from Oregon contact me asking how I liked my job, what it is like working for a large agency, and if I could pass their resumes onto HR.

    How did most of these students contact me? Facebook. Although we didn’t directly learn in college to use social media as a networking tool (although who knows? PR curriculum is changing so fast I could just be out of the loop 🙂 ) many of these students are taking the principles of what they learn about social media in their PR classes and transferring the information to other areas. I think it is really interesting how young PR professionals are using social media to network with recent graduates, and I predict that this might become the norm as more people join the social media world.

  • Eliana Sutton Balaban

    My alma mater, huron university college, has a facebook group for Alum

  • Inga Wheeler

    I am writing my Masters thesis in Public Relations on the use of Social Media at Canadian colleges and universities, specifically how they communicate with current students and the community.

    If there is any published (or unpublished) research that might help me, I would appreciate the information. Will the information gathered here be available?

    In my research so far, I have not found any institution that does a good or even decent job employing Social Media – does someone know of a school in Canada or the US that is agressively pursuing Social Media as communications tools.

  • Hi Inga,
    I’ve found that the responses to my question was pretty much the same both in the comments to this post and on my Twitter stream – universities and colleges are still using the same channelsthey’ve used for years – primarily email, snail mail and telephone solicitations – to stay in touch with their alumni. There’s a smattering of Facebook – but to no great effect.

    I’m starting a project with a Canadian university that is looking at the potential to incorporate social media and social networks into their alumni relations. I’ll encourage them to publish their experience as a case study.

  • Inga Wheeler

    Thank you so much, Joseph.

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  • Our alumni department at Marywood University (Scranton, PA) is just delving into the social networking arena by utilizing Facebook, Myspace, a blog on the WordPress platform, widgets, and a Ning Page.

    http://marywoodalumnionline.wordpress.com

    http://marywoodalumnionline.ning.com/

    http://cwis.marywood.edu/www2/prweb/alumni/