Wavelength’s Multinetwork- How to Make Alumni Networks Actually Work

Wavelength’s Multinetwork- How to Make Alumni Networks Actually Work

Originally posted by Chris G., CEO and Founder of Wavelength

Connecting with people on social media takes time, effort, and in some cases, luck. Adding another social media platform to the mix doesn’t do anyone any favors, so we didn’t. Instead, we made Wavelength all about the data — and making the data do the hard work on behalf of the organizations that need it (rather than asking the organizations to invest time and effort they don’t have).

This is what we mean: Rather than pulling information about users from LinkedIn or from Facebook, we’re using our technology to plug into public data sources -both legally and securely — to collect publicly available information about any user that joins the Wavelength network. With something as simple as a user’s email address, Wavelength can create a rich user profile, complete with accurate information about location, job history, group affiliations, and beyond. Better yet, we can do this at scale. Still have questions? Read our data policies.

This becomes beneficial not only to the user — who exerts minimum effort to create a profile and access the networks of their known affiliations — but to the very networks they’ve been part of.

On day one, an organization can get 60–70% of its alumni on the platform with enriched data.

It requires no internal promotion, no hand-holding, no complicated onboarding. The information has always been there, Wavelength just made it easy and convenient for you to get.

We then provide one user-friendly space for managing data, sending emails, searching networks, collecting donations, and much more.

And unlike Facebook or Linkedin which sells a User’s data for a quick buck, we don’t. We give users control over what data is shared with whom.

While Wavelength may sound optimal for large public universities that have amassed hundreds of thousands of alumni over the years, the benefits of our platform extend from large universities to small affinity groups.

This is how we thought about it on a smaller scale: When a user changes jobs, for example, they’re not going out of their way to update their college alumni database, fraternity or sorority alumni groups, volunteer groups, and beyond.

Expanding on what we mentioned earlier, what couldbe useful information becomes lost to anyone who’s not connected. So Wavelength changed that with something we call Multinetwork.

Multinetwork works in a way that no other directory can. It aggregates networks, allowing users to search all of their networks and then ranks search results by what’s most relevant to that user.

If they’re associated with a fraternity, for example, they have access to any other user associated with that fraternity, rather than limiting them to whether or not they directly know every other user in the network. Similarly, if that same user is part of a volunteer organization, they have access to that entire network as well, multiplying their reach with every group they associate with.

Let’s say that user experiences a life change, like a career switch or a cross-country move. All they have to do is update their oneprofile on Wavelength, and Wavelength takes care of keeping their affiliated organizations up-to-date, requiring no additional effort on behalf of the user or the organizations. If that same person decides they want to make a few donations to the organizations they care about — rather than seeking out the donations pages across all of those organizations, they can come to Wavelength and do it all in one secure place.

From the start, our mission has always been to make it easy to reach the right people in ways that are meaningful and helpful to all — organizations and individuals alike.

We built Wavelength ethically so that users control their data from day one. We’re not about the likes or the friend requests or the clickbait content. We do data, search, email, and donations, and we do them well. Check out Wavelength.

Maintaining Data Accuracy

Accurate data is necessary to maintain meaningful contact with your constituents. Unfortunately, ensuring up to date data is difficult for several reasons:

  • Data decays at 25% a year as people move, change jobs, and more.
  • Reminding an alma mater of their changing information is last on someone’s mind as they go through these major life changes.
  • Constituents aren’t inclined to give you their data if they don’t see a reason behind it. Your alumni don’t want to just be considered for donations. What are you doing for them?

Understanding the challenges to accurate data helps you to address the issue head on.

An “update your information” tab on your alumni site will have limited success because your alumni will not actively navigate to your site to update you on their life changes. They also don’t know what information you do or do not have on file.

Wavelength’s Solution: “Confirm Your Data.” Send personalized emails to your users with the information you do have on file for them. Provide a unique URL to the constituent to click in and make changes easily. (Wavelength’s convenient mail merge does this all for you!)

You may face push back when requesting accurate data from your constituents if you do not have a reason behind needing this information. Why should an alum update you? What will you do with this information and is their data privacy maintained?

Wavelength’s Solution: Data forward features. Foster constituent engagement by showing them the perks of information. Provide your community with map based search prompting networking opportunities, reconnections with classmates, and the ability for you as a school to better target your outreach to your users.

Retaining alumni engagement takes a concerted effort and a diverse feature offering is required to be relevant to a wide range of alumni ages and interests. Data updates should be linked with other alumni engagement initiatives so you continue to have your alumni return over time.

Wavelength’s Solution: Be there when and where your alumni need you. Offer opportunities for local gatherings, classmate reunions, career opportunities, and volunteering so that a wide variety of alumni feel like you are there for them. Wavelength isn’t a replacement for social media or a content zone for your alumni. Our platform is here for when your constituents want to actively engage with your community.

So, when you think about your data, how are you maintaining up to date information? Do you have a strategy moving forward?

Privacy is Key to Creating a Strong, Modern Alumni Community.

You are a steward of your alums’ information. You need this information to engage alumni. But how do you nurture your community while maintaining user privacy?

Strong, private communities value two things, transparency and control.

  • Transparency means that your alums know what you and other alums know about them.
  • Control means that they can change this information.

Let alumni choose what contact information is visible.

You have private info about your alumni. They know this. They expect you to use your discretion. Most people don’t want thousands to know their private cell number. So you probably shouldn’t share it.

Email addresses can be more public. Alumni have more control over their email and tend to share it more often. Giving out someone’s email isn’t a violation of their privacy when you think sharing will create a mutually beneficial relationship.

The key is to have sensible privacy defaults. Hide the phone number and share the email address.

Once they know who sees what, alums should be able to change these privacy settings.

Some may feel comfortable sharing their phone number. Others may want to hide their email address. You should do the following to create a strong privacy-minded organization:

  1. Show them the information you have about them.
  2. Indicate who can see what information.
  3. Finally let them choose their privacy settings.

Privacy settings are more than contact info visibility. You have someone’s email address so you can send them that newsletter. Lots of people want this update, but some may not. Good privacy settings means smart subscription controls.

Make it easy to opt out.

Alumni have lots going on. They have the same problem as everyone on Monday mornings. Lots of email in an inbox and too many to-dos. Don’t add to this headache if they don’t want to hear from you.

It’s counter intuitive.

You will strengthen your community by letting people opt out of emails.

It’s a win-win. You can send content to people that get excited about it. People that aren’t don’t get burdened.

So let people opt out. No reason to harm your relationships. You run the risk of people reporting your message as spam. That’s bad and your deliverability will go down dramatically.

Let people opt out in your inbox without signing into anything.

Transparency and control are just as important to email subscriptions as other privacy settings.

Be transparent about:

  • What you are sending
  • How frequently you send messages

Then give them the control to opt-out. Make sure they know where they can sign in to re-engage if they want.

Letting people opt out means that you can cater your content to the people that actually care. You will see better open rates and more engagement.

Strong alumni communities maintain user privacy. Be thoughtful about transparency and control in your privacy and email settings and you are well on your way.

Originally published at http://content.searchwavelength.com.

How Wavelength Communicates with Your Alumni about Data

How Wavelength Communicates with Your Alumni about Data

Alumni know that you will likely use third parties to keep up to date. But they want to know you are a good steward of their private information. Transparency is key.

You should be able to answer questions about:

  • Where you get your data
  • How you get your data
  • Potential inaccuracies in your data

These answers should be easily accessible. If you are using Wavelength, here is some more helpful information.

Where and How Wavelength Gets Alumni Data

Wavelength connects with its data partners’ API and pays to find data. Data providers use algorithms similar to Google to find alumni data. This information is publicly available. These algorithms respect user privacy. When users keep their data private, Wavelength can’t find it.

Learn more in Where does Wavelength Data come from.

Wavelength’s Alumni Data Accuracy

Wavelength gives you the best data on the most alumni. It optimizes result accuracy by sending additional context to its data providers. It also requires that results pass an accuracy threshold (the likelihood the result is accurate).

It still doesn’t have 100% accuracy. 5% of profiles matched have incorrect data. Wavelength’s inaccuracies are small compared to most third party data enrichment services.

The problem still remains, how do you use third party data, knowing that some of it will be wrong?

To convince alumni that you are a good steward of their data, you need to be transparent.

It’s better to say up front, “Hey, here is what we know. It may be inaccurate. We use services to help us keep up to date. If it is wrong, please help us correct this information.”

Alumni respond well to this transparency. And Wavelength has tested this messaging. Alumni appreciate that they know what you know and don’t know. They like that they can control their data moving forward.

Now they understand where data is coming from. Most importantly they feel better about your group. You’ve been transparent about their data, how you’ve tried to improve it, and the potential inaccuracies.

In most cases it doesn’t matter. Wavelength has very accurate data. Emails have a ~60% hit rate of finding more fields like career, location, and social profiles. Over 95% of the enriched data is accurate.

Want to read more about Wavelength and Data? Read our. And if you want to know why alumni data is so important to your alumni strategy, read Data Polices, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service Alumni Data and Engagement: Nearly Everything You Need to Know.

Originally published at http://content.searchwavelength.com.

Messaging to your Constituents

Your constituents are important members of your school community. They may be donors, parents of children, event goers, and they have the opportunity to be your word of mouth marketing. So how do you communicate with them that aligns with your school’s mission and vision while maintaining personalized and relevant contact points? Below is a simple 3 step approach to ensure your messaging is on brand and relevant.

Depending on your organization, you may be a one (wo)man show, part of a team that handles marketing, or there might be a whole other office dedicated to communication strategy. Regardless, the same principles will apply to any structure!

Step 1: Confirm the key messaging around your school. What are prospective students learning about your school? What are the “pillars” you stand by? Consider a “Brand House.” What is your mission statement? What are the 3 to 4 foundational components of your school that support this vision?

Step 2: Determine a list of features and benefits that deliver on these foundations. Example: Your school promotes the idea of students being prepared for the workforce. School feature: Senior Spring Internships

Step 3: Develop your content. As you begin to capture the stories and content you wish to share with your constituents, make sure the stories are relevant. Does the story align to your foundational pillars? Are your stories diverse in what angle and content you are sharing to be relevant to a wide array of individuals? Is there a “so what” to the article. Why is this important to know and how did your school influence the outcome of this story?

There are always so many stories one could share with an audience. The power is choosing the ones that best represent your school with a meaningful message. Not every story is going to be of interest to every user hence the above exercise to ensure you have a variety of topics captured. In addition, if you start seeing that your content might only be relevant to one subset of your constituents, target them directly with the message rather than oversharing to a larger population that might be disinterested or less likely to open your next communication.