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