IDPE 2016 roundtable – ‘online content that gets results’

On the morning of Tuesday 14th June at the IDPE Conference 2016, ToucanTech (known at the time as “Pelicanconnect”) founder Sian Morley-Smith along with guest speaker Sara Eastwood (Alumni officer at Concord College) sat down with delegates from 15 schools and discussed ‘Online content that gets results’!

After touching on some of the basics of creating online content (e.g. What is newsworthy content? What tends to go viral? Structuring headlines etc) we plunged into discussion, sharing ideas amongst the group on the below topics:

Which types of content gave the best results in terms of reads, comments and shares?

It was universally acknowledged by the group that obituaries of loved people within the alumni community inevitably generate large numbers of story reads, comments and shares. Other popular types of content noted were: Event write-ups (particularly those including images), interviews with key people at the school (staff, alumni) and targeted email shots (perhaps sharing content relevant to a particular year group!). How to track shares and reads varied, but it was agreed that having some visibility of this data was important for repeating successes!

How to use mass social media groups and pages (e.g. Facebook/ LinkedIn) to distribute content whilst protecting your school and avoiding the dangers of relying too heavily on your groups/ online trolling/ bullying and disgruntled alumni?

Facebook was described as a ‘necessary evil’: an essential communications portal for content distribution that needs to be managed extremely carefully and closely. Some key takeaway points from the discussion:

  • Using Facebook to share a link to content published on your alumni site is one of the most powerful ways to drive alumni traffic back to your website!
  • Always make sure you (as an official at the school) are the Facebook page admin
  • Lock down the ability to make comments or posts on the page wall to admins only
  • Carefully monitor comments on posts you make, blocking any trouble makers and deleting their comments
  • Consider filing for a Trademark for your school or even your alumni brand name – you then have the legal right to shut down any fake alumni pages or websites masquerading as your brand. It was also noted that this would ideally be seen as a last resort action and every attempt should be made to work together with any ‘doppelgänger’ first – ideally have them hand control of a page or website over to you so that you don’t loose the followers.

How you can use online content to crowdsource answers and generate discussion to help your alumni?

Sara Eastwood described a recently successful piece of content she had posted onto Concord College Alumni (a ToucanTech alumni network).

Sara had received a request for help from one of her alumni who was looking to relocate to Singapore. After speaking to her alumnus and finding out more, Sara posted a story onto her Concord alumni network entitled ‘Career & Life advice about Singapore’ and then pinged a quick email to anyone in her database who lived in Singapore to share the story with them. Not only has this resulted in many reads and shares from the community, but more importantly there are lots of helpful comments, new connections and relationships for her alumnus – who now has a mini-Concord network set up in Singapore ready for when she moves there! Sara intends to use this story as a case study to demonstrate to her network the power of being a member of the online alumni network!

A big thank-you to all who attended our session, we really enjoyed facilitating the discussion and hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please get in touch if you’d like handouts from the session or if you’d like to book an educational workshop on the topic of “Online Content” for your school! hello@toucantech.com

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