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Research carried by Dr Ronald Burt of the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business indicates that whilst attachment to an institution declines over time, connections with other graduates inhibits this erosion.

This research is a great read and begs an interesting question…

If online social networking websites such as Facebook continue to enable graduates to maintain and recover university friendships, will alumni affinity towards the university improve with little or no assistance of alumni professionals departments?

Can you afford to sit back and hope that it does?

Attachment, Decay and Social Network appeared in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol. 22, issue vi, (September 2001), pp. 619-643.

Attachment, decay, and social network [PDF]

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Companies such as Virgin Radio continually demonstrate what digital success looks like to their staff. They have a plasma screen in their office devoted to a number of key statistics about their community.

Should Alumni professionals be doing something similar too?

If you have a spare minute I would strongly recommend that you give the Virgin Radio Website a visit.

You can see a scrolling activity wall with information about what the station’s listeners have been doing on their website. The Virgin team uses this information to assess their performance and improve what they do.

A lot of University alumni communication is now conducted in digital form. Perhaps it’s time Alumni teams started tracking everything all their communications like Virgin do, and only then make decisions on the resulting analysis.

Key statistics for an alumni department:

  • The number of graduates using your website right now, over the last 24 hours, and during the last 7 days
  • The number of alumni registered on your website
  • The number of alumni you are in touch through other communication channels
  • The total number in your alumni community
  • The most popular news stories and events, emails, and blog posts

What other statistics would be useful to you and your team?

Would it be useful to review these statistics every week as a team?

What goals could you set to improve on them?

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When my ears turn bright red and feel hot to the touch, my friends often remark that someone must be talking about me behind my back. If I wanted to find out what they were saying, you may be surprised to find out that it’s certainly a lot easier these days.

Websites such as Blogpulse, Technorati, and Google Alerts can deliver you blog and website postings featuring your Institution name or other key words.

If you’d like to listen to what your alumni are saying about you, or for that matter what they are getting up to, these websites are definitely worth using. Finding stories for all your publications has got a whole lot easier!

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