Friday, June 5, 2009

Alumni Associations = Twitter FAIL -- Part2

I have received some wonderful interaction (both online and off) from part one of this series and this research. This interaction has led to some adjustments I am considering and I'd like to hear what you think about some of these ideas.

Don't just lurk, feel free to chime in on the comments, I'm happy to hear ideas from friends I haven't met yet. One of those friends is Katie, who chimed in on the comments of the previous post. I even got to spend some time on the phone with Katie today. We had a good, invigorating conversation...I love when online introductions turn into offline interaction. (go to a tweetup some time, you'll really like it)

Anyway, a few things that have hit me as we are half way through this experimental analysis...


I need to come out and admit this right away. The title and opening paragraphs of my initial post on this topic were intentionally over the top.
It was my intent to pull readers, especially alumni association officers, all the way into the research. It is not my intention to publish a scathing diatribe about collective ignorance. I pledge to leave this kind of tactic in post one, and intentionally become affirming and offer help in the remaining posts on this topic. If the use of this tactic lured you in to reading, I'm happy for that. However, I don't want you to hide this report or it's findings from your VP or director because it felt like I had an agenda to make you look ignorant.

That being said, I am going to allow the numbers to be what they are, even if that means they are brutal.

There are a handful of Associations in the data that are doing remarkable with their feeds. Only a portion of this partial study has been published. I chose not to make any commentary on any individual feed, but there are some conclusions you can start to draw from looking at this limited data set.


Baker alludes to this in his comment on the first posting. I had an offline conversation with him that expounded this idea. I initially chose to show a glimpse of two twitter power users, Beth Kanter and Chris Brogan, in the partial findings. I wanted to give a view of how their scores are coming out, not because I intended a comparison to show that Alumni Associations were awful. Instead, I wanted to give context to the scores generated by the twitter analytic tool I used. I would love to compare the AA feeds to the average or aggregate twitter user, but I don't know where to find a tool that can give those numbers. I could find or choose several random twitter users to establish this baseline, but I believe it might be more appropriate to compare AA analysis to a brand name or business organization. I think this point should be open for discussion. I'll be happy to take suggestions of who or how to establish an appropriate comparative baseline in the comments of this post.


This idea came from the conversation I had with Katie. Her concern was that AA behavior and tweet habits might be affected based on the partial release of the findings. Feed managers like her will react to this release by awareness that I'm watching. This would result in skewed results for the second half of the data.

Scientifically, this is true.

Practically, I @replied to about 35 of the AA profiles that I was examining with a link to the blog post. I have heard from 6. I think a control group might naturally emerge from among those who hardly read their @replies.

Katie's suggestion also means recruiting a few feeds that were not in the study to take us up on the findings and recommendations we make once the study is over. Let's see if our recommendations are effective. That turns this into a much project for me. (A second project, in fact)

Either way, I'd love your thoughts on this point that Katie brings up.


Bill asked me this in an offline conversation. I think the foundation of this question is wondering if I am suggesting that twitter is the thing Alumni Associations should be involved with.


I like the idea of doing a similar analysis of facebook and Linkedin. Katie pointed me to Alumni Futures. This is written by Cal Tech's, Andy Shaindlin. His colleague, Elizabeth Allen, has written in several places about Linkedin best practices. Facebook recommendations are all over the place. I guess I just needed to start some place with twitter. I do think that objectives and strategy are important. I think those should be determined before AA's dive into any one of these technologies.


I have heard several variations of this comment, and I think it is fair to bring up. I used some language in the opening paragraphs of the first post that would lead some to believe that I think a certain way about most of the AA twitter profiles that have been opened. That they are being managed without thought or examination of objectives or strategy. Though that may be the case for many of these feeds, I don't think it's true of all of them. Some of this analysis will come out in the final report and recommendations I'll put together.

That being said, I do believe there is well-intentioned, but faulty, strategy that exists among these feeds. I would like to refrain from talking about this too much prior to the data being collected completely. I am eager to engage in this as a constructive conversation. I think I have some practical suggestions that Alumni Associations can apply that will create both efficiency in the amount of time they spend while increase the engagement level of their alum followers.

If you have any metrics that measure effectiveness of your twitter strategy that are not represented in the tools I selected, I would love to know either the metric you want counted or a tool I might use to capture those numbers.


My plan is to collect data three more times over the next two weeks. This will give us a look at the numbers over a month-long period of time. I plan to invite suggestions into the process along the way so the results are both beneficial and encouraging to the Alumni Association community. Feel free to leave your suggestions.