What platform should we use? Alumni Community


(Hannah Brown) #1

Hi there,
We’re launching a new alumni programme, which is a new strand to the business and are currently exploring online platform options. I’ve worked with a website that’s shared data with a central database and offered CRM solutions before and know it’s benefits, but this was within the charity sector and the vendor was more niche to this sector.
This new alumni community sits within the corporate/commercial space and although I appreciate that there’s fundamental elements that apply to the management of any online community, I’m eager to know if anyone’s found an existing popular platform (google groups, facebook, LinkedIn etc) that ticks all the boxes in facilitating both their community and company needs (in terms of engagement and data management) and if so, what they are?! I’m keen to work with a platform that our members are already familiar with if at all possible, rather than something that sits separately.
Many thanks!
Hannah


So, what are you working on?
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hey Hannah,
Welcome! Good on you for jumping straight in.

I’ve moved your question to a new topic so it gets some focus.

@Suzi_Nelson runs a very successful Facebook based community but is looking to transition off it onto a dedicated platform because it isn’t meeting her needs. I’ll let her fill you in with the details.

@Mjbill moved his community off a forum platform and back onto Faceboook (I think – is that right Mark)?

@diana_tower will also be able to add to this conversation.

Here are my thoughts on social media platforms vs forums. In short, platforms like Facebook are great in that you have that familiarity and the habit exists, but you don’t own your data and you won’t benefit from content SEO.

We recently launched a platform comparison tool which let’s you choose your required features and then weigh up the options. That won’t help with the ‘tool that people are already familiar with’ requirement, but it might be useful to look at anyway.


(Hannah Brown) #3

Thanks, Sarah. It’s such a fine line between choosing a platform that does what your company needs it to and one that your community may be more likely to engage with. Thank you for sharing the platform comparison tool, which is a terrific resource.


(Sarah Hawk) #4

I’ll re-nudge those people to get some extra insight. Where are you at with your thinking now?


(Mark Baldwin) #5

Sorry, I missed this first time round. Yes, you are right. When I started working for my current employer, I inherited a community that had been left to it’s own devices for quite some time. The forum was not a nice place to be and it was a bit of a mess. We decided that it would be best to start from scratch and given the industry (mobile games) and needs of the community, we decided they would be better served through social media. It works well for us. We built the Facebook community up to 1.3 million fans and it’s much easier to manage. I need this to be easy because I also have many other hats to wear. It’s a small company and I need to do support, PR and marketing jobs too.

I think our circumstances are unusual, but it certainly worked for us. No regrets here.


(Sarah Hawk) #6

I think it’s important to remember that if you get the community concept right then provided the platform is well configured, it shouldn’t be a hindrance to engagement.


(Alexis Koplen) #7

Hi @hannah.brown,

I have seen a lot of very successful Alumni Programs that are utilizing Salesforce Cloud Community. The Salesforce platform does an excellent job of fostering collaboration and conversations for the alumni, but also gives the business an opportunity to see growth through their advanced reporting and analytics. 7Summits has a lot of experience in the higher education community sector if you are ever interested to learn more or have questions : )

Best,
Alexis


(Hannah Brown) #8

Really helpful, thanks Mark!


(Hannah Brown) #9

Hi Alexis,
We have Salesforce, so this is great to hear! I will investigate further. Many thanks for your help!
Hannah


(Nick Emmett) #10

This is a crucial piece of information for me - if you’re already using Salesforce then the benefits of using their Community solution and keeping everything on platform outweigh using an off-platform solution. The ability to connect all the data in your CRM to all the data in your community is just unmatched in my opinion.


(Sarah Hawk) #11

A post was split to a new topic: Advice on platforms that prioritize the integration of e-commerce functionality