Alumni magazines… surviving Facebook?

Alumni magazines in the social media world: can they survive Facebook? 

Given the short attention span to most tweets (at least for mine… tracking shows that most things get noticed in about 5 to 10 minutes or not at all), I always pay close attention to anything that breaks the norm and continues to draw interest over an extended time.

One of those this week has been a link to a report in the NY Times re the challenge for alumni magazines to retain interest in the social media era. In “College Alumni Magazines Struggle to Compete with Facebook,” the NYT notes that young alumni have little patience with “password protected sites” that restrict the immediacy of posting information similar to what’s in the popular class notes section of printed and online alumni magazines.

So far, 8 people have done RTs on the original tweet and 67 people have followed the link since June 15. That includes readers in Canada, Finland, Australia, the U.K. and four “other” countries besides the U.S.

Controlling the “privacy” of class notes at Colgate University

The reason most often given for restricting immediate posting of class notes is privacy. Without some form of screening, how can anyone know that an item about a particular person is indeed coming from that person? In the social media era, the answer is that you can’t.

At Colgate University, for instance, a 2000 graduate who wants to submit a class note to the online magazine sends it by email to a member of the class who has, presumably, volunteered to do the screening. That step preserves the “walled garden” approach that keeps rabbits from eating the plants. But in the social media world, the rabbits have other places to play. Why worry about a wall when you can just hop to another garden without one?

Colgate alumni at the official FB site

Compare that to the Colgate University site on Facebook, where 6,216 people “like” what’s happening. Visit soon and note the update from alumnus Andy Krulewitz that includes a link to a new YouTube video about his recent trip to Europe, comments re the last alumni reunion event, and an invite from a local restaurant to stop for breakfast. Colgate on FB is a lively place.

As the NYT notes, alumni magazines and their expensive budgets exist in no small part to maintain alumni engagement that leads to alumni donations. How much will this role change over the next 10 years?

That’s all for now 


One Comment

  1. Great post as usual Bob, thanks for doing so. I agree with everything in there. Do you think that Facebook almost did this on purpose for all the amount of exposure, with the privacy thing?
    Lots of exposure for Facebook!
    if you want to read more about higher education marketing, please see
    matt (marketmpb)

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