Facebook – Competitor and/or Complement?

MiraAlumni Relations, social media

This was one of the big discussions on this year Swedish National Alumni Conference. During the last couple of month the amount of Swedish members on Facebook increased in huge amounts – and fast! That’s why many alumni co-ordinators in Sweden asks themselves the question “How do I best react to Facebook?”

Ulf Asklin is the alumni co-ordinator of Chalmers University. He laid the groundwork for the discussion by giving a very good outline description of general web behaviour in Sweden. He also shared with us his advice and points of view on the subject “Facebook – Competitor or complement?”. After this the discussion started.

Some things were agreed upon. Yes, Facebook is a competitor but is too big to compete with! So instead it’s better to focus energy on finding new creative ways to make Facebook a complement. It was also agreed that this is something we have to get used to. Right now we have to react to Facebook but more will come and the chances are that more will disappear too. For how long will Facebook be around? What will come next?

The web is dynamic. When alumni relation moved from the excel sheets to the web our activity also became dynamic. Our younger users are not as loyal as the generations before. So how do we keep the long term relationship whit the much differentiated alumni group dynamic and attractive? This is the key questions.

Even though nobody came up with the perfect formula I can happily report that everybody hade many very creative suggestions on how to handle the situation with social communities on the web. Here are some examples:

Focus on what you can give that social communitys can’t! As an example, we have our alumnus whole student history saved in Ladok – how can we use this smarter?

Never never stop development the technical side of your activity! Never settled. It takes time and the result always gets better when the technical solution follows the idea. So keep the ideas flowing and register even the smallest needs you notice.

And many more!

Facebook and other social communitys will affect alumni activity in Sweden- and might even change it – but will not be its doom.