I have called and spoken to a couple of hundred Alumni Association Directors coordinators to get their feedback on having a private social network for their Alumni. Almost eighty percent of them tell me that they have a LinkedIn Group or Facebook Group and that was sufficient for them at this point.
Here are ten reasons why a LinkedIn Group is not a good solution for a secure and private social network for your Alumni.
- LinkedIn provides groups and subgroup discussion boards however it is not easy to find a mentor or any specific person you need within a huge alumni network using these groups.¬† Building mentor-mentee relationships and networks is what a private Alumni network can do better by providing mentoring networks.
2. Organizing paid events can be done with something like event organization software like EventBrite which can be integrated into your website. This is impossible to do with LinkedIn at this point.
3. A limit of 50 emails that can be sent out at a time is imposed by LinkedIn.¬† Most of the time, these networks span thousands of alumni and it is very unproductive use of your time to split these people up in to batches of fifty.
4. LinkedIn finally owns the domain name and the content. For SEO purposes, this doesn’t serve you well. Let’s say an organization would like to appear on the first page in Google and Bing search results for “Fairleigh Dickinson Alumni”,¬† they will not be found for a search on Fairleigh just having a LinkedIn Group. Besides, all of the alumni alma maters have domain names already. All that the alumni association would need to do is create a subdomain on the same website, which can be as simple as creating a sub directory and a webmaster’s help to change your web server settings.
5. LinkedIn cannot provide a home page or a shopping cart or other features that your website can provide for you.
6. Cost wise, a website can be hosted for as little as $5 a month for much greater returns for your business or non-profit organization. The groups and other features can come for almost free with the plethora of social networking software available.
7. Subscriptions to email notificaitons, event alerts can be set up according to your own preferences. Individual blogs for well known inspirational stories by Alumni members can be published for the benefit of other alumni.
8. LinkedIn can provide alumni networks based on which school or college or company you worked for. However, the Alumni association can organize based on a specific and niche “Alpha Science Society” that only you had in your alma mater and to which only a fraction of the alumni belonged. Whereas you can highlight this group whenever they have an event on your Alumni page page.
9. LinkedIn Group discussions are not always relevant to what you do or want to do. It is too general a group. In a private alumni network, you can not only set up a page with several discussion boards based on specific interests.
10. As LinkedIn content grows, it will need to be archived and backed up over the years. Although, they do provide means to download the content that belongs to a group, it would be much more beneficial to keep your content on a central place that you own on the cloud instead of having to store it on portable media that you can easily misplace.