Universities are typically on the cutting edge of progress and many have embraced new digital technologies and social media platforms, but I’m impressed how my Alma Mater Northwestern University is reaching out to its alumni. For example, I recently got an email inviting me to watch a live webcast of the inauguration of the new president – complete with optional viewing of several discussion panels, a chat room for alumni, a 360-degree tour of the campus and various online, interactive games and  activities. Nothing revolutionary, but combine this with the fact the email serves as a de-facto portal to other relevant platforms – such as the NU Facebook page, LinkedIn group, YouTube channel, student podcasts and various websites – and you have a user-friendly digital entry to all things Northwestern.

By coincidence, I received a fundraising letter last week which pointed me to these same platforms. Similarly, direct outreach to me via email (notably asking me to serve as mentor for new graduate students) is integrated with these platforms. I just joined the local NU chapter, but I suspect it will also be seamlessly connected to these other efforts. If I have one quibble with all this, it’s that there is no obvious place to engage in online conversation with peers or university officials on these platforms (excluding Facebook…which is more about students talking to each other.) A leadership blog would be a good mechanism to address this shortcoming (if it exists…I can’t find it.)

This serves as a good example that a social media strategy does not need to be complex or full of dazzling applications – pulling together relevant tools and applications in a relevant, convenient package is a worthy enough objective. Now if we could only beat Michigan the world would be a better place….

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