Using Social Data to Understand Individuals

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Social media analytics tend to focus on aggregate actions that take place on a particular platform. They can focus on aggregate audience — how much has my audience grown? — or aggregate engagement with particular pieces of content — how many likes did my most recent status update receive? What’s missing from much of the discussion in higher ed social media circles is a focus on the individuals who are contributing to these aggregate actions. Who are they? What do the care about? How do they want to connect to the institution? While there’s no doubt that focusing on individual members of our audiences is more difficult than pulling aggregate data from the analytics tools within the platforms, failure to do so is a missed opportunity. The identification, cultivation, engagement, and solicitation strategies what have been at the core of Advancement for decades depend heavily on detailed knowledge about our constituents. Data gathered from social media platforms can be a substantial asset to programs and practices that already exist, if we can just figure out how to connect the dots in a way that can scale.

In this show, the Stanford Alumni Association’s Director of Digital & Data Services Adam Miller and EverTrue CEO & Founder Brent Grinna join Host Andrew Gossen to talk about the challenges and opportunities presented by social data. While connecting the social media activity of individual members of an audience to the data about them already held by the institution is a challenge, tools such as EverTrue’s Giving Tree are emerging that make the process easier and get the resulting insights into the right hands more rapidly. And as several examples from Stanford demonstrate clearly, merging data from external and internal sources can be a substantial asset to senior leaders looking to make data-driven decisions about strategy, program managers looking to fine-tune their programs, and communications staff looking to segment audiences more efficiently and effectively. There’s a substantial payoff for the end-user, as well: targeted engagement opportunities that focus on channels and topics that are relevant to them, instead of the more generic outreach that they’ve received in the past.

 

This show was sponsored by

iModules

iModules Software is the leading constituent engagement management provider for educational institutions. iModules delivers an integrated, online platform that transforms how institutions strengthen constituent relationships and achieve fundraising success.

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  • http://www.philsimon.com/ Phil Simon

    While there’s no doubt that focusing on individual members of our audiences is more difficult than pulling aggregate data from the analytics tools within the platforms, failure to do so is a missed opportunity.

    No argument here. New tools allow us to find the signal in the noise. Those that are stuck in the 90s mind-set are squandering massive opportunities.

    • Andrew Gossen

      Phil, thanks for the comment. I agree completely. I’d like to see the conversation shift from one of how you justify making this sort of investment/commitment to the risk of *not* doing so. Being left behind is no way to run an organization.