No One Wants Another Facebook

Posted by Chris Gibson on Dec 13, 2018 2:00:44 PM
Chris Gibson
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Facebook has peaked. We talk about it with friends, we feel it, and the data shows it. We don’t need to rehash Cambridge Analytica or Facebook’s dereliction of its duty to protect user data. Enough has been written about these topics.

LinkedIn has similarly chained itself to technology addiction with its cluttered ads and connection requests. But while Facebook’s addictive news feed might provide little real value, Linkedin is useful. In certain industries like consulting, finance, and sales, it is a great tool for finding a job. But for many others it lacks appeal. Where are the teachers? The doctors?

Social networks that started out as useful tools for staying in touch and creating meaningful connections became platforms that lost their vision — and lost engagement as a result.

The internet is far different from what it was in 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg started the company. Then, we didn’t even have smartphones. Now, everyone’s competing for a piece of our attention — there are billions of dollars at stake trying to get us to spend more time on pieces of addictive technology, and we’ve had enough.

In this landscape, groups like universities, high schools, camps, and student groups barely make it on the map. They’re relegated to the corner in Facebook or LinkedIn groups, whose true purpose is to feed a social media advertising machine.

We’re not the only ones to recognize this, but unfortunately the only solutions currently offered feel like light versions of existing social media. Newsfeeds, profiles, likes, and comments, but without the traffic to make them useful or interesting. To us, they feel like big houses with no one inside. And they cost organizations money and time to acquire and maintain them.

Organizations buy these social media lite tools because they try to believe the hype. A tool where people post photos, attend events, and message each other daily sounds incredible. They are sold on the idea that engagement is going to go through the roof and their capital campaigns will be funded immediately.

Let’s get real. A 1000-person network will never be a tool that people use to find career connections.

Top organizations that have pushed their standalone directories see ~17% engagement after years of handholding and video tutorials.

People can’t network with a thousand people or ten thousand people. When you take a thousand people, limit it to just people in San Francisco and then just the people that are in medicine, you might get 5 results. Facebook and Linkedin have made us expect such queries to return thousands of connections and so that’s what people resort to.

If the networking value prop of these social media lite tools don’t pan out, what about the other cool features? The events that people can respond to, the photos that people can like and comment on from their reunion five years ago?

Who is going to honestly log in and do that, especially when there is a cool new post on Instagram from a favorite influencer?

If you ask an alumni relations admin or development officer, they know this. But they are willing to try these tools because it is so easy for them to fall out of touch with their members. It makes sense. The Facebooks and Linkedins that command the attention of their constituents aren’t built for a 1000-person camp or 4000-person school. They are built for the advertisers.

Alumni admins are stuck with tools that aren’t built for them and ones that fail to meet their promise.

You know that alumni data is key to strong alumni communities. We created a platform to make sure that you get your data, and alums get a network without the noise. It's strictly dedicated to data, search, email, and donations. We aggregate networks so users can log into their smallest organizations and still get the results they need. There is no content on it, and we don’t track DAUs. We know that the average jobseeker that spends ~4.2 years with the same employer, probably won’t need to use or update a profile on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. We know that users don’t want another thing to curate and follow, so we built Wavelength.

A Blog on Data and Networks in Modern Alumni Communities

Wavelength's blog covers a host of data and networking topics in alumni relations. Some key topics include:

  • How do alumni actually network?
  • How to offer tools that benefit everyone
  • How to use data to improve your alumni strategy
Posts published every other week.

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