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Articles > Community Management > Building your online community: Q&A with Carolina Fontecilla, Deputy Director of Alumni at UAI

Building your online community: Q&A with Carolina Fontecilla, Deputy Director of Alumni at UAI

Read about how UAI, a leading private university in Chile, got almost 5000 members to sign up to its new online alumni community in the first six months of launching.
Carolina Edwards Fontecilla, Deputy Director of Alumni
Carolina Edwards Fontecilla, Deputy Director of Alumni

Founded in 1998, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez is one of Chile’s most important private universities, and has more than 11,000 undergraduates and postgraduates studying across two campuses in Santiago and Viña del Mar. The university has an extensive alumni community of over 29,000 graduates, and needed an all-in-one community management software to bring together the sizable alumni community, as well as improve the alumni experience through new initiatives such as mentoring and networking.

Prior to ToucanTech, UAI was using disparate technology systems that weren’t supporting its alumni relationship management. With all alumni data stored in Reqlut as well across spreadsheets, UAI needed another solution to increase efficiency and improve the alumni experience - and that’s when they found ToucanTech.

UAI began the data migration process at the beginning of 2022, moving the extensive database across from salesforce and several spreadsheets to a new all-in-one ToucanTech platform. Since then, the university has effectively used its all-in-one platform to engage the alumni community, providing enhanced careers support to its graduates through various initiatives such as mentoring, networking, and job fairs. In particular, UAI’s Feria Conexion Empresarial, a recent careers event for final-year students and recent graduates, had over 700 sign-ups.

Six months later, the platform continues to attract new members - and in the last month, more than 400 graduates have signed up and joined the online alumni platform. We got in touch with Carolina Edwards Fontecilla, Deputy Director of Alumni at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (UAI), Chile, to find out how she managed to get almost 5000 graduates to sign up to the online platform in the first six months, as well as sharing her favourite ToucanTech features.

How did you encourage your 29000+ alumni community to sign up to your online platform?

Prior to working with ToucanTech, we focused on updating our database and started with our newest graduates. Then when we were able to start our journey with ToucanTech, we took time to learn how to use the platform and design our site as we wanted, enabling us to become design experts. With this already working well, and confident with the results of the team’s work during these initial months, we designed a launch communication plan which involved different segments of the university. Mass emails were sent out informing our graduates of the benefits of joining this new platform, and a powerful social media plan was created to introduce the new platform to our graduates. In addition, at all our alumni face-to-face activities, we told our alumni about the new platform and our graduates also encouraged others to join it.

What’s been the biggest benefit for UAI of having a dedicated online alumni community?

One of the biggest benefits of our ToucanTech platform is that you can measure absolutely everything you do! For example, you can measure the impact of each post you share on the site, including our alumni news, which helps you make decisions on what kind of content to generate according to how your audience has interacted. The same goes for emails - you can measure how many people open the email and who opened it, therefore helping you to make informed decisions about which tools to use to communicate. You have to understand that because we are a network of graduates containing professionals of different ages, not everyone uses the same channels of communication to stay in contact with the university. ToucanTech helps you measure this, and diversify your strategies accordingly - centralising the main methods, and using other platforms alongside this.

Another great benefit is being able to organise our communications with our graduates - It’s important that our graduates feel welcome within their network, and that they see value in being part of this community. Therefore, it's important to manage the amount of information that we send them. The platform allows you to control this, and at the same time, you are able to include other departments of the university who need to communicate with graduates.

Have you launched any new initiatives on the platform recently?

In November, we organised and carried out our first ever Alumni Day, which was a reunion event for our alumni to meet and reconnect. We made sure to take advantage of our alumni being together in one place to promote our UAI community portal as our new information hub. Our strategy in this instance, and other instances, has been to create a new page in the main menu of our site every time we hold alumni events, with information about the event and a direct link to register - this simplifies the user experience. Once the event is over, we move it to a submenu within one of our permanent categories so that post-event information still stays there for a while. We’ve seen some great results from our dynamic site. The novelty of the site hasn’t worn off - we’ve noticed that our graduates don’t just log in once, but are frequently logging in and browsing the site, since they know that the content is constantly being updated.

What’s the best thing about your alumni platform?

Using Google Analytics, we’ve been able to track all the interactions on our site - for example, our graduates frequently visit the job board, as well as each of our events pages. Our last Google record showed that our ‘Alumni Day’ page is our site’s third most visited page, confirming that we have an effective communication strategy in place to promote the site. Finally, the news and event registration pages are also significantly visited by our graduates, who enjoy reading Alumni and University news to stay connected with the University.

 

ToucanTech offers a robust portfolio of cloud-based solutions on an integrated platform, including fundraising, comms, membership and more. To find out how you can make the most of these features like UAI, speak to a member of the ToucanTech team.

 

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