How University of California, Berkeley, use social media to drive community engagement

Aug 18
Author:Ash Natesh
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As a university, how do you effectively communicate with your Alumni? Have you asked yourself, do my alumni care about the content that I’m posting? Am I creating enough of a wave?

When creating your strategy it is imperative to get to know your audience. What are their needs, wants and pain points? How can you, as a University, add value to their day to day lives?

How UC Berkeley runs their social media strategy to drive a feeling of community

Christina Sponselli is the Social Media Director at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). She is responsible for developing and implementing social media strategies and campaigns for alumni relations and fundraising. She leads the university’s philanthropic outreach to alumni, parents & friends.

So how does Christina reach her audience and build a sense of community for her alumni?

It is a multi-prong strategy that uses commercial platforms and vendors and homegrown web applications. The main social platforms she uses are Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. She is a member of Berkeley’s Interactive team that created a giving website, alumni network and mobile stickers.

Her strategy includes stitching together commercial platforms with proprietary websites. For example, including marketing promotions in the content posted on social channels, including LinkedIn. This affords her the opportunity to reach people they couldn’t reach in email or print campaigns.

“Social media strategies that reflect the culture of the institution are very important“ she says.

Another important part of Berkeley’s social strategy is leveraging applications developed by the Interactive team. The Cal Alumni Network community was launched in 2002 and now has more than 114k registered members.

“We have a proprietary alumni network that brings together the alumni and is a closed community”.  Alums log into it to  search, contact, and email other alums; claim a email account; and create a personalized web page with verified degree info, links to social profiles, and more”.   Christina found that the platform has worked successfully so far in bringing connectivity and communication between the alums, and allows the University to stay in contact with alumni.

The Big Give Campaign

A large, annual campaign that Christina works on is the 24-hour fundraiser, Big Give, which most recently raised, $22.4 million on March 8, 2018.

The entire university, all the schools, colleges, and programs comes together to reach students, alumni, staff, faculty and friends. This engagement includes various competitions, including social media contests.  The Winners below are from the 2018 Big Give social media contests:

The Winners below are from the 2018 Big Give contests:

Social Media Contest:

[Picture Credit: UOC Berkley Big Give website]


Gift based Contest:

[Picture Credit: UOC Berkley Big Give website]


Submitted by Ash Natesh

Ash Natesh

Ash is the Content Marketer at Criterion Conferences. Writing and sourcing content is all part of her day to day routine. She can’t stop drinking coffee, other than coffee her interests lie in Music, long walks amidst the mountains, Dance, Anime, Science Fiction and all things nerdy!

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