Every office has the same obstacle of having a limited number of resources to accomplish many goals, especially when it comes to people. To get around this obstacle, deputizing a select group of students and alumni as Switchboard ambassadors is a way to get more hands on deck as your Switchboard gains momentum.
These could be students that work in your office or are doing a short internship, alumni who serve on an alumni board or council, or just folks who are engaged volunteers interested in helping their community.
Characteristics of successful Switchboard ambassadors include:
- Excited about the community
- Eager to volunteer and help the community
- Already connected to community to some degree
If you're not sure where to start, one place to start is by looking at who your most engaged students and alumni are on Switchboard. To do that, just go to Admin: Insights: Users, then select either your "Current Student" or "Alumni" segment, and scroll down to see your top ten users. (Don't have a "Current Student" or "Alumni" segment? You can make one in the Member Directory!).
Once you have a student or alum (or several!) willing to help, it can be good to provide them with some additional information. Asking them to help support your Switchboard just 10-30min a week can do so much!
Here are some tips to help get things started:
Create a position description:
Giving moderators a basic position description can help clarify what they should be doing. Sharing the why (ie: why is their help is needed), the time expected, the goals you'd like to achieve, any metrics you'd like them to focus on (are you trying to increase users, increase responses or posts, deepen connections, etc), and some strategies for engagement can all be good things to include.
Share the golden rule:
Sharing the Switchboard golden rule ("A resource for every ask. A thank you for every offer.") can also be helpful. Adding the 'why' behind this is important: essentially that we don't want users posting into a void, especially when they are generously offering or vulnerably asking.
Provide some strategies:
Sharing how volunteers can engage with the community will help get things started. Some thoughts on how to do this:
- Responding to posts by hearting or commenting. Bonus points for tagging at least one member of the community that could help (whether they know them personally, find them on Switchboard, or search through your campus resources to locate a possible helper).
- Cross posting both to and from other campus platforms. For example, if you have a physical message board, some of those asks/offers could be shared on Switchboard. Additionally, asks and offers already posted on Switchboard can be shared out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, message boards, or other places your campus community frequents (both in-person and online!).
- Inviting their friends/network to join the platform. If you have a few folks helping this could even be made into a little friendly competition of who can get the most new users. Swag can be a great prize!
- Take things offline, and challenge your volunteers to find at least one 'in-person' interaction where someone is asking for or offering something. Once you start paying attention, you'll release this happens all the time in conversation. Have volunteers work with that person to get the ask/offer onto Switchboard and remind them it's a resource! Students can do this on-campus fairly easily, whereas alumni might be able to use an in-person gathering in their home town or a reunion event to try this.
Space for creativity:
Student and alumni moderators have come up with lots of fun ideas, from sending campus-wide meme emails that summarize posts to sharing Instagram stories about Switchboard connections. See what ideas your moderators might be able to come up with!
Working with your moderators to come up with campaigns that could be utilized at slow times, or to finding ways to engage with campus current events can be really beneficial. Additionally, students often have the pulse on what's happening around campus off the 'official' calendar and might be able to guide and inform better engagement.
Have you found other great strategies for engaging your student or alumni moderators? Let us know!