As the word spreads about your Switchboard, you’ll find that the number of people and amount of activity in between intentional adoption/engagement pushes steadily increases. This is due to conduits between your Switchboard and the community being built that ultimately broadcast the message about Switchboard frequently in places where the message will be well-received. Building these conduits is a straightforward process, which this module will cover so you can use these practices and resources to establish important pipelines between your community and your Switchboard.
Where are the best places to foster organic adoption?
There are many places that are ripe for fostering organic adoption. For example:
- Newsletters - they go out with regularity and provide a way to easily build community awareness around your Switchboard.
- Landing page/website information - You have landing pages for a reason, and having a dedicated landing page for your Switchboard serves to not only edify viewers about your Switchboard, but provides a way to bring them to the Switchboard with clear links. Here are excellent examples of a Switchboard landing page.
- Cross-posting - Your Switchboard complements other social media, and posting about Switchboard in those areas allows for folks using other social media to connect with the community to come to your Switchboard to connect with more of the community.
- Word-of-mouth - people who value the Switchboard will tell their friends about it. Those recommendations are worth their weight in gold.
- Resource shared in career coaching sessions - Career Services staff are interacting with alumni and students constantly, and the Switchboard is a place that amplifies their work. Having those staff shepherd users to the Switchboard is an excellent means of organic adoption.
- Phonathon - when students are calling alumni, having the Switchboard as an option for alumni who can’t give a financial gift, or don’t want to, is a great way to bring people who are willing to talk to the institution a chance to interact with no strings attached. For as many folks as these phonathon workers talk to, this is a deep well to draw from for organic adoption.
- Announcements at in-person events (e.g. alumni receptions) - people come to in-person events, such as regional alumni events, because they want to interact with the community to some degree. Most of the time, the spirit of the event is rooted in connecting and supporting the community, and Switchboard fits in perfectly to allow those folks to do so into the future.
- Consistent social media announcements from main channels - your institution has social media to basically communicate with the community, and people who pay attention are folks who are interested in, and care about, the institution. These folks are perfect for the Switchboard, and this is also a deep well to draw from for organic adoption. Occidental College uses their main Facebook page to post monthly about their Switchboard, like in the example below:
How do you establish conduits for organic adoption?
Utilizing the places mentioned in the previous section is one piece of establishing the conduits needed for sustained organic adoption, but particular actions are needed to actually create the pipelines that will encourage organic adoption.
- Stewarding posts - if people have a positive experience, they’ll tell their friends about it, put it on their own social media, etc., and this is invaluable. By supporting asks and responding to offers, you are able to guarantee to some extent that all users that post will have a positive experience. This is a normal part of the administrative role on Switchboard, so this isn’t a new action you’d be taking. For more on stewarding posts, check out this lesson.
- Prioritize some decent real estate in newsletters for your Switchboard - one of the easiest ways to create a sustainable conduit to your Switchboard is by using newsletter that the community expects and devoting a decent area of it to Switchboard. Even if the message is a simple “Check out what’s new on Switchboard,” you’re helping keep the Switchboard in the light and on the community’s mind.
- Set the expectation of cross-posting on other social media - Switchboard and existing social media pair very well together and can support one another. Set a routine for cross-posting Switchboard content on other social media to build a pipeline between the two. For example, take a few housing offers/asks every 3 weeks and post in appropriate Facebook channels, or take some asks/offers around networking and post in relevant Facebook or LinkedIn channels every month.
- Establish a routine for connecting with colleagues in other offices to update them on Switchboard and see how their efforts are coming along - accountability is crucial in maintaining stakeholder involvement, and checking in with them face-to-face is an easy way to maintain that accountability. The routine could be once a semester, once every 3 months, once a month, or whatever works for certain folks. If you help keep the Switchboard top-of-mind for others, it will stay top-of-mind. And if those stakeholders are held accountable, they’ll continue promoting and supporting the Switchboard in a way that fosters organic adoption (e.g. checking in with the Career Services staff and phonathon staff).
- Identify 5 places where you want to establish pipelines for organic adoption.
- Set up a time to talk with appropriate colleagues to establish those 5 places.
- Create recurring calendar items to stay on top of the 5 places to ensure they are being developed and utilized.