Every community has their die hards.  Those people that deeply love and respect their community and are willing to go to great lengths to positively support them.  Through giving their time, talent, and treasure in various ways, they are always eager to do what they can to further the mission of the institution and support the community.  These are people that provide offices with the ability to implement programs that help fulfill the strategic goals and visions of both offices and the institution, which is a win-win for the everyone.

These folks also exist in your Switchboard, and while many of them will be people you already know, there will be new folks that appear who demonstrate a desire to support the community consistently.  With this well to draw from, having ways to encourage these top contributors on your Switchboard and in other initiatives opens new possibilities for delivering value for your Switchboard, your office, and your community.


Who are they?

Top contributors, also known as super users, are members of your community that consistently heart and/or comment on posts, as well as message users with regularity.  You can see this information in a couple of places, such as just opening posts and seeing if there are users that show up with regularity.  These users are also easily found in the Member Directory through use of various filters.  For example, you could sort the Member Directory by users that have hearted at least 10 posts, commented at least twice, and posted at least 1 ask or offer and see who appears (see below).  You can ultimately use whatever number and types of filters you’d like.

You can also find your top contributors in the Users section of Insights.  Here, we surface who those users are by default, but you have the ability to click on bars in the bar graphs above the top contributors, which will surface your top contributors that represent the bar you clicked (or multiple bars you selected).

Default:

Selecting the 2016 bar in the “By Class Year” bar graph:

Selecting the “Alumna/s” bar in the “By Affiliation” bar graph:

What does leveraging look like?

1. Sharing content

Encouraging top contributors (and all users, for that matter) to use the Share button within posts is a very simple way to channel top contributor’s energy and excitement and transfer it to individuals or groups that would be interested.

Top contributors are most likely active in other social media, and encouraging them to cross-post Switchboard posts to those social media serve as powerful conduits to your Switchboard.  Cross-posting content is usually pretty brief, but here is an example of a more detailed cross-post from a top contributor.

2. Send email on your behalf 

Some communities chaff at anything that comes from the institution, as many are wondering what the catch is.  A simple way to encourage your engagement on your Switchboard and avoid that vibe is having top contributors communicate with the community on your behalf.  Denison University did this for a graduation campaign, so the message is a bit more formal, but messages don’t need to be this formal.  

3. Commenting on posts frequently

The easiest and most effective way you can leverage your top contributors is to have them engage with posts on the Switchboard.  Not only does it help the people who are posting, but it models for the community how to engage on Switchboard.  Simple ways that top contributors can comment on post are:

   A) Thanking people who post offers.
   B) Tagging other users already on Switchboard to bring them to the post to engage, especially with asks.
   C) Letting someone who has posted an ask/offer know they shared the post with others that would be interested or able to help.
   D) Sharing a resource that could be helpful to the person who’s posted an ask/offer.

4. Survey for feedback on Switchboard and how to foster it more

Sometimes it’s helpful to take the pulse of your community on Switchboard via your top contributors.  As they’re eager to help the community, they’re also likely to offer perspective on ways you can further engage and grow the Switchboard, as well as any feedback on ideas that could enhance the platform itself.  Nothing really formal would need to be done.  Just send a few questions to these folks, or talk with them in person if you can, and see what they say.

5. Promoting at events (reunions, regional events, etc.)

Offices are always wishing for more help during events, and deputizing top contributors to help with Switchboard promotion at events throughout the year helps maximize your reach without having to find extra resources.

6. Posting asks/offers with some regularity

Many top contributors engage on Switchboard by creating new content regularly.  For example, many alumni like posting evergreen offers every few months to remind the community of the offer (e.g. an offer to help young alumni network in Chicago).  Other examples of posts that top contributors can regularly post are job/internship offers and job/internship and advice asks (especially from students and young alumni).

Action items

  1. Find top 10 top contributors and personally thank them for their generosity.
  2. Create a goal in Goals to encourage these top contributors to try at least 3 methods of leveraging over the next few months (especially sharing and promoting).
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