The second year of your Switchboard is an exciting time. Experiences from your first year have provided clarity around a host of things: missed opportunities, necessary relationships for continued growth, the efficacy of various promotional strategies, and so on. The potential for your Switchboard to continually gain momentum in the second year is great, and reflecting on the experiences and learnings from your first year are integral in creating and maintaining the framework needed for your Switchboard to continue building momentum in the second year.
Year 1 Learnings
When reflecting back on your first year, there are a 3 different areas that are helpful in taking clear understandings and next steps away for your second year strategy.
1. What to do again from Year 1
Your first year will have had many successes around promotional efforts, stakeholder recruitment and engagement, and stewardship strategies on your Switchboard, and all of those successes are important to carry over to the second year. Take a moment to reflect on and write down:
What promotional efforts worked (e.g. emails, in-person efforts, social media content).
Which stakeholders were assets in building momentum in the first year.
Which efforts worked best in recruiting and engaging stakeholders in Year 1.
What systems worked for stewarding posts and fostering connections between users in Year 1.
2. Year 1 missed opportunities to prioritize in Year 2
The first year of growing and fostering your Switchboard is a learning experience, and reflecting on opportunities that were missed sets you up to use those missed opportunities in Year 2 to benefit your Switchboard and community. Write down and share with stakeholders/colleagues:
What campus/alumni events or promotional opportunities were missed in Year 1 that should be prioritized for Year 2?
Which campus partners were not stakeholders in Year 1 that should be stakeholders in Year 2?
What systems were not in place for stewarding Switchboard content and/or fostering connections on the Switchboard in Year 1 that should exist in Year 2?
Were any groups overlooked in Year 1 that should be a part of the Switchboard in Year 2 (e.g. students and parents)?
3. Goals that were reasonable and motivating in Year 1 to prioritize in Year 2
Setting and achieving goals in an integral process in making progress in establishing and growing your Switchboard. Knowing what goals worked and were reasonable in Year 1 provides clarity for what types of goals should be set for Year 2. Think about adoption, engagement, and promotional goals from Year 1 that you want to prioritize for Year 2. For example, how many all-community emails should be sent in Year 2? What response rate goal is reasonable and should be prioritized? How many new users should be adopted in Year 2, based on how Year 1 went?
While Year 2 of your Switchboard holds new opportunities for growth and engagement, there are some foundational goals that should be prioritized that will help maintain the momentum, relevance, and value your Switchboard. These goals are:
1. 30 posts per month
2. 75% response rate or better per month
3. Send at least 2 all-community messages to promote adoption and engagement
4. Meet regularly with stakeholders to gauge progress and plan for upcoming opportunities
Along with these foundational goals, breaking down Year 2 into 3, 6 and 12 month goals is a good way to ensure you are anchoring your efforts in important events and times in the calendar that can amplify your efforts, as well as organizing things into manageable chunks. One year is a lot of time to consider and plan for, but smaller stretches of 3 months are much more manageable.
With a year under your belt, you’ll have a sense of what to prioritize to further grow your Switchboard when it comes to communications, steward best practices, and general adoption/engagement strategies. To ensure nothing in missed in Year 2, be sure to map out what you want to prioritize for:
1. Devoted space in e-newsletters
2. Article in alumni magazine
3. Emails to the community (all-community messages or to segments)
4. Social media posts
1. In-person promotional efforts
2. Partnering with other departments to cast a wider net in the community (e.g. teaming up with communications/marketing to spread the word better)
3. Leveraging Switchboard student/alumni ambassadors to serve as proxy staff
4. Prioritizing major community events (e.g. commencement, alumni reunion, etc.)
Steward best practices:
1. Interacting with posts regularly. This resource provides great examples of actively engaging with posts on your Switchboard.
2. Creating simple routines to keep Switchboard top-of-mind during Year 2 - this resource provides great examples of this.