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Why the NY Times thinks you should be banking on your facebook likes

One of the biggest challenges that higher education institutions face today is how to predict what path students and alumni are going to take. For instance, what groups of students are more likely to transfer to another college or what groups of alumni are most likely to offer donations?

How could you possibly predict outcomes to either of these questions by simply looking at a spreadsheet that contains of merely names and contact information?

What about a more quantifiable way of predicting who is likely to donate? This week, we spotted a pretty persuasive article in the New York Times which certainly seems to think there’s a more precise way of targeting alumni.  The article outlines how by applying data mining techniques to social media accounts to analyze alumni habits, interests and activities you can figure out who are more likely to donate.

This begs the question then whether there’s more to social media than meets the eye. The business world has been quick to adapt to the merits of mining data from LinkedIn, whether it’s to determine someone’s suitability for a role in their company or to help them decide if someone is the right choice to do business with.

So what about facebook then? Could it be used in much the same way? Should we be looking to extract information from our followers as opposed to simply using it as a way to feed information about our brand to them?

The potential for collecting data with the goal of delivering more targeted campaigns is huge and it’s an area that is already being explored by companies like Evertrue which enables universities and colleges to analyze the social media activities of graduates. According to the NY Times article; “The company’s social donor management program…can evaluate alumni interactions with a college’s Facebook pages to help distinguish those people likely to give to a capital campaign from those more interested in a specific athletic or academic cause.”

Let us know what you think in the comments below, is there more to Facebook than meets the eye?

You can read the full article in the New York Times here.

Tagged: Alumni donations, Data mining

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