It has been a while since I have a guest post published on the UK Web Focus blog. But as I am very keen on encouraging a debate on the role of Web 2.0 within our institutions I would like to welcome Hannah Hiles as a guest blogger.

Hannah Hiles has been Media & PR Officer for Keele University in Staffordshire since August 2006. Previously she was Keele’s Alumni Officer and before joining the University she was a journalist at The Sentinel newspaper in Stoke-on-Trent. Her views are her own and not necessarily those of Keele University.


Keele University has been exploring the potential for communications and connections that can be found in Web 2.0 technologies.

In just 16 months of using Facebook as a corporate tool we have developed a thriving community with links spanning the globe; it has revolutionised the way we run some events, reconnected us with dozens of “lost” alumni and provided a platform where we can interact with prospective students in their own domain.

The Keele University alumni LinkedIn group in particular provides networking opportunities for our professional graduates while at the same time allowing us to learn more about their careers and tailor our services to their needs.

And all this for just the cost of my time – we have no fancy paid-for online community platforms here.

We first started using Facebook in January 2007. One of our graduates had created a group called Keele Alumni and we thought we should get in there with our own official group, so Keele Society (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2224498996) was born. We didn’t go through any committees or get approval from anyone; we just recognised the potential and seized the opportunity, little knowing how quickly Facebook would grow within just a few months.

We soon added our official Keele University Page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keele-United-Kingdom/Keele-University/19097243336), as well as the Keele-network only Love:Keele group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9189098385&ref=ts to help me find student case studies.

One of the most exciting uses of Facebook for me has been the creation of groups aimed at prospective students. Keele 2008 (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7459213335) and Keele University 2009 (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17727959813&ref=ts) have proved a lifeline for applicants wanting to get the lowdown on Keele from the people who know and love it best – the current students.

A team of volunteers from among our Student Academic Representatives (StARs) check the group regularly and answer any questions. Other keen students, including Students’ Union sabbatical officers, also participate. I monitor what is being said and give an official University response when necessary but usually allow the students to take the lead.

A major part of Keele University’s appeal is its friendly atmosphere, so I try to reflect that through my communication style. Our Twitter updates (http://twitter.com/KeeleUniversity are a mixture of news stories with web-links and general observations about what is happening on campus spoken in the “voice” of the University. I’m still very new to Twitter and I don’t think I have fully grasped the possibilities of its use, but it’s another opportunity for communication with prospective students, current staff and students and alumni to be explored.

The University recognises Web 2.0 as an important area for growth, so much so that developing Keele’s e-communications strategy has now been formally built into my job description.