Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Social Networks and Reunions


I've got a high school reunion coming up later this year, and not that long ago received the requisite "Have we found you?  Can you help us find other classmates?" letter from Reunions Unlimited, the company my class has contracted with to organize the reunion.

Something immediately stood out for me on reading the letter (pdf).  Out of 14 lines of text in the letter, Reunions Unlimited devotes 6 - almost half - to badmouthing another company in very defensive language. (Emphasis theirs)

Please be advised that REUNIONS UNLIMITED, INC. and Classmates.com are two entirely separate entities.  REUNIONS UNLIMITED, INC. compiles its own mailing lists which are far more extensive and complete than any list on Classmates.com.  Only REUNIONS UNLIMITED, INC. knows the actual number of people attending your reunion.  The number of attendees actually coming to the reunion far exceeds any information on another company’s website, which is incomplete at best.


If I were them, I'd be taking the exact opposite approach.  I've connected with a number of my former classmates on Facebook, most of whom I haven't had any contact with in 19 years.  If anything, finding out where they ended up professionally, how many kids they have, where they're living, and the like makes it more likely for me to try to make it back for my reunion.

Rather than badmouthing the competition (and I'll be honest, I don't even know that Classmates.com is even direct competition), I'd be encouraging people to connect online, whether it's classmates.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, or anywhere else.  I'm guessing they've had enough issues with people deciding not to come based on incorrect attendee counts on Classmates.com, but they could have gotten that point across in just a few words, rather than devoting almost half of their letter to it.  Or even better, how about getting involved in existing social networks themselves.  (My class has 79 people on the Facebook group for our graduating class already.)

I guess the moral of the story - you'll find more success working with the network, than against it.