The Facebook Reunion – School reunions taking a new form

I just had my 20th year reunion at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. It was a magical affair. Some 80 of my year came, with about half accompanied by significant others, to bring the total on site up to 120+ people. It was our first bona fide Facebook reunion as well, to the extent that we concocted a private Facebook page for those who are on Facebook.

facebook reunion, the myndset digital marketing

Checking in every 5 years

The shame of school reunions is that they happen only every 5 years. And, five years on, we are talking about how long it’s been, how we should do it more often, how we haven’t (or have…) changed and more.

Since our last reunion was in 2008, Facebook has taken on a global proportion. At the last reunion, I was on Facebook of course, along with some 100 million other users — it’s probable, however, that the majority of my classmates were not yet onboard.  At this time, those in our class who are not on Facebook have done it by choice.  [I totally respect the choice.]

Facebook reunion online…

Of the 218 people initially in our class, about half are on Facebook and nearly all of these Facebookers joined the private group. Even if, in absolute terms, that’s not a large group, we managed to create a regular flow of conversation.

Prolonging the pleasure

Reunions are great because they are in person, real.  We get to “check in” with each other.  However, there’s no reason that these reunion gatherings couldn’t be augmented by some virtual conversation. It sure would fill the space. In fact, the term of a blended reunion comes to mind, where the reunion happens before, during and after the specified date. Just like for learning: we have the opportunity to do in class learning as well as distance learning.

Blended reunion

blended reunion, Facebook reunion, the myndset digital marketingHerewith, I launch the new concept of the “blended reunion.” Whereas people refer to blended reunions as a blend of years (eg two or more classes regrouped), I am refering to blended in time and space: a reunion that can start online in the many months leading up to the event. Even the ability to use Facebook during the event (for check-ins, uploads, the weekend agenda…), and then, of course, post weekend, to keep the connection, conversation and images being shared.

To the extent Facebook (and other similar social networks started out as a school-based network, i.e. thefacebook, copainsdavant), you would think Facebook could provide a ready-made solution for such practices…  Don’t you agree?  I did find a post that shows how to use the “event” tab, replete with an embedeed PayItSquare payment system.  But, I think the whole approach could be much improved.  A new app or business venture, somebody?  Not that everyone will join FB just for such a person, but it could be tempting for some sitting on the fence.

CALL TO FACEBOOK: Help us out and make an adapted Facebook reunion feature!  {Click to tweet to e-sign the manifesto!}

Your thoughts and reactions welcome, as ever.

  • yendi

    Even as a partner in crime, the INSEAD reunions are enjoyable. This one was remarkably fun!. Thank you to every single person to join and participate in the general good feeling.

    • Minter Dial

      :) Thanks Partner!

  • @LutzFinger

    thanks for this nice post… why would a private group at facebook not be sufficient to create a "blended reunion"? Or a linkedIn group … assuming that more of your promotion had been on LinkedIn? Which functionality is missing?

    • Minter Dial

      Hi Lutz,

      For starters, there is the money issue. For some reunions, people might need to collect money (fund raising, pay for a dinner or collect money for a present, etc.). Secondly, about the reunion itself, the "event" tab isn't very friendly for adding useful information. Thirdly, maybe there could be side discussions enabled: for example on which conferences we should hold, what should be the theme of the party… The "ask a question" function is quite limited and then slips into oblivion on the wall. I'd rely on Facebook to uncover the right needs!

      Naturally, to your point, the choice of network depends in large part on the objective. It's true that for a business school you can imagine more people being on LinkedIn. If the objective is to find and connect, LI is much more effective (and was indeed used to gather up a few missing among the ranks). That said, with reunion gatherings, the trick is getting into the "personal" space. A reunion is a personal, more emotional event, making it more prone for a Facebook environment (photos, fun, nostalgia…), in my opinion.

      My recent post Developing eCommerce in Russia – interview with eStore Agency founders (MDE68)

  • yanni

    having received news and pics of our classmates before the reunion got us off to a really good start when we physically met – who will not admit to the pre-reunion anxiety on "will I recognise the faces – will they recognise me". FB really helped – as did the name tags!

  • Ken

    I like your idea, Minter, and you took a great initiative with the recent FB reunion group. One challenge, though, is determining whether to have a single permanent FB group for the class promotion, and a separate FB group for the particular reunion. Notice that for our own reunion, people have posted in both, yet the membership of both groups is not 100% overlapped. It becomes hard to know, "in which group should I contact my friends? Where should I post photos?" To drive this point home, in 5 years from now, will you form a new FB reunion group, or re-use (possibly rename) the current reunion group?

    • Minter Dial

      Fabulous points, Ken. I will review to figure out a longer term play… The "open" page has its benefits in being findable… (which could also be a downside from some people's point of view). The 93 group is across promotions… So will need to make a few decisions… Amazing how social media does require some thinking, aka strategy!