Thursday, 19 May 2011

A new communication channel for student unions that solves a real problem for students

Some of the problems you face in trying to communicate to students:
  • You want to advertise new union services to students for their own benefit but some people are becoming advert blind.
  • You want to get their thoughts but many students will not take the time to give feedback
  • You personally want the experience of using the latest types of social media communication channels that solve these problems but many of them are unclear
  • You ideally need ownership of this new channel to feel comfortable in using it. This is often not the case. Also, you want it to be free.

Solve a problem for students first and then it becomes easy:

The way to solve this is to solve a problem for students where:
  1. They are deeply thankful for your solution to a genuine problem they had
  2. It involves a method of advertising they actually enjoy participating in
  3. Feedback is given naturally as part of the process

What is a key problem you can solve?

The end of term, brings with it, an end to the student atmosphere. Typically, when students go back to their home towns:
  • They don’t know where other students will hangout tonight, so they run the risk of going to a place full of suits
  • There may be enough students around but there is no easy way to instantly share plans and head to the same bars

What is the solution you can give them? lets us "Decide, as a crowd, where we all want to go today"

So students, can collectively choose to go to the same bars that night, avoid the suits and avoid that feeling of boredom and separation that can kick in when we've left the campus:

How do you advertise services and get feedback from this?

The key point is that you can create your own crowd, or as we call it, your own 'group' e.g. 'Oxford students'

Under each group, you can create tags.

For example, if the group is: 'Oxford students'

The tags might be: "Single student", "Looking for a flatmate", "I'm interested in going to an end of year ball", "I want more parties in the summer" etc.

You can see how many are interested in each tag, as each one carries a number next to it showing how many people have selected that tag.

This can act as a voting and feedback system. You can add and remove tags any time you want new ideas voted upon.

Users are motivated to select the tags in order to match up to other students in the venues they are going to. For example, if two students have chosen the 'i love tequila' tag then they can see, within each others profiles, that they both like tequila. It is a unique communication tool based on common interests.

For privacy, LikeOurselves has been built so you don't have to show your picture. It is for a 'crowd' to fill a venue, rather than to identify individuals and there are options to turn any images on / off whenever you want.

What do you do now? It takes 60 seconds

Create your own group by clicking the 'Go' button on this page:

It takes 60 seconds to sign up and enter in a group name e.g "oxford students". You'll be given a direct link to your group which you can pass on to students, so they can go ahead and use it.

Example email

Below is a sample message to send out. You can swap out the link below with your own group link:

Subject header: Bars full of undergrads this summer, not suits


When students go home:
  • We don’t know where other students will hangout tonight, so we run the risk of going to a pub full of suits
  • There may be enough students around but there is no easy way to head to the same bars so we remain separated
There is an alternative.

LikeOurselves lets students "decide, as a crowd, where we all want to go later"

Sign up here: and play with it. This summer, you'll get an email to kick it off.


Any questions? Reach co-founders directly by sending an email to and we'll get back to you on the same day.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Community managers and their offline users

There is a great energy and excitement when like-minded people get people together in the same places. For example, a full student bar has a great atmosphere where people get along easily and enjoy the buzz of being around each other. Also, they made no effort to create this gathering, they just walked into their universities student bar.

However, if you manage a community then trying to create this environment for users involves the pain or impossibility of having to organise it for large numbers, spread over a wide area, along with the fear that few will turn up.

The benefits of successful gatherings are great, including retaining users, getting better feedback and forming stronger emotional bonds between them, your service and other users.

Users want to get together offline, they just don't want it to be weird

Many users don't want to go to an awkward and formal meet and greet event and are looking for a natural way to enjoy the company of like-minded users. Just like students, they want to be able to enjoy that atmosphere whenever they please and without having to plan in advance.

They simply want to be in the same places together

First, lets get one thing out of the way. It's not about meeting people. Out of 100 people, 10 might overcome the discomfort of going to a formal event but if you made it natural, easy and with an element of spontaneity then you will capture the interest of up to 90 out of a 100. They don't go to the event to meet people, they want to enjoy the experience of being among a like-minded crowd and meeting people is a secondary natural effect.

They want to feel like the students, walking into their student bar with friends and able to lean across the table and meet other students by asking the simple question "What course do you do?". If you manage a community, then your users want the same thing and they also have a simple ice-breaker question of their own.

How do you give this to them without having to organise it?

You let them organise themselves. Imagine if, as a crowd of users spread across the city, you could simply choose to go to the same venues today. You were all going out anyway, you don't mind if it's one of several places, you just want enjoy that great atmosphere together so all you want to know is "where is the rest of the crowd going?" was built for this purpose. One link, created within 60 seconds and sent to users, gives them the power to organise themselves worldwide, every day of the week by making a decision, as a crowd, to go to the same places.

In addition, there are many obvious and not so obvious benefits listed here on the community managers home page:

Once you've had a look at that, see the user demo which explains how users will enjoy it and how we are moving to a great new age of 'spontaneous planning'