Offering More Relevant Content and Opportunities to Engage with Alumni on a Deeper Level
When engaging alumni, the two most popular ways we think of are asking alumni for donations and reunions. However, it is important to know that your alumni are looking for more than just being asked for money and hanging out with former classmates. Alumni can be an important ongoing part of your school’s community, including interacting with current students. These 5 ways will help you to engage your alumni on a deeper level.
85% of alumni organizations at large report they “do a poor job,” or “need to do more” to attract and engage young alumni. A key way to reach out to your alumni is to meet them where they are at. For many of your grads, especially the younger ones, they are hanging out on social media. In fact, 61.6% of grads use social networking sites to keep in touch with their alma mater.
Nostalgia campaigns that take advantage of the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag on Twitter and Instagram can catch the attention of your alumni. You can also share information about upcoming events that alumni may be interested in. One example of this is sharing the date and time of the homecoming football game. To keep alumni engaged that can’t make the big game, ask people to show their school pride by sharing a photo of themselves wearing school colors.
Monitor the hashtags your alumni use when sharing content about your school so that you can take advantage of relevant hashtags. Also, monitor what social media platforms your alumni use. If your alumni are really engaged, you might consider setting up social media accounts specifically for your alumni.
Also, don’t forget to segment your audience. You’ll have alumni that range in age so make sure to target each segment where they are and with content that is most relevant to that group. To help you segment your alumni, currently, you’ll typically find graduates of less than 10 years on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, while you’ll find that graduates of 10 or more years are likely hanging out on Facebook and their email inboxes.
For the more professional side of social network platforms, utilize LinkedIn to help your grads focus on higher education and/or finding a job. This is a great platform to show that you still care about your graduates and their progress. On LinkedIn, you can build groups or communities for your grads where alumni can connect with people from their class and reach out to businesses looking for employees.
A Place on Your Website
Many school websites focus on prospects as well as current students. Consider creating an alumni microsite or an alumni portal that offers benefits and showcases relevant content like events, news, photos, and resources. In fact, 78% of alumni prefer to access their benefits online. But don’t let your alumni content on your main website get buried, however. You want your alumni to find the link or portal easily.
If you have the resources and time, consider curating a blog on the alumni site that shares relevant content, like tips for stand-out resumes, interview etiquette, and other fun topics.
Maintain Networks and Offer Resources
Speaking of resources, two of the most important resources you can offer alumni is networking and help with finding a job. You can offer to make introductions, keep alumni engaged with their former professors and offer career fairs. Even as a high school you can help your alumni network and find jobs, especially if they have moved back to your community. Who better to know local businesses and their need for employees than the local schools and their employees who live in the community?
LinkedIn has recently become a great tool for schools to provide alumni with career resources as well. In fact, it can be pretty hands-off for your school–just create the group and allow the networking to happen organically! These groups can also give current students and alumni the opportunity to create professional relationships and establish a career-driven network with other alumni. Twitter can also be a great tool to share job leads or relevant articles on finding jobs (or perhaps share posts from that blog we mentioned above).
Presence at Events and Collaboration
Do you have an event or a student organization that could benefit from alumni support? If your event needs career panelists or judges, staff for student retreats or mentors for students, alumni are perfect for filling that role. Not only is it a great way to get your alumni involved with the current student population making them feel as if they are still part of the community, but it can also help current students better understand the skills they are developing for later in life. Consider having a group of alumni that you rely on often for these roles and refer to them as alumni ambassadors.
Hire Your Alumni
Who better to support your school and show school spirit like no other than your alumni? Obviously the job of teacher or mentor is a great job for many alumni, giving them the chance to interact with current students, but you may find other ways to support alumni with building projects, event planning, and other ancillary projects the school develops. There are so many roles within your school that alumni can fill with gusto and pride!
From utilizing social media accounts better to having grads mentor or even teach your current students, you can build your school’s community. By engaging your alumni where they are at and on a deeper level, you’ll be able to have more meaningful interactions with them that benefit both your school and your grads.