University is a huge step for high school graduates. It gives them the chance to explore different subjects, meet new people and become part of an educational community. Unfortunately for many, their connection with college ends once they get their degree. According to an Engagement Strategies Group survey, eight out of 10 alumni aren’t interested in donating to their alma mater… All because their school didn’t do enough to engage with them post graduation.
Neglecting your alumni can make them feel used and unimportant, leading to indifference or even resentment down the line. If an alum doesn’t feel connected to your school, they’re unlikely to show support, donate to fundraising campaigns or encourage new prospective students to attend. So, how do you make sure past students remain passionate about your university and actively advocate for it? Here are a few key tips.
1) Understand your different alumni groups
While your graduates may have all chosen to attend the same university, chances are they have very different motivations, interests and lifestyles. It’s your responsibility to understand your alumni and create content that resonates with them. For example, a young social media intern will not respond to the same messaging as an older, experienced professional.
The easiest way to understand your students is by using student-specialist software that collects data early on, such as Akero. As you continue to gather information, both during the college process and beyond, you’ll be able to divide alumni into groups based on shared similarities. Then, you can create content geared toward each group.
2) Transition graduates to alumni channels
Social media is a great way to keep students engaged with your community. While many prospective and current students follow their school’s various social media accounts, the same cannot be said for alumni. Sometimes, the problem is as simple as a lack of awareness. Remind graduates that your alumni network exists by putting them on email lists, promoting newsletters and sharing alumni content on university pages.
Keep in mind that raising awareness is just the first step. To retain audiences, you’ll need to produce valuable content. Using platforms like Akero Data Labs can help monitor your institution’s social media performance and check you’re on the right track.
Found alumni network helpful
Alumni opposed to alma mater donations
3) Offer useful services
There’s no doubt that alumni are valuable. Graduates who remain connected with your school are more likely to donate, encourage prospective students to apply and even return for adult learning. So, what do you have to offer in return?
One of the biggest things graduates want from their alma mater is career support. Unfortunately, according to a Strada-Gallup Alumni survey, just 9% believed their alumni network was helpful to their job search. You should actively support former students by offering job application advice, interview training sessions and networking opportunities. You could even invite successful alumni to become mentors for recent graduates.
4) Take advantage of user-generated content
Are you still unsure about how to connect with alumni? Why not pass the mic over to them? Host virtual reunions, post alumni life updates and invite graduates to give advice or guidance. And don’t forget about your international students – make sure everyone gets a chance to share their story.
Ultimately, your digital marketing campaign is the key to nurturing graduates into loyal student advocates. It starts by sharing nostalgic content and student stories, then grows into greater website traffic and more engaged audiences (you can learn more by reading the full whitepaper here). Ideally, you should end up with a strong student and alumni network that stays in touch with your university for years to come.
Whether you’re completely disconnected from your alumni or have a solid network but need guidance on the next steps, we’re here to help. Get in touch and start creating more effective marketing and engagement campaigns today.