Cover image photos by Mikhail Nilov and Andrea Piacquadio,
Staying connected with alumni is crucial for any school, and engaging, relevant content plays a vital role in achieving this. In this blog post, we’ll unravel the world of content that’s tailor-made to keep your fellow alums engaged, excited, and connected.
From heartwarming stories that tug at their nostalgia strings to cutting-edge updates that showcase your institution’s progress, we’re diving deep into the treasure trove of content types that are absolute dynamite for your alumni marketing strategy.
Key Components of a Winning Content Strategy for Alumni Engagement
To create a winning alumni engagement content strategy, it is important to consider the best practices. Think about the following steps:
- Define clear goals
- Conduct thorough audience research so you can tailor your content to their needs
- Develop a content calendar for consistent delivery.
- Use storytelling techniques to create emotional connections and, last but not least,
- Measure the impact of your content for future improvements.
How to Conduct Research for Effective Alumni Content Creation?
Thorough research is essential when creating alumni content related to higher education. Surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups can provide valuable insights into alumni needs and interests. Analyzing website analytics and social media conversations can uncover behavioral patterns. It’s important to critically analyze the collected data for reliability and validity. Once you understand what your alumni want, you can create tailored content such as campus updates, career resources, networking opportunities, and alumni profiles. This targeted approach helps build stronger connections with your alumni community and maintains long-term engagement.
What kinds of content work best in alumni marketing?
When it comes to creating content that resonates with alumni, the main objective is to evoke a sense of pride in their alma mater. The most effective type of content for achieving this is anything that makes them exclaim, “Yes, I went there!” This could include highlighting notable alumni and their achievements, showcasing campus traditions and events, or sharing stories about how the university has positively impacted the community. Creating content that fosters meaningful connections and a strong emotional connection with alumni can lead to increased engagement and support from this important group.
Content highlighting unique aspects of your institution
Creating this type of content can be challenging since many higher education institutions have similar characteristics. Therefore, it becomes even more crucial to emphasize the distinctiveness of your institution and showcase the wide variety of courses and programs it offers. By mentioning notable achievements and awards, you can effectively demonstrate the quality and recognition your institution has attained. Additionally, sharing the success stories of alumni can serve as a source of inspiration for students. Including information about expert faculty members will also enhance credibility. Lastly, discussing unique facilities and resources will further attract and engage your target audience. By incorporating these points into your content strategy, you will be able to effectively captivate your desired audience.
The alumni of the University of British Columbia (UBC) share a fondness for their school cafeteria’s iconic cinnamon buns. So when the pandemic forced everyone into becoming baking aficionados their alumni department seized on this as a great way to keep their community connected. According to their entry in the CASE awards,
“We started the series by filming a tutorial on how to make UBC’s most famous recipe, the UBC Cinnamon Bun. It was a great success and, with views accumulating, we asked alumni to try the recipe themselves and post photos of their attempts from home.”
Encouraging alumni to share their experiences and memories on social media marketing fosters engagement and builds a sense of community. By asking for their advice, photos, or videos, you give them an opportunity to directly contribute to the community while helping them reminisce. Asking for submissions, then creating a unique hashtag helps gather and curate this content for further use. For example, the University of Iowa put out a request for alumni’s recommendations on the best pizza place in Iowa.
“We asked Hawkeyes to share their favorite pizza place via Facebook on National Pizza Day. Those comments (nearly 400–generated from an unpaid post) were then leveraged to create a story featuring user-generated responses that was published online in Iowa Magazine.”
Transport your alumni back to their time at your institution with nostalgic content. Share captivating photos or videos showcasing the campus through different eras. Engage them with interactive quizzes or polls that tap into their nostalgia for specific traditions or events. Highlight memorable moments in articles or blog posts, allowing alumni to reminisce. Share heartwarming stories from alumni, capturing their cherished memories. Use typography and design elements that reflect your institution’s branding for a sense of familiarity and nostalgia that resonates with your alumni.
The OSU Foundation of Oklahoma State University regularly posts side-by-side comparison photos as a way of keeping their audience connected to their school’s history.
Another popular form of alumni marketing content is to feature the accomplishments and successes of our incredible alumni through interviews. Nothing inspires pride in your alma mater like hearing inspiring stories of your fellow alumnae who have made significant contributions in their fields, overcome challenges, or made a difference in their communities.
NYU’s annual Changemakers campaign highlights alumni making important contributions to the world. Nominations are collected from the wider alumni community and the winners are showcased on their own microsite as well as on the alumni department’s various social media accounts.
Alumni content is the perfect platform to showcase your institution’s commitment to staying current with the latest industry trends and advancements. Offer valuable articles and blog posts that encompass recent research, innovations, and knowledge in specific fields, while also including recommended approaches. This is particularly beneficial for recent alumni who are seeking career growth opportunities. Provide helpful tips and guidance on navigating the job market and elevating their professional journeys.
For alumni looking to expand their knowledge or gain new skills, you could provide resources and guidance to show your institution’s commitment to lifelong learning. This could take the form of professional development courses, one-off webinars, or visiting lectures from other alumni. This could also be an opportunity to forge partnerships and collaborations with other educational institutions and organizations, giving you access to a wide range of educational opportunities.
The University of Virginia created its More than the Score Pre-Football Lecture Series to share interesting research being done by its faculty with its alumni community. They scheduled these lectures to coincide with their football teams’ home games to ensure a high turnout and reinforce the connection to school spirit. According to their alumni department,
“We tested it as a hybrid program, offering an in-person speaker and sharing it as a virtual live stream worldwide to UVA’s alumni and parent community. It was well-received. Therefore, we launched the fall 2022 program as a hybrid and welcomed 6,700 registered guests from all 50 states and 33 countries around the globe for these educational lectures.”
Celebrations: seasonal and institutional
In addition to taking advantage of major holidays, you could create engaging content around major milestones specific to your school. Keep the alumni spirit alive and thriving with celebrations that bring your community together around major anniversaries or events that resonate with your alumni.
Thompson Rivers University’s alumni department chose to spotlight 12 of their alumni who went on to start their own businesses. In their 12 Days of Alumni content, entrants could win one of twelve prizes each drawn from an extensive database of alumni-owned businesses. As a result, the school supported its alumni community, improved their alumni database, and alumni could reconnect with their classmates and alma mater. Everyone won.
Where to use all this content?
To maximize the impact of your alumni content strategy, consider leveraging multiple channels to reach a wider audience. So in addition to the dedicated alumni website, use your alumni department’s social media channels to showcase and share your content. Additionally, incorporate your content into email campaigns for direct engagement, and utilize direct mail to provide personalized experiences.
It’s easier than ever to connect with your beloved alumni community on platforms like Facebook, X, and LinkedIn. Sharing engaging content, whether generated by your team or your alumni community is what these platforms are made for.
Design an intuitive and user-friendly alumni website as a central hub for alumni content. Features like event listings, job boards, and discussion forums should be easily accessible. Keep the site updated with engaging content to encourage return visits. Ensure mobile optimization for accessibility. Create a well-designed website to foster community and engagement among alumni across the United States and Latin America.
Segmenting your alumni database is crucial for delivering personalized content. Divide your alumni based on criteria like graduation year, location, or area of study. Tailor your emails to their interests and needs. Then use compelling subject lines to grab attention and increase open rates. Use eye-catching visuals and concise copy. Include clear call-to-action buttons. And of course, monitor email campaign metrics to measure success and identify areas for improvement.
Direct mail is a powerful tool for alumni marketing. To make it effective, create visually appealing and memorable pieces that catch their attention. Personalize the content to make alumni feel valued. Use interactive elements like QR codes or personalized URLs. Test different formats and designs to optimize response rates. Track campaign effectiveness through unique identifiers to measure success and make improvements.
To effectively engage alumni, a winning content strategy is crucial. Highlight your institution’s unique aspects, incorporate user-generated content, tap into nostalgia, showcase alumni achievements and industry news, promote continuing education opportunities, and celebrate milestones. Use social media, alumni websites, email campaigns, and direct mail to distribute your content. Monitor and analyze performance to make improvements and foster strong relationships with your alumni community.