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Mission Control / Higher Education and Nonprofit

5 Engaging Approaches to Alumni Content

We explore alumni content approaches that are driving engagement with users, and offer takeaways that can elevate any alumni content strategy.

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What makes an alumni association successful?

Alumni, of course. But, more specifically, alumni who engage.

Alumni associations foster a spirit of loyalty for the alma mater and provide a supportive network that can help graduates start and advance their careers. Without engagement, an alumni association quickly loses the assets that make it valuable to its members.

Content is an ideal vehicle alumni associations use to connect with their members. But in order to engage alumni, alumni content needs to be, well, engaging. While engagement is a necessary component of any content strategy, the key for alumni associations is recognizing the unique needs of alumni, and creating content that speaks directly to those needs.

From these five organizations, learn how to attract alumni with content strategies that work.

1. Facilitate engagement to achieve engagement.

In 2019, the University of Arizona took steps to start engaging alumni through social media with the launch of the Bear Down Network — an exclusive social platform that connects its alumni to create a supportive, interactive network. Through the Bear Down Network, alumni can connect with each other for mentorship opportunities, to discover career opportunities and alumni talent, and to stay apprised of university news and events.

Takeaway: For the University of Arizona, engagement wasn’t just the goal of the alumni association — it was also the need of its alumni. In this case, facilitating engagement is the key to achieving engagement.

2. Know your members’ unique needs.

Embry Riddle is the world’s largest fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace. If there’s an alumni audience with specific content needs, it’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The university’s biannual publication, Lift, covers topics that are highly relevant to its alumni, like airport terminal technology, diversity in the pilot workforce and pilot legacies.

Takeaway: Alumni engagement strategies are strongest when they reflect the unique needs of the alumni.

3. Establish a spirit of comradery.

Did you know the plastic pink flamingo is the official bird of Madison, Wisconsin? If you’re University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni you did; after all, the plastic bird was named the official bird of the city after a campus stunt in 1979 left Bascom Hill, the university’s campus center, covered in over 1,000 plastic flamingos. The Flamingle is the university alumni association’s quirky weekly newsletter that supplies fun and easy reads about campus quirks, traditions and history.

Takeaway: You might ask yourself: Is humor a need that can be solved by alumni marketing? If your alumni association is trying to establish a spirit of comradery with the alma mater it is.

4. Inspire to engage.

English majors who opened a sustainable restaurant. A professional actress who uses her career as software engineer to pursue her artistic aspirations. An Airbnb executive who believes technology is the key to evolving economic equality. These stories are featured in Amherst College’s Amherst in the Field video series, a series of quick-hitting, 2-minute videos that serve alumni inspiration and pride for their alma mater.

Takeaway: Inspiring stories are compelling. Engage alumni by finding interesting ways to tell stories that inspire career aspirations and comradery — two foundational needs of alumni.

5. Don’t Forget About Modern Methods

The adage, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it,” grows increasingly relevant in today’s fast-paced, content-laden world. For alumni publications, the best way to capture the interest of alumni is sometimes simply applying modern methods to spark engagement, like catchy headlines and relevant design. It’s a concept well understood by the University of Chicago’s alumni publication, The University of Chicago Magazine, which features headlines akin to sophisticated clickbait and a simple, timeless design.

Takeaway: The best alumni engagement strategies don’t lose sight of the basics, like compelling headlines and design.

We never take a one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s chat about a strategy that meets your needs.