Alumni Relations News Roundup


‘Inspired by Yale’ Video Showcases Alumni Groups and Engagement

Take a peek at Yale’s alumni relations successes from the past year, and learn some interesting trends and approaches.  Among them: Reunions today are more vibrant than ever, setting new records in 2015 for overall attendance. More than 7,000 graduates, family, and friends returned for Yale College reunions in the spring of 2015.

‘Will they switch off Game of Thrones for this?’ The Art of Alumni Communication

The Guardian’s Higher Education Network offers this great article on communicating with alumni. The bottom line: “You’re up against Twitter, text messages and diminishing attention spans, so make it snappy (and not about strategic plans).”

After Unrest, Mizzou Alumni Association Revives Black Alumni Network

The University of Missouri’s alumni association has re-instituted its Black Alumni Network in response to numerous requests made in the weeks after racial tensions exploded on the school’s campus.

Alumni Giving Study Affirms Connection between Engagement and Giving

Corporate Insights recently reported that although nearly eight in ten alumni “feel positively” about their alma mater, only 22% have donated to their college or university in the last year. The report explored characteristics of donors vs. non-donors, and a key finding was that eighty percent of alumni donors indicated they have benefitted from their association with their alma mater. Among others, this finding underscores the new framework for alumni engagement: providing lifelong value for lifelong loyalty.


Using MOOCs to Engage Alumni, and Other News and Ideas

Schools Use Free Online Courses to Engage AlumniGraduates in Cap and Gown
Beyond a cost-reducing measure, can Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) be a tool for alumni engagement? This article explores the potential for MOOCs to add value for alumni both as learners and facilitators. Referenced in the article is Harvard’s  The Ancient Greek Hero course, in which 80 alumni served as online mentors and field experts in a class of 10,000 students.

University Engagement: 5 New Ways to Think About Alumni Engagement
Changes in the communication landscape and the college experience in general require colleges and universities to reframe their alumni engagement approach. In this post, Jay Sharman, Founder and CEO of TeamWorks Media, offers 5 new ways to think about your alumni communications strategies.

5 Ways to Use Pinterest to Engage Alumni
As the third-largest social media site, Pinterest offers a unique platform for online engagement. From showcasing notable alumni to “pinning your alumni pride,” here are 5 ways schools are already using Pinterest to engage alumni online. For more tips, see our colleague Justin Ware’s blog post: “Pinterest For Nonprofit Work Done Right.”

Words for New Alumni
What did our newest alumni hear at their commencement ceremonies? The Chronicle of Higher Education offers this roundup of inspiration from 11 schools this commencement season. And don’t miss Business Insider’s “23 Of The Best Pieces Of Advice Ever Given To Graduates.”

Harvard Alumnus Donates $125 Million, Again
A Harvard Business School alumnus who gave the university its largest gift is making a second $125 million donation to the school to fund a bioengineering institute.

How to Develop Your Social Media Strategy for Alumni Engagement – Part 2

In my last post, I outlined how to engage your online ambassadors as you develop your online and social media strategy. Now I’ll describe the components that make up a good strategy.

After (or better yet, before) you’ve forged strong relationships with online ambassadors, your strategy will serve as your road map for anyone in your organization charged with managing the conversation with your members and other constituents online. The strategy is a document that clearly communicates what your alumni association is trying to accomplish online and how you’re going to do it. Post it online so that it’s available to your conversation managers 24 hours a day (the Internet never sleeps).

The strategy should include the following:

A social media strategy should serve as your organization’s online road map.

Goals What are you trying to accomplish? Put this in writing and make sure everyone knows AND understands your goals.

Realistic Look at Resources In a perfect world, you’ve hired a full-time online and social media manager (eventually, they’ll be as commonplace as communication directors …or maybe they’ll be the communication director). However, if the decision to hire a social media manager hasn’t been made yet, you’ll need to make do with what you already have. Often that means forming a committee of current employees to manage content and conversations online. For a great example of where that’s working well, have a look at this video on UNC’s social media committee for development.

Resources might also include any capital investments you make. For example, do you want to invest in high quality camera gear? Maybe you have the budget to invest in a green-screen studio for your organization?

Tools Facebook? Instagram? Pinterest? What are you going to use to get your message across? It helps your conversation managers if this is clearly established and put in writing.

Tactics (a.k.a. your Content Strategy) This is a crucial component to your online and social media strategy. This is what an alumni relations officer will refer to at 5 pm on a Saturday when they’re trying to answer a time-sensitive question from a prominent alum via Twitter. Your tactics will instruct conversation managers on what they should post and when. What makes for good video content? What photo galleries are most popular? What items should be avoided at all costs? Part of your content strategy will already be determined by what your audience tells you they want. The rest should be focused on how you’re planning on working your messages into that content that meets audience demand.

Method of Measurement This is a crucial component that will tell you whether what you’re doing is working or if you need to change course. And there’s nothing wrong with changing course. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why you measure your strategy’s progress toward reaching your goals. The best online and social media strategies are the result of multiple revisions over time. Even if you get it right the first time, your audience’s needs and wants will change and you need to be ready to change with them. Keeping track of your strategy with multiple methods of measurement will help you do that.

Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner. For more on Justin, click here.