The Importance of AlumniApril 16, 2019
A note from Digistorm: This post was originally published in January 2018. We've updated it to include more valuable, relevant content.
When students graduate from your school, they’re immediately thrown out into the big wide world, whether their paths lead them to university, work, travelling or some combination of all three. As they leave the hallowed halls of your institution behind, it’s easy for that connection they’ve fostered over the years to wane a little - that is, unless you have a strategy in place that specifically caters to your alumni.
Not only do alumni have the potential to be great representatives for your school, but they also go on to achieve amazing things - after all, they were educated by the best! That’s why keeping in contact with them through various means is incredibly important. Alumni can tap into markets you may not foresee, as they begin to associate with different circles within their community. Via word of mouth, alumni are the perfect spokespeople - if you maintain that all-important connection, that is.
Here are a few tips to best engage past students in the years following their graduation from your school.
Keep up with alumni achievements
Your alumni are out there doing amazing things - after all, they went to your school! Keeping track of and calling out their achievements will help position your school as a destination for successful people, and will also give them a little exposure in return.
One way schools successfully do this is through ‘past student shout-outs’ across mediums like school newsletters, social media and blog posts. Creating a section in your quarterly or bi-annually newsletter, asking alumni to reach out with their achievements, is a great way to encourage communication - people love sharing their success! Be sure not to put limits on what kind of ‘success’ you accept, either - showing a good balance of potential pathways will translate well to current students, showing them there’s a variety of routes that can be taken to achieve success.
Involve them in events
Alumni may not be too inclined to turn up to school functions when invited, but special events? There’s your draw card! Everything from your typical reunion to big sporting matches, musicals, anniversary celebrations and gala events have been shown to draw alumni back.
Make the most of their presence by getting them talking, whether that be in person on the day or via social media. Fostering a stronger connection will ensure your school stays top of mind when they’re working out where to send their child to school, or when their co-worker asks what they think of their alma mater.
Use their favourite mediums
If you’re looking at engaging recently graduated alumni (let’s say, those who’ve finished in the past 10 years), then the mediums they’ll use will be quite predictable. Two of the most common marketing mediums used by millennials are social media (specifically Facebook and Instagram) and email. Of course, this may not be the case for your school for some reason - refer back to past communications and identify which platforms seem to be the most popular. Then, it’s time to start reaching out.
We all know there are countless ways to use social media and email campaigns to your benefit, so it really comes down to what you think will work for you - use your creativity. A few tried and true methods include surveys to past alumni, hashtag competitions requesting old photos, setting up ‘Class of’ Facebook groups and more. Remember, your goal is to keep your school at the forefront of their minds, so that if they have to choose an educational provider for their own children, you’re automatically in the mix.
Set up a portal
Of course, now that your alumni are feeling really connected with your school, they’ll want a place to chat with their former peers about the good old days. A common way of facilitating this is through an alumni portal, AKA a place former students can go to access information such as notices, old school photos, contact lists and more. This not only ensures alumni maintain their relationship with your school, but that they’re linked with one another. A portal can easily be implemented onto your school’s website, and can be divided by year level, house and more so that various groups have the opportunity to reconnect.