Technology has revolutionized the world, including the field of higher education and Alumni Engagement. Institutions recognize the significance of a Strong Digital Presence in their Alumni Playbook, as technology continues to shape their development.
The Alumni Connect initiative introduced by UGC proposes the establishment of IT infrastructure for the management of Alumni data and activities in all the institutions highlighting the importance of Digital transition. Top schools like Harvard and Stanford make their first impressions digital by maintaining a well-built online presence, Harvard Alumni read streaming posts about researchers’ latest breakthroughs and keep up with the news on the School’s home page before pledging their donations.
A strong digital presence is crucial in today’s interconnected world and can significantly contribute to better alumni engagement providing various platforms and opportunities for alumni to connect, stay informed, and network in the alumni community.
Let’s take a closer look at how digital presence can help:
Almost everyone across the world is familiar with the concept of digital presence and we can connect with individuals from different geographic regions opening up new opportunities to expand your audience. Digital presence on different social media platforms would improve the Institution’s visibility allowing Alumni to find and connect across the world. This makes reaching out to Alumni easier, be it for suggestions about jobs/Industries or insights when shifting to a new place, and enables Alumni to give back seamlessly from afar.
Alumni differ based on their graduation years, interests, backgrounds, and professional skills. Various events cater to different groups of alumni, such as chapter reunions that are more accessible to alumni in specific locations. Digital presence facilitates the creation of specific groups and enables targeted communication with the audience. Digital platforms such as websites, social media, and email newsletters allow institutions to regularly communicate with their alumni, keeping them informed and engaged.
The digital world permits you to both open and shut with the people around you with the help of personalization. It helps Alumni to become a part of online communities as per their preferences and provides a space for alumni to interact, seek advice, and foster professional relationships. Also, it facilitates the upcoming entrepreneurs to exhibit their startups.
With everything being advanced online, interaction has also caught up. Digital presence would aid video conferencing platforms enabling remote mentoring sessions, webinars, and online workshops. Digital platforms allow alumni to provide mentoring and career support to current students or recent graduates. Alumni can share their expertise, offer guidance, and facilitate job opportunities through these online mentoring programs.
Events and reunions
Digital presence enables the promotion and organization of alumni events. Websites and social media can be used to publicize reunions, networking events, career fairs, or guest speaker sessions. Also, virtual alumni reunions or events have removed the geographical barrier encouraging Alumni to take part irrespective of the location they’re currently in, enhancing engagement. Online event registration and RSVP systems make it easier for alumni to participate.
Alumni associations can promote fundraising campaigns or donation drives over digital platforms. Websites and social media can be used to share stories, impact reports, and specific projects that alumni can contribute to, making it convenient for them to donate online. Online surveys or feedback forms provide a convenient way for alumni to share their thoughts, suggestions, and ideas, ensuring their voices are heard and valued.
Having a strong online presence would also help in the branding of the institution as it provides an opportunity to showcase alumni achievements, success stories, and career highlights. Featuring alumni on websites, social media, or newsletters not only recognizes their accomplishments but also encourages other alumni, thus improving the brand value of the institution as well as engagement.
While we understand that a robust digital presence facilitates regular communication, fosters connections, and provides convenient channels for alumni engagement, here are some ways to ace a strong digital presence:
Having a centralized platform creates a single place for Alumni to collaborate and engage with the institution. With the help of a dedicated space for Alumni, engagement strategies become more informed and effective. Also, it serves as a source to analyze and measure engagement. This digital-first movement creates new expectations for Alumni – While having a mobile-friendly website is great, enabling a Mobile App version of your platform would create a positive experience for Alumni stepping up their Engagement.
Using multiple social media platforms can be an effective strategy for Alumni Engagement to reach and connect with a wider audience. Creating dedicated pages on platforms like Facebook, and Instagram for Alumni to engage and discuss, using them to promote events/reunions and to showcase alumni accomplishments, and campus memories would foster a sense of Community. Similar way, Twitter can be used for sharing quick updates and creating a branded hashtag for the Alumni community. Alumni groups on messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Telegram for more intimate and direct communication. LinkedIn would be useful for Professional networking enabling to share career opportunities and engage in discussions. Choosing platforms as per the goals of Alumni and institution is equally important to maintain an active presence and encourage participation in a vibrant alumni community.
Ideally, engagement with the institution starts as soon as the student enters the campus. A strategy that involves throughout the learner’s journey benefits everyone. Let students register on the platforms in their pre-final and final years enabling peer-to-peer connection with Alumni. Mentoring sessions and industry-specific discussions on the portal with experienced Alumni would help enhance engagement and also, help in Student retention and Success. Building Student Alumni cells in the campus which would take part in conducting webinars/workshops inviting notable Alumni as guest speakers and promoting them on digital platforms is a powerful tool to nurture involvement from the students as well as the Alumni.
In the modern digital landscape, personalization has become the core for better engagement. Customizing features and notifications based on the preferences of the Alumni help enhance user experience. Enabling Alumni to choose to display the content as per their own interests on the digital platforms that Institutions use to engage and sending push notifications for the upcoming events that Alumni are interested in and targeted messaging keeps Alumni engaged. Allowing Alumni to create interest groups structured on their preferences on multiple platforms defining a purpose would create a custom experience for Alumni and allow them to stay engaged.
5. Data-Driven Strategy – Strategies planned on data and analytics are the most effective. By analyzing the trends, and priorities of the Alumni, these can be quickly adapted. Insights about student involvement profiles and engagement preferences on digital platforms help us identify active Alumni and keep them engaged. Recognize 5-10 measurable metrics like Survey responses, Email analytics, Reunion count, mentor participation, event attendance, funds raised, etc., and these can be used as benchmarks for future strategies. With time this will help uncover trends and achieve more success in engagement.
Digital Presence boosts visibility and brand recognition through diverse platforms. It fosters communication, engagement, and professional development, promoting the success of both alumni and institutions, enabling them to maintain connections and contribute back. In today’s pursuit of elevated alumni engagement, Digital presence is crucial for building an agile strategy.
While establishing a robust digital presence requires significant time and effort, the potential benefits make it worthwhile. Interested in polishing your strategies for Alumni Engagement? Feel free to reach out.