Earlier this month, we ran the numbers on the alumni Facebook pages of all 14 Big Ten schools to see who came out on top in 2014. Apparently a lot of you were interested in those rankings, so much so that we received requests to rank the alumni Facebook pages of the Founders League, the athletic conference in which 11 leading New England independent schools compete athletically and academically. And we love a good social ranking.
This time, we’ve introduced data from LikeAlyzer to help us grade each school based on post quality, alumni engagement, effort, and the likes, comments, and shares on its top-performing post. This is what we found (drumroll please…):
1. Trinity-Pawling School
Post Quality Rating: 10
Alumni Engagement Rating: 10
Trinity-Pawling is doing something very right when it comes to engaging its alumni on Facebook. The school doesn’t have the most page likes relative to its alumni population’s size, but it certainly knows how to keep those that have adopted engaged. The top post in the last two months was a video that showed current students erupting in applause at the announcement of a Headmaster’s Day Off, a tradition that brought alumni back to their days in that audience.
The mix of video media and images that Trinity-Pawling shares combined with the nostalgia it evokes help engage alumni. Still, were the Pride to post more often (they post only every third day on average), it would better engage its fans. After all, the more content you post, the more likely people will see it.
2. Kent School
Post Quality Rating: 7
Alumni Engagement Rating: 7
Kent School has done a stellar job engaging its alumni, especially in the last month. The school uses striking photos in almost three quarters of its posts, with the top post (above) serving as a great example. The post includes a current student’s photo of a snowy Kent School campus lit up in the early evening like a winter wonderland. Not all schools have a protégé photographer to show off to alumni, but this post demonstrates two virtues that engage alumni: the talent of current students and the conjuring of campus memories, rekindling the bond they have with their school. It’s no wonder 14 people shared it!
The Kent School does, however, need to engage alumni to this degree on a more consistent basis. The page’s engagement percentage is down around 4.5%, one-third as strong as Trinity-Pawling. We challenge Kent School to produce this creative, quality content with every post.
3. The Ethel Walker School
The Ethel Walker School has delivered excellent content to its alumni Facebook fans, who regularly fawn over the posted images and videos of the student life. The school’s posts are timely, diverse, and receive excellent responses from alumni in return. The top post was a video of the annual Holiday ride, an 87-year-old tradition. It’s no surprise that alumni across generations loved this one.
Still, the page hasn’t engaged alumni to its fullest potential. While posts about current campus life are essential and the school does a great job marketing its brand, Ethel Walker could benefit from posting more consistently about days of yore that harken back to the experiences of its alumni. Picking up on old traditions or events that alumni remember fondly will improve the connection alumni feel toward the school.
4. The Hotchkiss School
Hotchkiss does a great job of posting quality material. Almost 5,000 people have liked the alumni page, and they comment on and share almost all of the posted content, which typically includes images of students and campus events. The page’s top post highlights a unique take on a holiday standard courtesy of Hotchkiss’ beloved librarians.
As is the strategy of many schools, Hotchkiss relies on sports to rally alumni engagement. While this tactic catches the eyes of those alums who care about the featured sports, these posts typically engage only a small fraction of the alumni base (especially if the picture isn’t spectacular). We challenge Hotchkiss replace some of its sports images with a greater variety of content. More frequent posting can also help boost engagement; we noticed that occasionally the page goes weeks at a time without posting and then posts a lot in a short period of time after that. By making social media an integrated part of the every day engagement strategy, consistent post frequency will help alums get into a regular cadence of engagement.
5. Avon Old Farms School
Before Holiday Break, Avon Old Farms did a terrific job of sharing content consistently with captivating images of sports, traditions, student life, and even well-received ads for gear. Unsurprisingly, their boar’s head tradition took the cake for best post, garnering a whopping 217 likes and 15 shares.
Unfortunately, since the holidays, the school has fallen a bit off track. (Who doesn’t need a break after the holidays!) The posts on the page in January have included only text with the occasional link to a calendar event. Not too engaging. With the new year, we challenge Avon Old Farms to rediscover the energy creativity of their earlier posts.
6. Miss Porter’s School
Miss Porter’s School posts an excellent mixture of content related to school traditions, student pursuits, alumni accomplishments, and historical fanfare. On occasion, the page posts a question related to a school event—like reunion—and gives Miss Porter’s memorabilia to the first alum to correctly answer. It can be hard to give away prizes every week, but posing a trivia question once a month, every month can help you capitalize on this great idea.
While the posts are engaging, Miss Porter’s only posts only once a week, contributing to its low engagement numbers. To remain top-of-mind and in the top of the News feed, the school should post more frequently.
7. Kingswood Oxford School
Kingswood Oxford School keeps its page interesting by introducing diverse content each day. It capitalizes both on its students’ broad ranges of talent (including a cappella performances, sports victories, and academic successes) and also on its visibly engaged alumni. The page launched a successful #GivingTuesday campaign that featured pictures of alums who donated with a quote about why they gave. Very inspiring!
Still, Kingswood Oxford has been struggling to increase the number of likes on its alumni page. With one of the slowest recent growth rates in the Founders League (1.4%/month), the school should focus on reaching out to alumni through email or invitations sent directly through Facebook to encourage non-likers to like the page. Alumni can’t get your content if they haven’t liked your page.
8. Westminster School
Westminster posts frequently, with strong, nostalgic, school-spirited content, yet it struggles to get alumni to like, comment, and share that content. Why? Only a small percentage of the school’s alumni base has liked the page, and the rate at which the school is growing its following is the slowest in the League.
We suggest Westminster focus on growing its fan base, starting with Facebook invitations asking alums to like en masse.
9. The Taft School
Before the new year, The Taft School had a relatively lackluster fan base on Facebook. With a strong effort in 2015, though, the school looks is turning the tide and improving its engagement performance.
Taft still has fewer than 2,000 page likes, a significant underperformance for a school of its size. The alumni page should capitalize on the tools offered by Facebook; for example, mobile ads—which can be customized to specific segments of the school’s alumni population—can increase the number of alums who get the pages updates. In terms of content, Taft should attempt to showcase its traditions and campus more and rely less on sports-related posts.
10. Loomis Chaffee School
Loomis Chaffee is not toward the bottom of this list for lack of trying. This school is putting in the work with regular, consistent posting. Looking at the page, it seems almost as if its alumni are apathetic when it comes to social media. However, a deeper look reveals that the school’s posts lack the eye-catching qualities of those of their peers. For instance, Loomis Chaffee rarely posts pictures or celebrates the talents of its current student body. While we love the idea of its throwback alumni photos, right now those pictures only go back five to 10 years, which makes them fall short of catching the attention of alumni who graduated 30, 40, or 50+ years ago.
Creating connections across generations of alums can bolster the school’s alumni Facebook presence. Its nearly 4,000 fans are just starving for nostalgia-inducing content. Go give it to them!
11. Choate Rosemary Hall
Choate Rosemary Hall’s alumni Facebook page hasn’t been performing well at all. This could be a result of competing priorities, a lack of manpower to head a social initiative, etc. In a world that’s becoming increasingly connected by and plugged into social media, Choate could really benefit from an investment in this page.
Begin by posting once each week to increase the frequency at which you appear in alums’ News Feeds. And be sure to include a photo in every post to help your post standout among the rest.
Whether you found your institution at the top, middle, or bottom of the list, there’s always room for improvement. Adhering to the following Facebook best practices can help bring your alumni page to the next level:
FACEBOOK BEST PRACTICES
- Create an alumni page distinct from your general institution’s page. This enables you to create content specifically for alums without diluting the message with posts targeted at current students. If you are part of a university with multiple campus locations, you should also create a separate alumni Facebook page for each campus. Each location has its own identity, which resonates with its respective alumni and allows you to further customize content.
- Link your institution’s other social media, like its alumni Twitter and Instagram feeds, to its alumni Facebook page. You should also consider linking to regional alumni group pages on Facebook, as well as linking to your alumni association’s website to make joining and membership renewal as easy as possible.
- Regularly update your page’s cover photo, preferably monthly. Try to make each cover photo relevant to the time of year, whether it’s Bowl Game Day or Halloween.
- Promote the page to increase the total number of likes. That way, the content you publish will reach and engage a larger percentage of your alumni base. Given that Facebook’s organic reach is on the decline, you should consider boosting posts in order to reach a greater percentage of your audience. And increasing your alumni adoption rate can maximize the impact of your social investment by cultivating a larger pool of potential donors.
- Include an image in every post. Facebook data shows that posts with photos perform better than posts with only links; photos display more prominently in users’ News Feeds. Alumni are also more apt to like, comment on, and share posts that have attractive images!
- Use hashtags consistently. Hashtags are ineffective when used once and then forgotten; devise one catchy, general phrase that embodies the pride of your alumni and stick to that phrase when inserting hashtags in posts.
- Post nostalgic content that encourages alumni to remember their time at their alma mater. Alums love to share memories and reminisce about their college years! “Throwback Thursday” and “Flashback Friday” posts are fun and engaging way to rouse these memories and to also share little-known facts about the university. And beautiful campus shots are never a letdown!
- Share content from other school-affiliated Facebook pages. In addition to organically promoting those other pages, this tactic is an easy way to keep the great content flowing.
- Pose a question in a post about once a week. This encourages alumni to share their thoughts in the comments and increases engagement.