As most advancement offices have figured out by now, having a presence on social media is more important than ever to achieving fundraising goals. The process of building meaningful relationships with alumni can’t even begin unless you’re able to reach them in the first place—and social media is a great tool to do so.
Today, we’re looking at schools that have created Facebook pages specific to their alumni associations. By having a Facebook presence separate from the university’s general page, alumni relations teams have the benefit of communicating with constituents in a centralized online location, plus the content can be tailored towards alumni.
We analyzed dozens of alumni Facebook pages to identify the kind of content that drives the most alumni engagement. Although there certainly isn’t a secret formula, we’ve identified the following five types of posts as essential to a successful alumni page.
1. Athletics Updates
Two words: school spirit. If alumni can’t make it out to the big game, turn your page into a virtual cheering section. As we discovered in our alumni Facebook page rankings of athletic powerhouse conferences like the SEC and the ACC (click through to get the rankings for each), posts related to athletics are almost guaranteed to accumulate record levels of engagement. From congratulating the team on a victory to offering words of encouragement before a rivalry game, make sure to get those sporting events on your content calendar!
Check out this top-performing post from the Ole Miss Alumni Association (University of Mississippi), which cheers on the Rebels in the Peach Bowl:
2. University News
Was there a new science program established on campus? Did your school make another national top 10 list? Spread the news! Alumni follow your page because they want to stay in the loop about what’s happening on campus and they want to hear about the university’s accolades. It helps them feel connected to their alma mater even though they might be miles away.
For example, the Cal Alumni Association, one of the schools analyzed in our Pac-12 alumni Facebook page rankings, shared some exciting university news (to the delight of their followers!):
3. Campus Scenery
When we analyzed the alumni Facebook pages of the NESCAC (click through to get the complete rankings), some of the most effective types of posts we saw fell into the category of campus imagery. With such beautiful and historic New England campuses, it would be a mistake not to give alumni visual reminders of where they used to spend their every day!
Take a hint from the Amherst College Alumni team, who posted a picture of a snowed-over field and scored a lot of engagement:
4. Holiday Greetings
Believe it or not, a simple “Happy Holidays” post could be your most successful of the year. Time and again, we’ve seen that fun, seasonal posts tend to perform well with alumni communities. Keep tabs on the calendar and queue up those holiday posts in advance, whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, or even the inevitable “Snow Day” for those schools that get wintry weather.
For best results, include a graphic—ideally custom-made—like the Arizona State University Alumni Association did in their New Year’s post:
5. Alumni and Faculty Spotlights
Every school has its contingent of superstar alumni and faculty; your Facebook page is the perfect place to shine a light on these high-achieving folks. By featuring former students who have gone off to do great things post-graduation—as well as professors who are exceptional at what they do—you can uphold your institution’s prestige and instill pride in alumni for the top-notch education they received.
In this post, West Virginia University (WVU) Alumni Association—one of the schools we analyzed in our Big 12 alumni Facebook page rankings—highlighted alum Ben Reed for his role in the film American Sniper:
If you’re posting quality content, the numbers will follow—but remember that higher levels of engagement won’t happen overnight. It takes a solid and consistent content strategy; we recommend that you share posts at least daily.
Once you are generating engagement, however, it’s time to take the next step. Ask yourself, who is liking your posts? Are they donating to your school? Dig deep into that social data to discover who is actively engaged with your institution, and use that information to fill your donor pipeline. If you want to learn more about prospect identification via Facebook, check out EverTrue TV Ep. 3: Understand!
Want to do more with Facebook? Learn how to get started using digital ads.