Identifying a rich prospect pool, honing in on potential donors, and engaging constituents is a challenging process that giving gurus are always looking to streamline and improve. While traditional outreach methods—like throwing events—are proven and effective ways to reach an alumni base, social media provides a huge opportunity to pull at alums’ philanthropic heartstrings from afar.
We’ve talked about the utility of Facebook for fundraising, but today we’ll be focusing on another popular social network: Twitter. No longer a space reserved for following your favorite celebrity or staying up-to-date on what your friend ate for lunch (which, to be honest, probably wasn’t tweet-worthy anyway), Twitter is a platform that advancement should be using not only to reach out to alumni, but also to gather information that provides insight into the values and interests of donors and potential donors.
Here’s the thing: When alumni “favorite” or “retweet” posts from your institution’s Twitter handle, it shows their affinity for your institution and enables you to identify who is engaging with what type of content. This valuable data can help with a number of initiatives—from figuring out which alumni to target in a campaign to making more focused asks.
But first, in order to begin analyzing social data, your institution’s alumni Twitter handle needs to be producing content that resonates with followers and motivates them to engage with the tweets.
Check out some all-star tweets we wanted to “favorite” after examining several schools’ alumni Twitter handles!
We were particularly impressed with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s “TAG day” tweets. Complete with custom graphics and a fun, personable tone, the campaign was one of the most well executed we’ve seen on Twitter. It’s no surprise that RIT crushed the competition when we ranked the alumni Twitter profiles of schools in the Liberty League!
We also love the way the University of Dayton (a member of the Atlantic 10—see our Twitter rankings of the conference here) promotes giving on its alumni Twitter. By letting followers know that the university president occasionally calls donors to thank them for their contributions, they’ve created an awesome incentive to donate. RIT and University of Dayton remind us that using “please and thank you” is just as important in the virtual world as it is in the real world!
Including hashtags in tweets is a best practice that makes your content easier to find and encourages alumni to tweet at your institution. A simple catchy hashtag, like DePaul University’s #DeMONDAY, is a great way to build pride among your social media community. When we ranked the Big East Conference’s alumni Twitter accounts, DePaul’s spirited use of hashtags stood out as a smart strategy for boosting engagement.
As far as images go, American University’s alumni Twitter is showing alumni exactly what they want to see. Because the text of a tweet isn’t always eye catching, images are a surefire way to make your content stand out when alumni are scrolling through their feeds. Check out AU’s tweet above; we love how they layered a fun cartoon character over a beautiful picture of campus. (Hint: Images of campus always tend to perform well!) We probably don’t have to say it, but AU ended up near the top of our Twitter rankings of the Patriot League.
How can you see the above tweet and NOT want to give? Saint Mary’s College’s #1day1SMC tweets are all about giving, but they keep the mood light and fun by injecting a bit of humor into the asks. (That’s just part of the reason why SMC earned high marks in our Twitter rankings of the West Coast Conference schools.) We encourage other schools to follow SMC’s lead; humor is a uniquely powerful tool for getting people to take action.
While your office may be hesitant to invest staff and resources into running an active alumni Twitter, the benefits may be pleasantly surprising. Keeping alumni informed and reminding them that their alma mater is alive and well is the first step in cultivating an happy and generous community of alumni—and Twitter is just another “cog in the machine” that’ll help your team reach its yearly goals.