8 Ways Social Engagement Can Benefit Your University: Part 2

Engagement
8 Ways Social Engagement Can Benefit Your University: Part 2
By Arnie
May 18, 2021

In Part 1 of this three-part series, I explored some of the differences between traditional social media websites and next-generation alumni engagement platforms that have been purpose-built for colleges and universities. Specifically, I explained how they can help you to engage with your alumni on a more meaningful level by:

  1. Fostering meaningful connections between alumni and with their alma mater
  2. Emphasizing privacy and security
  3. Protecting your university’s brand image

In Part 2, I cover two more benefits of social engagement platforms: 

  1. Providing a personalized alumni engagement experience 
  2. Fostering inclusivity.

The Science Behind Social Networks

Professor Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford posited that each person can meaningfully connect with only about 150 people at a time; this theory is known as Dunbar’s Number. (That’s why 150 is the typical size of a gift officer’s portfolio.) Alumni engagement platforms like CueBack uphold the idea that people’s online presence should reflect that quality of human interaction. 

Think about your own alumni community. Are you equally interested in interacting with every single person in that group? Probably not. It’s more likely that you would prefer to interact with your friends, your former professors, your former teammates, and learn from specific mentors on topics that you are interested in. 

Everyone has their own preferences for who they interact with and what they want to see. Moreover, the interests and needs of a 22-year-old recent graduate embarking on their career are different from that of a 42-year-old mid-career alum with a family and that of a 62-year-old empty nester alum who is retired. In order to create a meaningful and engaging experience for your alumni, the content of your alumni engagement platform needs to reflect the various stages of your alumni’s professional and personal lives, where each alum’s interests, needs, affinities and relationships are unique. 

Benefit #4: Personalized Alumni Engagement

One of the downsides of the current social media model is that it limits colleges and universities to a one-size-fits-all approach. The traditional social media model is based on mass-broadcasting information. However, not all of that information will be relevant to each alum. 

A post about your school’s upcoming career workshop may be of interest to a recent graduate, but not to a retired alum in their 60s. Conversely, a baby boomer alum might want to be notified about their class’s 40-year reunion, while a millennial alum will simply scroll past this type of content. 

Because all of your alumni see the same thing when visiting the school’s page, they’ll have to continually scroll through content that isn’t relevant to their interests and needs. This approach will lead alumni to become disengaged and detached from your social media presence over time.

Alumni engagement platforms like CueBack remedy this issue by providing their users with a personalized engagement experience that adapts to the ever-changing needs of your alumni as they progress through the different professional and personal stages of their lives. Content is personalized and targeted to specific alumni so that they ‘speak’ to the individual. Furthermore, alumni-generated responses are also targeted so that each alum is shown content that is relevant and meaningful to them. 

CueBack understands that circumstances and objectives change. Therefore, we have designed our solution to easily adapt to your needs. Unlike other alumni engagement platforms, CueBack gives your school the creative freedom to add custom content that will help each department achieve its objectives. For instance, your university can add content to elicit alumni stories about specific topics or career advice for students and younger alumni. Companies such as Netflix have proven that this type of personalized approach increases engagement

This article is predicated on the supposition that one of the purposes of alumni engagement is to increase giving, particularly major, principal and planned giving. To that end, CueBack is purpose-built to reignite an alum’s emotional connection to their alma mater and strengthen alumni identity — both of which are proven drivers of giving

Colleges and universities can proactively increase alumni identity by microtargeting content based on each alum’s individual interests, affinities, and connections. For example, alumni who ran track under the same coach can find each other and swap stories about their favorite moments as student-athletes. Alternatively, career advice from older alumni can be directed towards recent graduates to help them start their first jobs. Microtargeting ensures that each alum has a personalized experience on the alumni engagement platform, leading to increased engagement. 

Benefit #5: Fostering a Culture of Inclusivity 

I have heard from alumni relations professionals that the reason why some alumni don't engage is because they believe their alma mater isn't interested in what they have to say. Many universities' social media pages and alumni magazines will showcase stories about famous alumni or those who have won awards, but they often neglect to recognize the vast majority of their alumni — thus making those alumni feel excluded.

A meaningful alumni engagement strategy requires your school to form a genuine connection with each alum and to let them know they are understood and appreciated by their alma mater. Engaging your alumni is directly beneficial to you because they can contribute to the brand equity of the institution and help to build a valuable content asset (I will expand more on this idea in Part 3.). 

Additionally, engaging different alumni can help with giving. Even if a particular alum isn’t a potential donor, they may be connected to other alumni who have the capacity to give. CueBack automatically identifies and gives insights into these connections, creating more opportunities for warm introductions rather than cold calls to high-value prospects. Low capacity alumni who are champions of your university may also be enlisted in the cultivation process if they are strongly connected to a high capacity prospect.

Taken as a whole, your alumni community embodies a vast range of diverse experiences and perspectives. CueBack promotes inclusivity by providing a platform where the voice of every alum is heard. The alumni engagement platform functions as a space in which each alum feels that they belong, regardless of identity, background, experience or perspective. 

We believe that personalization is the key to ensuring that each alum feels understood by their university. With our personalized approach, every alum can view and contribute content that is relevant to their own experiences. This not only ensures that the content speaks to the alum's unique experiences, but also that the alum’s response is meaningful to the student who reads it. 

Advice is more likely to be valued and listened to if it comes from someone similar to you. For example, a first-generation student or a veteran struggling with the transition to university life is more likely to appreciate advice from an alum who was also a first-generation student or a veteran.

Furthermore, CueBack can serve as a tool to raise awareness and understanding of diverse cultures in the alumni community. Each of your university’s affinity groups have specific interests and needs, and CueBack’s personalized approach helps you to fulfill them. 

In this way, social engagement platforms build stronger ties between an alum and their alumni community — and, by extension, their alma mater.

Stay tuned for Part 3 to find out how social engagement increases the ROI of Alumni Relations.

To learn more about how alumni engagement platforms like CueBack can benefit your institution, go to cueback.com/demo and request a FREE personalized demo.

Image Credit: pch.vector on Freepik

Alumni Engagement