Alumni Marketing Playbook: Five Ideas for Engaging Young Alumni on Instagram

by on Mar 24, 2016

Every social media network has a target age demographic. This is a critical consideration for alumni marketers as they develop their social strategies, given that their audience extends across a broad range of ages from 21 to 65.

When it comes to connecting and engaging with young alumni under the age of 30, Instagram is a powerful weapon. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 55% of online adults ages 18-29 use Instagram. This number drops to 28% in the 30-49 age demographic and falls all the way to 11% among online adults 50-64. Instagram also enjoys a high usage rate with 59% of its users logging in daily. (Click through to see earlier posts from our Alumni Marketing Playbook on engaging alumni through other major social media channels, including alumni association Facebook pages, LinkedIn university pages and LinkedIn Groups.)

Many universities have seized the opportunity to engage young alumni on Instagram. The following list poses six strategies to boost engagement and better position alumni Instagram pages to reach this key demographic.

1) Showcase Campus Life: Instagram is the perfect social network to display the beauty of a campus and the excitement of student life. Shots of recent campus improvements, new student programs and candid student and faculty gatherings get a lot of casual engagement. Using hashtags to encourage alumni followers to submit pictures then posting those pictures and crediting followers is a great way to broaden an Instagram account’s reach.

2) Cover Sports Teams Using Images, Video and Informative Graphics: College athletics is a big source of pride for alumni at many universities. For schools with significant sports programs, posting game photos and graphics that announce and promote upcoming events is essential. Highlight videos and graphics offering score updates while the game is in progress, as well as post-game recaps, are informative and contribute to the sense of community that universities aim to foster with their young alums.

Dartmouth Campus Life and Michigan Football Alumni Instagrams

3) Run Interactive Campaigns: Interactive campaigns using hashtags with specific calls-to-action, such as submitting photos of campus life as mentioned above, are powerful engagement drivers. Story-focused Instagram accounts like Humans of New York have taught us that the social network can be used for more than visuals. For example, a number of universities have run campaigns that encourage married alumni to share a picture and briefly tell their story, such as Syracuse University’s #OrangeLove campaign.

4) Post Quotes, Seasonal Greetings and Other Engaging Graphics: Graphics are an integral part of a balanced alumni Instagram page. In addition to vivid imagery and multimedia, posting inspirational quotes and wishing alumni happy holidays with school-branded images are good ways to pick up likes and drive shares. Other engaging graphics ideas include fighting words for sports rivals ahead of a big game and statistics and findings from recent research conducted by alumni.

5) Promote and Capture Alumni Events: Events are integral to the alumni experience and in building a strong relationship with the alumni community. Instagram offers a great medium to promote upcoming events and to capture those experiences. Georgetown’s Instagram page excels in both areas; the university has built great diversity and creativity into its event schedule to grow engagement among young alumni. In addition to popular events like career fairs, the school promotes galas that focus on social issues and creative events like the ugly sweater-inspired Sweater Weather Workshop.

Syracuse #OrangeLove, Texas Tech Holiday and Georgetown Event Promotion Alumni Instagrams

For more information on Alumni Monitor and our research on alumni outreach and engagement, please contact Dana Peterson at or visit us at