Alumni Marketing Playbook: Optimizing LinkedIn for Alumni Begins with University Pages

by on Feb 09, 2016

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Broad reach, user-centric infrastructure and cross-promotional power position Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as foundational building blocks for any alumni social media strategy. Each of the “big three” social networks can be powerful awareness drivers, helping universities grow their online alumni communities and spread alumni- and development-focused messaging far beyond the borders of campus. Of the three social networks that nearly everyone is familiar with, LinkedIn is the best equipped to forge deep relationships with alumni.

Understanding the Alumni Social Media Journey

In marketing, the customer journey is outlined in phases. Once prospects gain awareness of a product or service, they enter consideration where they vet the company and contemplate a buying decision. This is followed by evaluation where all the information gathered is processed and a purchase decision is made.

When applied to an alum’s social media journey, awareness is the act of discovering one’s alma mater’s social presences, and consideration is the decision to follow or like a presence. Evaluation is where an alum decides whether to take action to support the school through donations, spreading positive word-of-mouth, advocating on the university’s behalf, etc.

All of the big three social networks can get alumni to consideration, but LinkedIn can have the greatest impact during the all-important evaluation phase. There are two key reasons for this: LinkedIn’s demographics and the motivations of its user base.

Demographics

As of this writing, LinkedIn boasts roughly 400 million active users. Given that it is a social network for working professionals, LinkedIn skews older, with most active users falling between 30 and 64. The typical LinkedIn user is a college graduate with a higher average level of education and higher average income (75% of users make over $50,000) than other social networks. This profile makes LinkedIn a natural fit for fundraising campaigns and to build a network of influential alumni who can serve as advocates with applicants and other groups.

User Motivations

LinkedIn users are focused on building their personal professional profiles as they job hunt and connect with peers who can help them further their careers. Education is an integral component in every LinkedIn profile, and connecting profiles and university pages is in every user’s best interest. Not only does this link communicate users’ education levels, it also increases their odds of connecting with the right alumni. Thus, all 400 million LinkedIn profiles offer opportunities for universities to build awareness and regularly message their alumni without using email.

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LinkedIn Profile Education Section

Five Ways to Optimize LinkedIn University Page Content for Alumni

Capitalizing on LinkedIn’s unique alumni marketing opportunities begins with a strong main university page. This page is the university’s hub on LinkedIn for alumni to find each other and learn about the latest developments at their alma mater. Here are the five types of content every university page should feature to maximize alumni engagement:

1. Jobs and Networking: By its nature, LinkedIn is the best social network to promote alumni career events and job fairs. However, events promoted on LinkedIn do not always have to be job-focused. General networking events and group workshops that focus on quality of life and lifestyle advice are also impactful. In the example below, Binghamton University does a good job of clearly communicating the focal points and benefits of their upcoming alumni event.

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Binghamton University Networking Event Posting

2. Alumni Profiles and Testimonials: Highlighting alumni success stories is a best practice for engaging different age demographics on LinkedIn. It is critical to offer a good mix of content ranging from profiles of recent graduates working at cutting-edge startups to a Q&A with an older alum who is now CEO of a major corporation.

3. Athletics: Collegiate sports are one of the greatest sources of alumni pride. Cheering on the alma mater’s football and basketball teams is a time-honored tradition that continues well beyond graduation for many. Posting updates with compelling images after winning championships or beating rival schools drives engagement. Ohio State’s post below features straightforward copy and lets the image do the talking.

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Ohio State Football Promotion

4. Charitable Giving and Fundraising: More mature and affluent, the LinkedIn audience is the best fit of the big three social networks for philanthropy and fundraising campaigns – important to every school, big or small. Schools should use LinkedIn to spread awareness about charitable giving campaigns initiated by students or faculty. Highlighting great causes shows the university’s human side. When it comes to fundraising, campaigns should be deployed more sparingly and thoughtfully. Targeting specific audiences with personalized fundraising appeals is a best practice.

5. Latest News and Research: These types of posts should account for a large portion of university page content. Frequent posts keep alumni up to date on everything from the latest architectural enhancements on campus to exciting new research findings released by students, faculty and alumni. Showing alumni that university funds are being spent intelligently to improve the student experience and to establish the school as a thought leader and innovator across academia inspires confidence and pride – two emotions that can help move the dial when it comes to donations.

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Princeton Latest Research Post

For more information on Alumni Monitor and our research on alumni outreach and engagement, please contact Dana Peterson at dpeterson@corporateinsight.com or visit us at alumnimonitor.corporateinsight.com.