There are so many ways alumni associations can use content marketing to engage their alumni and cultivate gifts for their school. Are you using all of these content strategies for your higher education clients?
In my experience, most alumni associations put much more effort into event marketing than content marketing.
But if that’s the core of your marketing or fundraising strategy for your higher education client, what are they doing during the majority of the year when there are no alumni reunions or fundraising events?
Consistent, irresistible content marketing is key to increase alumni engagement.
Here are some magnetic content categories you can use when marketing for your client’s alumni association.
In this category, we’ll cover the numerous ways you can create journalist and analytical content for your alumni association clients.
Reporting on Cutting Edge Research
I am always surprised at how few schools report on the great research they’re doing. Intriguing stories on innovative progress in the laboratory or academic leadership in key areas can attract alumni readers like a moth to a flame.
The trick is that while you’re reporting on academic work, your content should not be academic.
You’ve got to make your client’s content engaging and captivating. Think National Geographic. BBC. Popular Mechanics.
All of these popular media brands have taken relatively dry subjects and used compelling storytelling techniques to make it come alive to their readers.
In the same way, you can position your higher ed clients as innovative, history-making institutions by creating content around their latest academic research.
Campus Event Reporting
Since most alumni engagement strategies hinge on alumni events, it’s natural that most alumni content marketing pieces center on events.
Sadly though, most alumni events are covered in a trivial, forgettable style. Like…
“You just wouldn’t believe the amazing time we’re all having! Everything is perfect. Everyone is happy. You really should be here too!“
Beware of trite content like this.
Your content doesn’t have to be gloomy – but neither does it have to be superficial.
Look deeper at the event and cull out the meaning behind the interactions of the alumni who came.
- Why did they gather?
- What are they accomplishing?
- How are they all being bettered by the event?
- In what ways can absentee alumni still be connected to the objectives of the event?
Use questions like these to make your content potent and the event unforgettable.
Thought Leadership on Current News
Colleges and universities are full of people who think deeply about things.
When working with your alumni association clients, list the areas of thought that your client is known for. Then, identify professors and staff who have the expertise to speak into those areas.
These faculty and staff are your subject matter experts. Get permission to contact them directly to ask for their opinions.
Whenever something breaks in the news, you now have the experts you need to provide content for your client’s marketing channels.
The expertise of the professor or staff member plus the trending status of the current event can lead to viral content for your higher education client.
Alumni Personal Stories
People love reading, hearing, and watching stories about people.
Don’t let the hard work of story mining, interviewing, researching, etc. deter you from exploiting this valuable content asset for your higher ed client.
Interviews with Alumni
Interviewing individuals who’ve graduated from your client’s school can be a rich source of story content for their alumni association.
Here’s the simplest, cheap way to do this:
- Start with your client’s yearbooks.
- Do simple online searches and see which alumni are easiest to find and contact.
- Schedule an interview with the alumnus.
- Record the interview.
- Write the story (Or edit the video/audio for visual content!)
The beauty of this content strategy is that alumni are normally more than happy to share the interview with their social media followers elevating your client’s brand awareness for FREE.
Free, organic, earned. Can’t get better than that with content marketing.
Alumni Success Stories
Some alumni are so visible that you won’t be able to get an interview with them or you may not need one.
For these types, you could simply write a piece on them from the outside perspective of the alma mater.
Of course, make sure you cover them in a positive light. Negativity might get short-term engagement, but in the long run, it can ruin your client’s brand.
Alumni Giving or Volunteering Stories
When alumni come to the campus to volunteer for an event, register students, or give tours, it’s an act of sincere generosity that should be shared.
In the same way, a gift of a significant amount – or a donor who’s given consistently over a significant amount of time – can be an inspiration to other donors and alumni.
Help your alumni association client see the value of capturing these donor/alumni stories when they happen.
Encourage them to find ways to collaborate with the various teams within the office to find out when an alumnus is coming to volunteer or the alumni who are making a difference with their giving.
Then, capitalize on these stories for your client’s marketing and fundraising channels.
Jay Baer’s book Youtility showed that irresistible content is, at its core, useful to the audience.
There is an immense opportunity for colleges and universities to create useful content for their alumni audience, and that means more for you, the education marketer, to work with.
Many of your higher ed clients have a business school or academic division. The faculty and staff of the business school are content mines.
Using your contacts of your alumni association client, get in touch with the business faculty and staff and ask them to answer a few questions for the alumni about business.
With their permission (and their approval, if appropriate) you can fill up your client’s content pipeline with extremely useful, valuable content for the business owners of your client’s alumni audience.
Browse through social media platforms Pinterest and Instagram, and you’ll find a huge need for home decor advice.
You’ll also find lots of people who care deeply about their art, even though they’re not professional artists.
This market loves useful content that shows them how to make the spaces in their lives – homes, gardens, offices – beautiful and inspiring.
They also need helpful content that guides them along the artist’s path.
Your higher education client’s art department or school is a perfect place to find the content you need to serve their alumni’s artistic needs.
The alumni that are most likely to give, volunteer, or advocate for your higher education client’s brand are the same ones who are the most committed to their own development.
They are leaders, fathers, mothers, teachers, activists, executives – and they all need help upping their game.
Look to the theology, philosophy, history, and physical education departments to find the experts you need to fill this content need.
Make your client’s school brand the place that alumni go to find the content they’re looking for to attain their goals.
Exploiting each of these content areas can ramp up donor and alumni engagement for your higher education client. Which ones are you using and did I miss anything?