3 Practices for a Successful Modern Day Reunion
With the advent of ‘millennials’, alumni engagement had taken on a whole new meaning. They are the first digital natives, they are social, and the largest generation in the history. Their affinity for technology shapes their thinking. The good news is that technology has never been more available than it is now. All it takes is the right tools, great strategy and some patience to win their respect. That said, technology should not be allowed to overshadow the good ol’ traditions that keep great relations alive. A healthy mix of technology and tradition is what you are looking for.
We’ve done some of the homework for you and narrowed it down to 3 key practices that can help you manage your younger constituents through Reunions.
1. Identify the real goal for your institution.
Probably the oldest lesson in the book – the golden rule for any reunion, homecoming or any other event for that matter. But let’s try to take a look at it from another angle this time.
Why are you really planning the event? Is it because you’ve always been doing it? Is it to benefit the school?
Is tradition preventing you from being strategically relevant in today’s world?
Give your constituents a reason to come back.
Not just your alumni – but their parents, family, and friends too. In an age where the man with the most data wins, life-stage segmentation of constituents becomes crucial. Making use of this data Alumni / Advancement offices categorize their constituents into various categories and personalize the messages to suit the segment they are communicating with.
Schools that customize their alumni engagement strategies based on age and generation hold the key to a life‐long connection.
2. Make it personal! Going to school shouldn’t seem like business.
Nothing calls for introspection like when half of your constituents tell you that they don’t like the way you are reaching out to them. Homecoming/reunion events can be a very personal – to share one’s memories, meet their best friends and to relive all those precious moments again. If your alumni feel like you are going to corner them into donating money, they would much rather stay at home.
Does your messaging make your alumni uncomfortable? How do you know?
1. Make your messaging personal. Show them all that is going into the planning. Try to make your e-mail put a smile on their face and rekindle all those memories.
2.Make them a part of the planning process. Reunions are very personal. Your alumni can sense when the event belongs to them, and when it belongs to you.
3. Create a page on your alumni website with photos from previous events so that they are assured there is nothing else they would rather do.
As your class size increases, this may look like a pretty daunting task. But we’ve got your back.
My colleague, a business development executive has put together a great piece with his expertise to help you in writing e-mails that convert great!
3. How you say it is just as important as what you want to say.
Having the right message is only part of the entire picture. How do you get your message out? Where are your alumni most likely to read what you have to say?
Mail has worked great in the past, But very few millenials have a postal address they check and respond to regularly. For a generation that grew up with the internet, e-mails have worked great and have rised to be the most used and reliable form of communication now. Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are a great way to engage when you want to segment further by age, affinity, interests, etc..
Using the right channels help you target the right alumni segment. Tracking e-mails, analyzing reply rates help make better data-driven decisions. But how do you zero-in on a mode of communication with a large constituent base spread over different generations and various preferences?
1. Widen the playing field by using a central communication center that can both broadcast to and receive info from your alumni. You should be able to send e-mails, text messages, and web push notifications to mobile devices. A central platform should be able to reach each of your alumni segments in their preferred channels.
2.Send an initial invite to everyone via e-mail, followed by a campaign to spread the event page from your website on all social media. Your alumni may miss or not be able to respond to your email. A prompt to register while they browse their social media feeds can trigger them to take a deeper look into the event.
If you are already using Almabase here is how you can do it using our ‘Communication Center’ module which empowers you to take control of your outgoing communications.
In the next part of this ‘Engagement Maximizing’ series, we will take a look at ticketing, discounts, and the metrics you should be measuring while planning an event.