engagement metrics

4 things Alumni Associations can learn from Professional Organizations

As we head into 2017, alumni relations professionals are re-strategizing how to cultivate strong connections throughout their university ecosystem. With Alumni Associations adapting to new ways of engaging with constituents, we wanted to evaluate how other membership-based organizations – namely, professional associations – approached member engagement.

While often structured differently, alumni associations and professional organizations share a number of overarching goals and approaches to engaging constituents.

For this reason, we wanted to share a few key insights on member engagement that alumni associations can take away from their professional counterparts and leverage in the New Year.

1. Don’t become too dependent on social media

Don't get me wrong – social media can be an incredible tool. Your constituents are already using, it takes minimal effort to set up a page, and it’s an immediate way to engage with your members and prospects.

Still, relying too heavily on Facebook or LinkedIn to connect with your constituents can become problematic for a number of reasons.

The truth is, social media doesn’t work the way it used to, and it definitely won’t look the same in a year or two.

These networking platforms are constantly changing their algorithms, affecting what content actually appears on your members’ timelines and dampening the organic reach of your posts.

More and more often, both businesses and membership-organizations are forced to “pay to play” in order to get an adequate return on their social media posts.

While business organizations adjust their marketing strategy accordingly, it's also more clear than ever that alumni networks need a new home. Start diversifying the channels you use to engage with alumni and investing in tools that allow you to connect with them directly.

2. “I’m busy” doesn’t mean “I’m not interested”

We’ve all seen the articles talking about how 'busyness' has become glorified in our society. It seems like everyone has less free time than they used to (and they love to talk about it, too).

Busy members can be difficult to engage with, whether for a professional organization or an alumni association.

Still, don’t use busyness as an excuse to write alumni off. Treat each “I’m busy” like an “I only have a moment to spare”.

Find small, sustainable engagements that even your busiest members can take. Make these easily accessible and reward those who choose to participate.

If you’re looking for inspiration, we’re big fans of Longwood University’s 1 Hour a Month program as a way to make volunteerism more accessible!

3. Connections are the most valuable membership benefit

Both alumni and professional associations invest a lot of energy and resources into offering their members great benefits and rewards. While your members undoubtedly appreciate these benefits, chances are that they didn’t sign-up for lifetime alumni memberships because they wanted a 10% discount on their home insurance.

Whether alumni or professional, members join associations to connect with others who share a common interest or experience.

We've said it before and I'll say it again – connections are the most valuable membership benefit you can offer.

Thankfully, connecting your alumni doesn’t always need an advanced “mentor matching” algorithm.

You just need to provide your alumni with the right channels to naturally find each other - whether through networking events, alumni engagement platforms like Tassl App, or even innovative virtual tools like Potluck or Brazen.

4. Information is one of your greatest assets

The one thing you do need to effectively connect with alumni is their information. Many schools and alumni associations have recognized this, and are stepping up their efforts to collect contact information from their members.

But email addresses alone aren’t enough. Both professional organizations and businesses are using insights and business intelligence to better assess members’ engagement interests and to personalize their outreach. Having the right data supports more strategic business thinking and can allow for a better allocation of resources across an institution.

This is yet another reason to move away from using Facebook or LinkedIn alone to engage with alumni, which strips your engagements of meaningful data and alumni information.

Collecting this kind of data may seem daunting for a university, but it’s not out of reach. Alumni engagement platforms, like Tassl, make it easy to create engagement scores and to leverage this information to inform your outreach strategy.

What engagement strategies will you be leveraging in 2017? Let us know below or @TasslApp!