The Anatomy of an Effective Alumni Facebook Strategy

Jan 13, 2016 - Joe Matar
Imagine a world where doctors performed brain surgeries without knowing where or what a frontal lobe was. Now, imagine a world where universities operated alumni Facebook pages without knowing how to create great content. In both scenarios, without understanding how something works, it’s impossible to diagnose problems and optimize performance. [clickToTweet tweet="Is your #alumni Facebook strategy optimized for alumni giving? Learn how here:" quote="Is your alumni Facebook strategy optimized for alumni giving? "] So let’s dissect (pun definitely intended) the different parts of an alumni Facebook strategy that will ultimately lead to alumni donations:

1. The Face: A Well-Optimized Page

A perfectly optimized Facebook page is the face of your alumni engagement efforts on Facebook. There are a few key parts that make up a great Facebook page:

Cover Photo:

The cover photo should embody one word: nostalgia. Because it is the first thing that alumni will see when they visit the page, it is a great opportunity to fire up those emotional triggers from the start. Old and new pictures of the campus, yearbooks, classrooms, or sporting events, for example, should do the trick. Check out this recent example by Stanford for proof: Stanford Cover Photo Their alumni page changed their cover photo 18 hours after winning the Pac-12 championship game against USC. Oh, and the alumni are eating it up — look at those likes!

Profile Photo:

The short-and-sweet formula to an effective profile photo is university logo + the word “alumni.” This helps to easily distinguish your alumni page from your admissions or student page.

“About” Section:

The about section of an alumni page should do two things: help alumni to find you on Facebook and give alumni the opportunity to get more information or even the link to support monetarily. You can help alumni to find you by using certain keywords. For example, Florida State University might use the keywords “ Florida State alumni” in their about section. Why? That is the natural thing an alumni might type into Facebook’s search bar.

Call-to-action Button:

Facebook has recently released a new feature to increase interaction called call-to-action buttons. The button sits on top of your cover photo and allows universities to link the button to any destination on or off Facebook to accomplish goals such as building up an email list, featuring a video, driving memberships, and much more. The “Sign Up” call-to-action button appears to be the most popular amongst Universities. Here's how the Indiana University Alumni Association uses the “Sign Up” call-to-action button to drive memberships. Indiana University Alumni Association When clicked, the button links to their alumni membership page. Indiana University Alumni Membership Looking to try this feature out? Follow these 3 easy steps to add a call-to-action button to you alumni Facebook page today:
  1. Go to your Page’s cover photo and click Create Call to Action.
  2. Choose your call to action, and enter the URL for your website.
  3. Click Create.
Boom. Told you it was easy!


In order for alumni to see your facebook posts they have to “Like” your page. Unfortunately, that is only half the battle due to way facebook handles the reach of your posts. Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average when they post and only the people who consistently engage with your content (like, share, comment) will actually see your content on their news feed. So, how do you beat Facebook at their own game and increase your reach? You must encourage your fans to receive a notification every time you post. Facebook Notifications Here are the steps to give your fans to make sure they see all of your posts:
  1. Navigate to your Facebook page.
  2. “Like” the Page and continue hovering over the “Like” button
  3. Select Notifications from the drop down menu
  4. Check “All post” and “Events”
  5. Click done

2. The Heart: Great Content

Without a heart, humans can’t survive and the same is true for an alumni Facebook page. Great content is what keeps alumni engaged and attached. The content that is posted should spark emotion – the good kind, of course. Help alumni remember the first day of school trying to find their class, that favorite teacher, the secret hangout spot only a few good friends knew about on campus, or those few seconds of nervousness that come when you’re about to find out what your grade is. Need a few examples? The MIT Alumni Association Facebook Page uses content to bring back old memories. MIT Alumni Association Facebook Page The caption reads, “The semester is winding down, but scratch work is still everywhere. Name the course.” This type of post works because it places the alumni right back in the classroom chairs and asks them to engage by naming the course. Another great content idea is to highlight the accomplishments of other former students. Alumni love to see their peers go on to do great things. Here's an example near and dear to my own heart. My own alma mater, Georgia State, recently recognized me and my business partners in an article entitled “Panthers Pump “Lyfe” Into Marketing Firm” that highlighted us for starting a successful social media agency. This form of content drives website clicks from Facebook and reminds alumni that their alma mater is one that continues to mold students for success. Social Media Agency Unfortunately, Georgia State University does not have an official Alumni Facebook page, but definitely should. Georgia State University and other Universities who lack an official alumni page are missing out on a huge opportunity to focus their social media efforts towards Alumni and only Alumni - which will provide much better results. Remember, Facebook post with photos receive 53% more likes than post that only contain text. Hint – Use photos or video as often you can to ensure higher engagement.

3. The Backbone: Donation Calls-to-Action

Most alumni Facebook pages do a great job engaging and creating a community of alumni that have an emotional connection with the school and the Facebook page itself. This level of engagement already creates an environment where people are more willing to give to their alma mater. Where alumni pages can often lack is in the delivery of the ask itself. Donations, like bones, act as a structural framework for any alumni initiative. It might sound a tad bit crazy, but ask and you just might receive. Here’s an example: The Columbia Alumni Association’s Facebook page took advantage of Giving Tuesday to ask for monetary support. Columbia Alumni Association’s Giving Tuesday Need some extra ideas on how to ask? Try some of these:
  1. A class-to-class contest - which class can give the biggest donation
  2. Take advantage of significant dates (as shown above)
  3. Donations as a form of celebration
As a disclaimer, solicitations for donations should make up significantly less than 25% of your posts – you want to keep alumni engaged by posting content they expect to see.

Can you think of any other parts of an alumni Facebook page that can be optimized for alumni giving? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

  [avatar user="keransmith" size="thumbnail" align="left" link="file" target="_blank" /] Keran Smith is the Co-Founder/CMO of a social media agency, LYFE Marketing. He and his team have helped over 200 businesses increase awareness and sales with social media marketing and advertising.   alumni-engagement-post-cta