Today’s higher education marketing strategies are more advanced than ever by engaging prospective students, current students, and alumni. Higher education marketing is not only essential to encourage enrollment and retention, but it’s also crucial to keep your loyal alumni in the loop. Alumni hold the keys to donations, recruiting opportunities, and mentorship — and are the voice of word-of-mouth marketing.

Universities know that social media is vital to reach students and prospective students efficiently; however, most universities and colleges struggle to truly understand and reach their target audience. With social listening, today’s leading universities are listening to what alumni are talking about, turning them into advocates, and uncovering donation opportunities.

Each university is unique and engages with alumni in their own way. I chose to use the Pace University team as an example since I’m a Pace University Alumni and Lubin Alumni Association Board Member. I’m fascinated by their dedication to keep us alumni in the loop about what’s going on with events, opportunities, and around campus. I’m also impressed by the thought and quality put into their fundraising efforts. To find out how the Pace University Alumni team uses marketing to keep their alumni connected with Pace University, I turned to Gary Laermer, the Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations at Pace University.

Q. Why is it crucial for universities to engage with alumni on social media?

A. Social media engages alumni in a timely and personal way. It involves them in key happenings and updates, keeps them connected to the University, and strengthens pride for their alma mater.

Q. What are some common higher education marketing strategies used by Pace University’s crowdfunding team?

A. Crowdfunding is driven by peer-to-peer fundraising, and at Pace, project team members have a detailed plan on how they will tap into their networks to share the fundraising campaign both through direct communications and on social. Putting together a contact list before launch is important so that teams can have a realistic look at how many individuals they can reach and how our staff in Development & Alumni Relations can help fill the gaps. You must be sensitive to the best way to engage your fundraising contacts. For some, it is on social media platforms, but for others, it’s written. Additionally, we always emphasize using pictures or personal videos to share alongside any links to their crowdfunding page, to make a personal connection with their audience.

Q. What are essential tips to keep in mind when reaching out to alumni on social media about fundraising goals?

A. Alumni are an invaluable resource to the University and our greatest ambassadors. For fundraising initiatives like Giving Tuesday, we engage students, alumni and friends to volunteer as “social media ambassadors,” by spreading the message on their social media channels, changing their profile pictures, etc. This broadens our reach and supports authentic and personal messages which are particularly relevant on social media platforms.

Social listening can be used in many ways to advance your higher education marketing strategies, including identifying target audiences, building relationships, and getting alerts in real-time about the keywords you care about. Learn more about social media in higher education and the Synthesio Social Listening Platform.