Leveraging alumni stories to boost your digital strategy
Every graduate program claims to have rigorous academics, highly regarded faculty and fantastic employment or advancement opportunities. But how do you prove that your institution is worth the investment and that students can anticipate the success they’re seeking? This is where the stories of the students who have benefited from your program and have gone on to do great things can help your digital strategy. Prospects want to see real people that they can relate to and stats that predict desirable future outcomes.
Your school’s brand identity is shaped by how you tell your story. Profiling alumni can be one of the most powerful forms of storytelling. Learn how you can use these stories and their content to boost your digital strategy.
How alumni stories shape your brand
When alumni have shaped the world around them, you want people to know about it. Successful alumni profiles can:
- Give credibility to your program
- Showcase the broad and impressive network prospects can connect with
- Allow prospects to see themselves as part of your program
- Give current students and alumni a sense of pride
- Continue alumni engagement, especially if you use a reward system when you feature their accomplishments
- Add authenticity and a unique perspective that prospects trust
- Highlight academic excellence with awards and achievements
There are many ways you can use this content to boost your digital strategy. In creating personal content, you can showcase diversity, highlight different programs, and give your marketing a unique look and feel. Take it a step further and make content interactive using podcasts, video or an audio interview tied with a slideshow.
Try these tips for a varied format that will appeal to different demographics:
- Switch up the format, i.e. use an interview Q+A style, record a video, create a podcast with a member of your recruiting team interacting with a former student.
- Use photos, but keep them within a consistent brand look and feel
- Use the alumni as brand ambassadors who agree to interact with students
Find ways to weave alumni stories into your marketing mix
To strengthen your digital presence, you can write about alumni in a blog. Optimize the blog with key search terms and phrases that would usually be hard to work into web content. Since blogs are more conversational, you may find that optimized phrases and questions like “Why is an MBA right for me?” or “My Executive MBA return on investment,” are easier to weave in. Be sure to include accomplishments and awards in social media as messages of congratulations which can not only increase engagement, but also give prospects something to aspire to. And as you’re developing content for your website, digital (and printed brochures) and email marketing, find ways to drive click-throughs with compelling tidbits from success stories.
Choose your alumni wisely
Using alumni at large, recognizable corporations with notable titles are great. People who have won awards, contributed to significant industry innovations or are in the news are always great choices. However, you do not have to have superstar or famous alumni to make an impact in your messaging. And in fact, having the right mix of alumni stories is important so that you don’t intimidate some of your prospects. Try profiling those who have inspiring stories, have switched careers, have made significant gains in leadership skills or who have contributed to their communities and the school.
Be sure to monitor the alumni you are using to represent your brand. Try to avoid the political landscape and negative news coverage. Keep them on your radar for when they switch jobs, and be aware of any abrupt exits from companies that could signal issues. Remember the goal is to highlight a desirable path and showcase alumni that are in alignment with your values as an institution.
As you are looking for ways to develop and utilize alumni stories to strengthen your school’s higher education brand, communication and digital advertising, GPRS can help.