If we think of regional alumni outreach as a recipe, what are the key ingredients?
✓ Strong volunteers and leadership
✓ Dedicated staff
✓ Relevant programming and events
✓ Open communication
✓ Effective use of alumni data
Another ingredient that is often overlooked is web presence.
When your alumni visit their local club or chapter’s website, what do they see?
Are the links active? Is the information up to date? How compelling is the landing page?
Can they even find the club website?
In our last post, we interviewed Mike Sullivan, senior director of alumni programs at the Notre Dame Alumni Association. After that conversation, we wondered: How does Notre Dame transfer its successful alumni engagement strategies to its regional alumni clubs?
Today, we’re going in-depth! In this post, we break down the different aspects of Notre Dame’s Chicago Club’s web presence, including its use of social media, and explain how you too can get the most out of your regional clubs’ websites.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an advanced web designer to execute these simple changes and make a direct impact.
Step 1: Intuitive Architecture
We’ve found that strong club websites have an architecture that is logical, intentional, and aesthetically pleasing. Alumni can navigate these websites intuitively.
Scrollability, discrete but obvious menus, and intentional organization are all important parts of the architecture.
For example, the Notre Dame Chicago Club website is organized by and built around a prominent but unobtrusive menu bar (with dropdown options under each section). The bar appears at the top of the landing page:
Alumni want to see a lot of valuable content on their club website, but they don’t want to be overwhelmed by too many options.
These websites can offer ample, visible, and varied ways to connect.
At the top of the Notre Dame Chicago Club website is a login area for members. This feature can subconsciously hint that there are special “members-only” benefits, which can further encourage alumni to sign up.
Step 2: Active and Relevant Content
Sometimes you come across a really flashy and well-designed website, but it just doesn’t seem to have the stuffing to match. Club websites are strongest when they are driven by robust and relevant content.
For example, an up-to-date calendar with programming and events that tap into a variety of interests an topics: academic, professional development, service, social, cultural, sports-related, etc.
Alumni have different interests and affinities, and will want to see a diverse menu of options. For instance, on Notre Dame’s Chicago Club website, the second option under the “Get Involved” tab is “Young Alumni.” This page promotes “Sweet Home Chicago Orientation,” a roommate search, and a way to connect with the Young Alumni Committee. This expresses Notre Dame’s desire to reach out to young alumni.
Step 3: Built-in Branding
Your university is your brand. Its mission, strategic goals, and culture can drive the design of the club websites. For example, Notre Dame’s Chicago Club website is designed in a color palette (blue, gold, and gray) that reflects the university.
In addition, alumni clubs or chapters can have their own logos and mission statements that can be featured on their websites!
Step 4: Social Media
Social media is an easy (and free!) way to send messages and to market to your alumni.
Actively managed social media that features a variety of content and posts will be the most effective. For Facebook and Twitter, we’ve found a good rule of thumb is to post every three to four days.
Don’t forget LinkedIn, which offers tremendous potential for alumni outreach!
We also recommend the use of multimedia content that features relevant images and videos.
You can also use social media to advance your branding by including a profile background or banner that is an image of the university, the city, or the logo, or that advertises a recent campaign or initiative. For example, note what the Notre Dame Chicago Club does here to promote the university’s “Force for Good” initiative:
Step 5: Sustainability (Keep It Going!)
This step might be the most challenging, but it is also the most important. Once you’ve built an awesome, robust club website, how do you keep it going? Who will update it?
Having a dedicated staff and system to manage your web presence is essential.
Did you know that ALUMinate can help you achieve all of this?
1) Play on nostalgia, especially on social media! (For example, posts that highlight the history of the university or show the campus as it once was.)
2) Turn regional leadership or volunteers into social media ambassadors!
3) Create meaningful community partnerships and sponsorships that you can feature on the website.
4) Aim for a blend of sports, nostalgia, human interest, professional development, and academic posts.
5) Use social media as a data-gathering opportunity by asking questions or doing a quick survey.
6) As we’ve seen, Notre Dame’s Chicago Club has a strong website and relevant content, but it could use an update. Create websites that are contemporary in style and mobile-friendly.
*All screenshots taken from: http://ndchicago.org