Your alumni organization engages a wide variety of people, all linked by one common experience. While no two alumni are the same, there are trends with each generation that can help you employ more strategic marketing in your outreach efforts. If you are looking to create targeted marketing that reaches alumni where they are, consider these engagement strategies by generation.
Baby Boomers (Class of 1964-1982)
Baby Boomers are the largest generation of living Americans. They likely comprise the bulk of your engaged alumni. They are loyal to the institutions that helped to shape them, and many are now retired. Thus, they tend to be eager to find new channels to direct their time and talents.
The best way to engage boomers is by directly asking them to help, such as asking them to perform a specific role or task. They may be eager to pass on their knowledge and make for great mentors. Boomers appreciate being recognized for their efforts, so “distinguished alumni” and other awards are useful motivators for engagement.
The best way to reach Boomers on social media is via Facebook. They are also open to direct phone calls and print publications.
Generation X (Class of 1983-1998)
Gen Xers are likely already involved in your school, albeit in a different way—as parents. They are plenty busy with their own careers and helping their own children. Gen Xers prefer finding ways to engage on their own time that fit their schedule, ideally from the comfort of their own homes.
Gen X is active on the major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. They prefer shorter engagements, like brief blogs and social posts, and will read email updates. They will explore content on their own time. They like seeing “throwback” posts from their school days. Gen Xers are also interested in how their alumni group can help them network or develop professionally.
Millennials (Class of 1999-2014)
Millennials are motivated by the desire to make a difference. They value organizations that make a positive impact, whether in the places they work or how they spend their leisure time. If there’s an issue in your community, Millennials want to feel they are helping solve problems.
The best way to reach Millennials is on mobile. Any marketing you do should also have a digital component that’s easy to access from a smartphone. They do not want to have to come to meetings or talk on the phone, but prefer working in online groups. No matter the forum, Millennials want to feel that their input is valued.
Members of this generation can be found on many of the same platforms as Gen Xers, plus Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook has become less popular among younger users. They enjoy content that will help them advance in their early careers and that shares stories about how people are making a difference.
Generation Z (Class of 2015-Present)
Your more recent graduates comprise Generation Z. While often lumped in with Millennials, Gen Z has a different outlook and mindset. They are focused on the future and willing to work hard now for it. Like Millennials, they value social impact, but also have a realist mindset. They are looking to parlay their interests into careers.
Gen Zers are very tech-literate and often have several screens open at once. Real-time communication is key, or you may miss them. They enjoy consuming information via images and creating their own content on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
To build a strong alumni network, it is important to reach alumni where they are. Taking a generational approach will help you attract more alumni at all ages. At the same time, it's worth noting that people are different, and you may be surprised to find that their age doesn't define them!