Tips for Reaching Older Alumni in a Digital Age

When building engagement with your alumni community, you want to create an all-ages approach that generates interest from a wide spectrum of graduating classes. With so much of our marketing happening digitally these days, it can be easy to forget about older alumni.

Older alumni are a crucial group to keep active in your organization. They hold a wealth of knowledge about your school or district. They are also more likely to be well-connected and well-respected community members with more time to give, making them a tremendous asset.

It’s tempting to fall for the narrative that seniors are not online, but doing so ignores a sizeable chunk of your audience. Baby Boomers have long been the largest living adult population, with its youngest members now at around age 55. Of the 50-65 age bracket, 70 percent are active online; 38% of people age 65 or older are online, and more than half of that group are on social media. 

If you want to engage more seniors in your alumni group, consider the tips below for your outreach efforts:

Speak their language

Any marketing messaging should be clear to a broad audience, but what’s clear to one age group may not be to another. You don’t need to alienate younger alumni by only using cultural references from the 1970s, but if you are trying to court an all-ages demographic, don’t rely on the hottest memes from TikTok either. 

Choose the right platforms

We noted above that many seniors are on social media, especially Facebook. If you’re trying to decide which channel(s) to use to engage with alumni, look to where most of your community is already spending their time. Additionally, more than 90 percent of people age 50 or older actively use email, making it a fantastic tool for engagement. Consider a multiplatform approach to reach as many demographics as possible.

Make it easy to contact your organization

If an older alumnus wants to get involved, but is not very tech savvy, how can he or she reach your group? Is there a phone number or address on your website? Is a contact person listed? While some people may be online, it doesn’t mean they are always comfortable communicating that way. 

Representatives should make themselves available to alumni at least via email, and offer to follow up by phone if it seems appropriate to do so. 

Learn what they want

If you are unsure about how older alumni want to connect with you, don’t make assumptions. Ask active older alumni or members of the demographic you hope to reach what kinds of programming they would enjoy and how they would like to hear about news and events. Take the extra step to find alumni who may be disengaged to learn what you can do to help reconnect. 

Don’t rely on digital alone

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to reach older alumni online, but if you want to truly be inclusive, you should still consider how you can reach people offline. If you really want to reach an older group, like for the 50-year reunion for the class of 1970, use a mix of online and offline marketing efforts. Mailing fliers and posting at community centers are still great ways to reach many members of your target audience.

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