How Do Metrics & Sentiment Figure Into Alumni Engagement Programs?

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 07th April 2022

Do you have a firm understanding of who your alumni are? Are you catering to their individual needs via your alumni engagement program, or are you sending the same information to everyone? 

There are two steps to answering these questions. One, start segmenting your alumni. Two, measure their engagement with and sentiment towards the program. 

These two steps are the keys to a successful alumni engagement program that fulfills each individual’s needs and drives your company goals.

How To Develop An Understanding Of Your Alumni Network

Alumni networks are filled with people who have their own dreams, goals, and interests. To that end, it rests on the company’s alumni engagement program to identify individual and group interests and provide members with content that resonates with them. As the saying goes, when you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.

Pearson, the British-owned education content and assessment company, hosts a global alumni network implemented on EA’s technology platform. They prioritize three alumni segments based on value for the alumni and the company.  

  • Former leaders who are still shaping the industry
  • Former rising stars who want to make a difference in the space
  • Retirees who have been committed to the company for years

Senior Manager of Strategic Communications and Operations, Duncan Roberts, told Forbes every decision they make on the alumni network is made with these three groups in mind. It focuses the program and increases efficiency. 

Track Alumni metrics

While the Pearson model works for them, every company should take their own unique approach to dig into their networks and better understand their alumni. 

Track Alumni Metrics

You might want to collect data on your network’s demographics, lifestyles, interests, preferred communication channels, expectations from alumni programs, participation willingness, and frequency of contact. 

Part and parcel to this is to segment your audience. A quick outline of how to do this is by:

  1. Geographic location. This will guide you in terms of local, regional, and global communications. 
  2. Industry. Where did the alumni go when he/she left your company? Knowing this allows you to segment them effectively, for example, to access recruitment, business development, or networking events.
  3. Career type. Create broad categories that sort your alumni in terms of sector, department, seniority, etc.
  4. Reasons for alumni enrolment. Find out why an individual decided to join your alumni program and what they expect from it. 
  5. VIPs. These are people who have worked for your company for a long time or excel at bringing in leads. 

With an alumni network spanning generations – from retirees and senior business executives to interns, each with unique values and aspirations – the heat is on your alumni engagement program to deliver a measurable, personalized experience.

If you don’t do it, you risk people becoming disengaged and no longer logging onto the platform. So, your online platforms and apps must be useful and allow individuals to get things done if they are to use them.

Measure Content Success

measure content success

Of the content you send out, what does your network engage with the most? 

Pay attention to what they like, share, or save. Nail down why they are coming there in the first place. Is it to read an interesting industry-related piece, find job opportunities, or pick up on offers of incentivized talent recommendations? 

It’s equally important to know how the reader got to any single piece of content. Are they coming to your platform via social media, or are they clicking through from email newsletters?

Real-time insights delivered via your platform dashboard help you understand the success of your alumni engagement program and the most relevant activities and content that are driving value. 

Funnel reporting, for instance, allows you to identify outlier opportunities. These drive engagement and enable alumni community managers to target specific habits and user segments. 

Conversion reporting shows real-time actions that align users directly to the business objectives. These could be recruiting, sharing content on social networks, or referring business opportunities. 

When you have these insights on hand, you can continue to hit the mark and lead a successful program.

Keep Tabs On Sentiment

Crunching raw data about your alumni engagement program is one thing; figuring out how users feel about it is quite another. That’s where sentiment analysis comes in – where you try to understand what someone feels and why they feel that way. 

With research showing that engaged alumni deliver a 10% increase in brand sentiment, it’s crucial to measure this ‘score’ to know how departed employees engage with your business and what they say about it.

Short, transparent and even open-ended surveys are a great way to measure sentiment. More so if they can be done anonymously. Be sure to ask questions relevant to the members (not the company) and complete the feedback loop by showing participants how the company will react to their praise or complaints.

To Gauge Success Of Your Alumni Engagement Program, Keep An Eye On ROI

A functional platform is guaranteed to provide a good ROI if used to its full potential. It can help you track metrics and sentiment around brand value, social mentions, content reach, and online interaction.

You should measure the ROI and value to the organization across core pillars that make sense for your objectives. They could be related to biz dev, recruitment, CSR initiatives, D&I, sales, and more. 

Combined with a well-crafted alumni strategy, it reflects the opportunities for an alumni engagement program to impact the bottom line in both revenue and savings. The most important point is to tie your platform to the bottom line. Someone has to validate your platform based on its value to the organization. 

Final Thoughts

Too many businesses focus on either metrics or sentiment as a measure of the success of their alumni engagement platform. The reality is that both have a part to play, and this requires data collection and a measured approach. 

The benefits are clear, and by having a metrics- and sentiment-driven knowledge of your alumni, businesses are set to actively see a rapid ROI and impact on their organization’s bottom line.

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