Building Alumni Relations Through Facebook
Connecting with alumni, seeing them return, and saying “Welcome home!” is a gift to me after teaching at NorthPointe for over 30 years. NorthPointe Christian Schools is 43 years old with 2,700 graduates, as well as many others who attended for part of their education. I connect with “my kids,” those I taught, and all NPC alumni. Embracing social media to stay up-to-date with NPC alumni has been priceless.
In addition to email, the applications I use regularly are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. My own Facebook (FB) account and a FB page created for NPC alumni have been the best way to find and stay in touch with our alumni. This format reaches each decade of graduates. Even young alumni are on FB, even if they don’t use it often. I message them and often get an immediate response! Of course, that means one by one–lots of time involved, but well worth it. It has been THE best way to ask for their contact info, as well as send out announcements and invitations.
Reading the posts on their FB walls, I am drawn to the intriguing things they are doing. It’s what we, as a school, want to know—how our alumni are doing in the world and in their walk with Christ. I sometimes ask for a short bio and I ask how I can pray for them, as well as permission to post their news. Nothing is posted without permission. These “asks” occur through private messages (where FB also allows attachments like our recent newsletter). Besides alumni news, photos, school events, and special announcements, it is a good place to post reunion information. If they “like” our page, posts show up on their news feeds.
Pictures spark memories! Posting photos or videos brings the most views, posts, and sharing. The ones I’ve posted are my own photos taken through the years plus current photos, but old yearbook photos would also work. Alumni post their own photos, too. Seeing them connecting with one another as they post and reply is a delight!
Our school has three Facebook pages: PreK-12 school info, sports, and alumni. Each page tells our story. All three pages are linked to the same Twitter account, so posts are automatically tweeted to an even broader audience. Linking to Instagram, we can tell the NorthPointe school story in pictures in real time.
A Facebook event page can also be created for something in particular—for instance, we have a group that likes to play basketball, and we have used a FB event page to invite and get RSVPs. Some of our graduating classes have set up their own virtual reunions through an event page (public or private) – posting family photos and telling stories for members of their class to see.
Perusing Facebook in the evenings has worked best for me. Being the administrator of a Facebook page means that I see how many people were reached with each post, helping me know what information was shared the furthest. I have used pointers from others online to teach me the types of posts that have the most success, like when, what, and length of posts. Social media has made finding and staying in touch successful and enjoyable.
To connect with Pam Lasher about how she utilizes social media at NorthPointe Christian School, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.