This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.
Have you been planning your virtual college class reunion? It can be easy for your reunion planning committee to get wrapped up in all the details—from setting goals for your event, creating an exciting schedule filled with activities and fun networking opportunities, and finding a platform to meet these needs.
But if you spend all your time planning those above areas, your event can still fall short if you neglect one key area: promotion.
It’s hard to forget that your reunion is just around the corner when you’re part of the planning committee. But your alumni need ample notice in a few different places to maximize their likelihood of attending and ensure they have a fulfilling reunion experience.
Let’s explore the best practices for promoting your upcoming virtual college class reunion.
Create A Virtual Class Reunion Hub
Before you start promoting your online college class reunion, create a central location for your alumni to access key information about the event. Then, regularly update this hub as new details emerge and the reunion gets closer.
If multiple communications hubs pop up as you plan and promote your event, your alumni will likely become confused about where to receive the most up-to-date information. Instead, maintain one core page—be it a dedicated website, an event page on an existing alumni site, private social media group, etc.—that links out to all the alumni resources for the reunion.
Your virtual class reunion hub should, at a minimum, include these details:
- Date, time, and location of the reunion
- How to register or RSVP for the reunion, including any fees
- A detailed schedule of events
- Networking opportunities
- Contact information for more details
- Asks/considerations for guests
- Answers to frequently asked questions, like the ideal attire
- Technology troubleshooting guides
4 Ways To Promote Your Virtual College Class Reunion
It’s not enough to send a single invite to your alumni and expect your registrations to skyrocket. Your reunion planning committee needs to send multiple invitations and reminders through various channels to maximize your RSVP count.
Partner with your alumni association to source contact details for your alumni. Use this initial list to start your outreach, but you will need to expand this list and your outreach strategy to get in front of more alumni.
Consider a combination of these four primary ways to reach your potential college class reunion attendees:
Digital or Physical Invitations
Share a digital or physical invitation to start promoting your virtual reunion. A direct invitation is a perfect way to announce the event, and these invitations should guide your alumni to your class reunion hub.
Ideally, start inviting alumni up to a year before your event. This leaves ample time for your invitations to navigate the mail system and eventually reach your invitee. However, digital invitations are a much more direct (and potentially trackable) way to invite your alumni.
Consider a combination of both print and digital invitations if your time and budget allow.
Create an email newsletter to keep your alumni up to date on the latest plans for your college reunion. Start light with the number of your messages, ideally sending just one update every one or two months when you are a year out from the event. Then, as the reunion gets closer, you can send weekly or more frequent emails as needed.
Use the email newsletter to drum up excitement for the reunion, encourage donations to the university, and ultimately drive more attendance.
A few ideas for what to include in a virtual college reunion email newsletter include:
- Fun photos from your graduating year, presented in a fun trivia style, such as, “can you guess what this is?”
- Spotlight notable alumni who will attend the reunion, ideally with a quote about why they are excited to attend
- Promote speakers or sessions at your reunion
- Discuss the networking opportunities available to your alumni at the reunion
Social media channels will widen your net of invitees. There are a few ways to maximize the effectiveness of your social media promotion:
- Reunion event page. Invite your former classmates to an event page on Facebook or LinkedIn. Ensure that a member of your communications and marketing committee monitors these event pages for questions or comments from your prospective attendees.
- Hashtag. Create a hashtag to accompany your reunion posts. This will help your alumni sort through information about the event and connect with others who are attending.
- Direct messages. Social media’s “social” aspect is vital for getting people excited about your online reunion experience. Have each member of your planning committee directly message any of their friends and former classmates, and encourage those friends to invite their friends.
- Paid posts. Promote your virtual college reunion with sponsored posts that will directly target members of your alumni network. Most social media channels offer cost-effective promotion that can greatly boost the reach of your event’s promotions.
Phone a Friend
This strategy will be necessary if your alumni network is not particularly active on social media channels. However, it will require a more significant time investment. Directly call alumni that you have not been able to reach by other means, and quickly let them know about the reunion and where they can get more information.
It’s important to respect your alumni’s time when calling. Leave a clear and concise voicemail if you cannot reach them live, and only call them up to three times leading up to your event, ideally one time a month.
Delight Your Alumni Network For Reunions to Come
As your team continues promoting your reunion, tap into your alumni network to refine and improve your reunion experience. Share short surveys and polls to gauge what your alumni hope to gain from the experience, and use this information to put the finishing touches on your planning.
By directly engaging your alumni ahead of your event, they’re more likely to be excited about your event—and possibly return for your next reunion.
But promotion is just one part of hosting a successful online college reunion. Learn more about how to plan a virtual college reunion event that your alumni will love, and see how MIT used Social hour to support its alumni reunion here. Once you’re ready to get started, see how Social hour can help you make it an event to remember.