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virtual events

4 Ways To Invite Alumni To Your Virtual College Class Reunion [via Social hour]

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.

Email Newsletter

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

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 once you’re ready to get started, see how Social hour can help you make it an event to remember.

Categories
virtual events

How To Form A Successful College Class Reunion Planning Committee [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

Are you excited to reconnect with your alma mater and its alumni for an upcoming college class reunion? 

Many colleges and universities are now hosting reunion celebrations online, which means friends and classmates can connect easier than before—providing an unrivaled opportunity to strengthen your alumni network and bolster their relationship with your university. However, while many of the same traditional reunion activities can occur during a virtual reunion, there are a few virtual reunion planning differences to address.

If you’re a part of your university’s online reunion planning committee or just getting started organizing that committee, let’s explore how to structure your virtual college reunion planning team for success. We’ll explain the ideal college reunion planning committee structure, roles and responsibilities for each member, and an ideal timeline to plan your event with ease. 

Partner With Your Alumni Association

Before making any plans for your upcoming college class reunion, contact your university’s alumni association to check if there is already a planning committee in place that you can join. 

Your alumni association should also have resources and guides to help streamline your planning. Work with them to understand any available funds to support the event, attendance of past reunions, ways to fundraise for a class reunion, an ideal timeline for planning your college class reunion, and any other historical information that can inform your planning. 

Even if your alumni association already has a team ready to plan and support the reunion, there is almost always a need for more volunteers to help with the planning. It’s a lot to get done, and it never hurts to have more hands-on-deck to help plan and coordinate events during the reunion. 

Key College Reunion Planning Committee Roles

There are a few central positions you will want to appoint on your virtual college reunion planning committee. These individuals will then partner with a group of volunteers to conduct the day-to-day planning activities for the reunion.

The size of your committee will depend on how many alumni you anticipate will attend your event. Unfortunately, there is no definite way to answer how many people should be on a college reunion planning committee. Still, it is best to have at least 20 people ready to help throughout the planning process.

These are the essential reunion committee positions and associated responsibilities:

Reunion Chair 

The reunion chair oversees all reunion planning and acts as the main point of contact for the alumni association and other planning committee members. This role is responsible for coordinating committee meetings, making all final approvals, and overseeing the planning timeline.

Alumni Support Chair

Your prospective attendees will have a range of questions leading up to and during your event. Appoint one person to oversee and coordinate alumni support services. This person will act as a traffic controller and partner closely with the communications/marketing team to route requests to the finance, technology, or program teams as needed.

Communications/Marketing Chair

The communications or marketing lead oversees a team to coordinate all alumni outreach before and after the event. In addition, this team partners closely with the alumni association to:

  • Source alumni contact information 
  • Create and distribute invitations or save-the-date cards, as well as ongoing event communications through phone, email, or other channels
  • Manage any reunion-related social media channels or online communities. Build information hubs for reunion attendees, including an event website

Finance Chair

This individual is responsible for creating and monitoring the budget for your class reunion. At the end of the reunion, the finance chair will report on all expenses and income, as well as any leftover funds. All other committee chairs must gain purchase approvals from the finance chair, and all volunteers are responsible for helping to meet the finance chair’s fundraising goals.

Giving Chair

A core goal of many college reunions is to help raise funds for the university and garner ongoing support for the university’s mission. Appoint a member of your committee to advance this goal. They will partner with the alumni association to determine the best approach to encourage donations to the university. They will also coordinate all follow-up and thank yous for donors. 

Program Chair

Appoint a person who will oversee the creation and management of your class reunion agenda. This individual will not be solely responsible for organizing the series of activities, but they will be the one to finalize all agenda elements ahead of the reunion. 

Technology Chair

The main difference between a virtual and in-person college class reunion is the technical requirements for hosting each. With a virtual college reunion, it’s essential to designate a tech-savvy individual who can partner with the finance chair to find an event platform that will meet your alumni’s needs. In addition, the technology committee should partner with the communications committee to create FAQs and how-to documents to help alumni navigate the tech elements of your reunion. 

An Ideal Online College Class Reunion Planning Timeline

Your team should start planning your reunion at least one year in advance. The first step is to identify the right people to serve as the committee chairs we described above. Then, meet at least once a month, or more as needed, as an entire planning committee to oversee the next steps and encourage each chair to host separate meetings to coordinate their team’s activities. 

Ideally, follow this timeline when planning a virtual reunion:

12 months before event: 

  • Identify all committee chairs and align on responsibilities.
  • Partner with your alumni association to source contact information for all prospective attendees. 
  • Conduct a pre-reunion survey to understand what your attendees want out of your event. This survey can also invite alumni to volunteer to help your planning committee. Field this survey for at least one month, and then use it to inform your next steps.

11 months before event: 

  • Set a general budget for the reunion based on your anticipated attendee count, which you will gauge in your pre-reunion survey. 
  • Divide existing volunteers into appropriate committees.
  • Begin planning your agenda elements and inviting speakers.
  • If there is an in-person component of your reunion, begin sourcing group hotel rates or other travel logistics.
  • Confirm reunion date.

Ten months before event: 

  • Begin exploring event technology vendors.
  • Finalize fundraising plan.
  • Send initial save-the-date postcards or emails.
  • Publish reunion website to serve as a hub for prospective attendees.

Six months before event: 

  • Open registration for alumni. 
  • Coordinate a bi-weekly communications cadence to remind alumni of the reunion and promote your registration. Include social media posts, emails, and other communications channels to reach as many alumni as possible.
  • Post a preliminary reunion agenda to drum up excitement.

Four months before event:

  • Start collecting any memorabilia for the reunion, including photos for the slideshow.
  • Plan and purchase alumni gifts or swag bag items.

One month before the event:

  • Release full reunion agenda.
  • Research and develop remembrance ceremony materials. 
  • Finalize all planning elements.
  • Receive any final presentation or other agenda item files for your reunion. 

One month after the event: 

  • Share a photo slideshow, talk recordings, and other relevant files with attendees.
  • Debrief as a planning committee on post-reunion statistics, including how many people attended and how much money was raised for the university. 
  • Draft a document that collects the lessons learned and outcomes from the reunion to act as a resource for the next reunion’s planning committee.
  • Send all donors a thank-you card.

Sustain Your College Class Community Between Reunions

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hosting a virtual college reunion, and we encourage you to structure your planning committee and timeline in a way that can best support any range of fun activities or ideas that your team has in mind. 

Once your reunion is finished and everyone has received their thank-you notes and said their goodbyes, it can be easy to slip back into your “normal” life for another five years until your next reunion. If possible, have a subset of your reunion planning team keep in touch to plan additional events between your reunions to keep the excitement high. 
Learn more about how Social hour can help you host a memorable virtual alumni event.

Categories
virtual events

How To Plan A Virtual College Class Reunion Event Alumni Will Love [via Frameable]

This post originally appeared on the Frameable blog.

Thanks to the rise in virtual events, college reunions can reconnect countless more passionate alumni and faculty from across the globe. 

Understandably, it may sound tricky to adapt a college reunion for a virtual environment. We’re here to help. Whether you’re planning an all-virtual college reunion or a hybrid mix with in-person and online elements, here’s what to include in your event plans and ideas for making the most of hosting it through a virtual platform.

Use Alumni Surveys To Design Your Best Virtual Class Reunion

Lead your event design by addressing alumni needs and hopes for the event. Your reunion setup will, in part, depend on what anniversary you are celebrating. Generally, a 25th reunion marks a significant shift because attendees are ready to re-explore memories and discuss different topics than current work and life successes.

The most effective way to understand what your alumni want is to directly ask them through a mix of surveys, small group conversations, or 1:1 chats starting as far as seven months before your anticipated reunion date.

Some core questions to ask include:

  • Are you interested in an in-person, hybrid, or all-virtual reunion? [rank your options]
  • What do you hope to gain by attending the reunion?
  • Do you have any specific requests for the event?
  • What is the ideal length of a reunion for you?
    • Half-day
    • Full day
    • Two days
    • Three days
  • Which of the following activity types are you most interested in during a virtual reunion?:
    • Speeches and presentations from staff or faculty
    • Lectures and presentations from alumni
    • Casual open-room networking
    • Coordinated group activities through video
  • Are you interested in helping support the reunion in any of the following ways?
    • I would like to be on the reunion planning committee
    • I would like to speak at the reunion
    • I would like to help during the reunion 
    • I would like to donate items or goods for use during the reunion

Use multiple-choice questions to understand your group’s general needs. Open response options will provide more thorough insight but take longer to review.

What Is the Best Virtual Reunion Platform?

With your survey responses analyzed, it’s time to find a platform that can meet these expectations.

There are a lot of virtual events platforms, but many are built with bare-minimum functions or restrictions that treat you like a child. These platforms will be difficult to tailor for your reunion, and your attendees may skip the event altogether if the interface is too confusing or lackluster. 

At a minimum, consider these five essential areas for your virtual reunion platform:

  • Cost based on attendees and time limit: Ask how much the platform costs based on your anticipated attendee count and the necessary elements—breakout rooms, mainstage speaker, during-event announcements—you need for a complete experience.
  • Networking capabilities: How can attendees connect with each other? What level of customization is available for attendee networking rooms?
  • Support for live-streamed or pre-recorded video: What type of content does the platform support?
  • Live support: Does the vendor provide technical support in case something goes wrong during your event?
  • Security: There is always a risk that an alumnus may attend your event with an ulterior motive, or your reunion could be the target of Zoom bombing. Review any security features of each vendor and assess what level of risk your team is comfortable with. 

These are just the top-level questions to ask. We’ve created this 13-question checklist to help you find an ideal virtual college reunion platform. 

Virtual College Reunion Example Schedule and Activities

With a platform and date set, you can now create your event agenda

Start with the essentials. What are the major, must-have elements during your reunion? Generally, college reunions involve these activities:

  • Speeches or panel discussions from college leadership, including the president, vice president, dean, or class leadership. 
  • Remarks from current students. 
  • Alumni-spotlight conversations. These can be a panel conversation, “fireside chat,” or 1:1 or small group presentations for alumni.
  • Interest-based activities or group discussions. 
  • Remembrance ceremony. 

With your core items in place, blend in these other fun reunion activities that work incredibly well for a virtual college reunion:

  • Fun Run
  • Campus tour
  • Small group breakout rooms
  • Happy hour or wine and paint

It’s a New Age of College Reunions

This blog post provides just a glimpse at what you can accomplish during a virtual college reunion. Survey your alumni and create a schedule that is hyper-focused on their needs. You’re then more likely to host a successful event that rebuilds connections and helps your university continue to prosper.

You will likely find that your event technology is the biggest hurdle in your planning process. It’s critical to find an option that will allow you to build the experience you need, plus the benefits of security and an intuitive interface.

We’ve built Socialhour to help accelerate your event design and allow you to focus on what really matters—rekindling relationships that will last a lifetime. Contact us for a virtual reunion consultation: https://events.socialhour.com/contact 

Categories
virtual events

How To Plan A Virtual College Class Reunion Event Alumni Will Love

Thanks to the rise in virtual events, college reunions can reconnect countless more passionate alumni and faculty from across the globe. 

Understandably, it may sound tricky to adapt a college reunion for a virtual environment. We’re here to help. Whether you’re planning an all-virtual college reunion or a hybrid mix with in-person and online elements, here’s what to include in your event plans and ideas for making the most of hosting it through a virtual platform.

Use Alumni Surveys To Design Your Best Virtual Class Reunion

Lead your event design by addressing alumni needs and hopes for the event. Your reunion setup will, in part, depend on what anniversary you are celebrating. Generally, a 25th reunion marks a significant shift because attendees are ready to re-explore memories and discuss different topics than current work and life successes.

The most effective way to understand what your alumni want is to directly ask them through a mix of surveys, small group conversations, or 1:1 chats starting as far as seven months before your anticipated reunion date.

Some core questions to ask include:

  • Are you interested in an in-person, hybrid, or all-virtual reunion? [rank your options]
  • What do you hope to gain by attending the reunion?
  • Do you have any specific requests for the event?
  • What is the ideal length of a reunion for you?
    • Half-day
    • Full day
    • Two days
    • Three days
  • Which of the following activity types are you most interested in during a virtual reunion?:
    • Speeches and presentations from staff or faculty
    • Lectures and presentations from alumni
    • Casual open-room networking
    • Coordinated group activities through video
  • Are you interested in helping support the reunion in any of the following ways?
    • I would like to be on the reunion planning committee
    • I would like to speak at the reunion
    • I would like to help during the reunion 
    • I would like to donate items or goods for use during the reunion

Use multiple-choice questions to understand your group’s general needs. Open response options will provide more thorough insight but take longer to review.

What Is the Best Virtual Reunion Platform?

With your survey responses analyzed, it’s time to find a platform that can meet these expectations.

There are a lot of virtual events platforms, but many are built with bare-minimum functions or restrictions that treat you like a child. These platforms will be difficult to tailor for your reunion, and your attendees may skip the event altogether if the interface is too confusing or lackluster. 

At a minimum, consider these five essential areas for your virtual reunion platform:

  • Cost based on attendees and time limit: Ask how much the platform costs based on your anticipated attendee count and the necessary elements—breakout rooms, mainstage speaker, during-event announcements—you need for a complete experience.
  • Networking capabilities: How can attendees connect with each other? What level of customization is available for attendee networking rooms?
  • Support for live-streamed or pre-recorded video: What type of content does the platform support?
  • Live support: Does the vendor provide technical support in case something goes wrong during your event?
  • Security: There is always a risk that an alumnus may attend your event with an ulterior motive, or your reunion could be the target of Zoom bombing. Review any security features of each vendor and assess what level of risk your team is comfortable with. 

These are just the top-level questions to ask. We’ve created this 13-question checklist to help you find an ideal virtual college reunion platform. 

Virtual College Reunion Example Schedule and Activities

With a platform and date set, you can now create your event agenda

Start with the essentials. What are the major, must-have elements during your reunion? Generally, college reunions involve these activities:

  • Speeches or panel discussions from college leadership, including the president, vice president, dean, or class leadership. 
  • Remarks from current students. 
  • Alumni-spotlight conversations. These can be a panel conversation, “fireside chat,” or 1:1 or small group presentations for alumni.
  • Interest-based activities or group discussions. 
  • Remembrance ceremony. 

With your core items in place, blend in these other fun reunion activities that work incredibly well for a virtual college reunion:

  • Fun Run
  • Campus tour
  • Small group breakout rooms
  • Happy hour or wine and paint

It’s a New Age of College Reunions

This blog post provides just a glimpse at what you can accomplish during a virtual college reunion. Survey your alumni and create a schedule that is hyper-focused on their needs. You’re then more likely to host a successful event that rebuilds connections and helps your university continue to prosper.

You will likely find that your event technology is the biggest hurdle in your planning process. It’s critical to find an option that will allow you to build the experience you need, plus the benefits of security and an intuitive interface.

We’ve built Socialhour to help accelerate your event design and allow you to focus on what really matters—rekindling relationships that will last a lifetime. Contact us for a virtual reunion consultation: https://events.socialhour.com/contact