Alumni Reunions and Digital Engagement: Myth vs. Fact

February 2023 — By BrightCrowd

Digital technology has been on the rise over the last two decades. The advancements in technology have given organizations and universities a stronger arsenal of tools to inspire alumni participation and engagement.

Thanks to the likes of social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), video conference servers (Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams), and online discussion boards (Reddit, Quora, and GitHub), individuals are constantly staying connected to the people and causes they care about. Despite its many advantages, university alumni relations departments have been slower adopters of technology, especially when it comes to events like alumni reunions. A consistent setback seems to be the belief that digital technology discourages or cannibalizes alumni participation at in-person events.

Distinguishing Myth From Fact in Digital Engagement

Given that virtual engagement may be a newer concept in alumni relations, there are some misconceptions surrounding it. Let’s dispel these common myths:

Myth #1: Offering Digital Experiences Decreases In-person Attendance

Fact: Virtual engagement activities actually complement in-person events.

Despite what some may believe, digital opportunities to promote alumni participation don’t cannibalize the traditional nature of these reunions. Just because you offer a digital piece, does not mean individuals will forgo in-person attendance. In fact, it may even increase it. During the pandemic, many schools discovered a cohort of alumni who will only engage virtually in these events.

Our BrightCrowd digital memory books help expand alumni reunion and other event reach as alumni who are unable to travel to their alma mater due to financial constraints, family obligations, physical limitations, or geographical distance can now actively engage and take part in the gathering. Additionally, these books can also encourage more in-person RSVP’s as classmates can flip through ahead of time to learn who else will be in attendance. While some attendees return to campus for nostalgia, many return for networking, and knowing who’s coming can encourage more alumni to also say “yes.”

Myth #2: Digital Platforms Are Costly

Fact: The expenses incurred are actually relatively minimal.

Over the past few years, the time and budgets required to host an impactful alumni reunion have continued to increase. The small investment universities make in a digital tool like BrightCrowd is just a fraction of the cost of an alumni reunion, especially given the tremendous returns in attendance and contact reports.

For less than the cost of a cocktail per person, alumni relations teams can launch a digital memory book in minutes. Not only will alumni enjoy their experience reconnecting with former classmates, but universities can get access to updated contact reports on a much greater scale. The meaningful qualitative data contained within the pages is simple to collect and download into alumni databases for effective segmentation and future outreach.

Myth # 3: The Sentimentality of Alumni Reunions Doesn’t Translate Digitally

Fact: Digital memory books drive meaningful connections.

The benefits of digital memory books go well beyond the hard cost savings. Your alumni want these options. In the last year alone, the alumni participation rates in BrightCrowd digital books has expanded by more than 25%.

With fully customizable questions, participants can share more personal information like their favorite memories on campus, their biggest milestones to date, and what they’re most looking forward to in the coming years – topics that may never come up over a quick hello at a happy hour.

And the connections don’t have to stop there. A BrightCrowd digital memory book can also live on as a keepsake that participants continue to return to time and time again to build meaningful connections after your reunion has passed.

Expand Alumni Participation in Camps

As the world continues to evolve, schools and universities should adapt and embrace new ways to maximize alumni participation in their on-campus efforts. Rather than fearing that digital engagement will negatively impact the success of alumni reunions, alumni relations professionals should embrace the new possibilities that come along with it.

Want to learn more about how top universities are leveraging BrightCrowd to improve and expand alumni participation and their reunions? Request a demo today!