Alumni motivations and social media for engagement
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] As budgets shrink and competition increases, universities strive to engage alumni in support of the institution. The use of social media to engage alumni is a key communication channel. The themes this researcher identified are supported by uses and gratifications theory as well as social capital theory as it relates to the online connection of alumni to the university. The researcher found recent graduates read and engage with posts with (a) strong visuals, (b) nostalgia, (c) an inside look into the organization, and (d) a relaxed or humorous tone. Mid-career alumni are also seeking (a) strong visuals and (b) nostalgia, as well as (c) information for professional growth. All participants agreed that they do not comment on posts they see on university social media accounts primarily because they do not want to get into the fray of what can spiral into negativity online. In seeking to understand what content or engagement motivates alumni to volunteer for, donate to, refer future students to attend, or advocate on behalf of the university, this researcher found recent graduates (a) are motivated by fun incentives, (b) respond best when there is a personal connection, and (c) do not relate to the big donor stories they see. Mid-career alumni (a) attend events that enhance their professional work, (b) refer future students based on advancements and success stories, and (c) make donations based on seeing innovation that is currently taking place.
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