Creative ways for Alumni Relations teams to use Instagram, Youtube, and LinkedIn

By on July 19, 2017

As Alumni Relations teams look for the most effective ways to reach young alumni, social networks seem to be a good starting point for engagement. Facebook and Twitter may be the most popular choices when creating a social media presence, but there are also many more options to consider, especially when targeting a younger audience.

Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn are three very different social platforms, but they are all popular among recent graduates, creating an incentive for Alumni Relations teams to try them out.

So what are the best ways to use each one of them? This post looks at creative examples of ways to take advantage of them, and how they can be used to help Alumni Relations build an engaged network of alumni.


Instagram is seeing increasing usage among higher education institutions, rising from 54% in 2015 to 65% in 2016. Its growing audience makes it all the more important that Alumni Relations teams find ways to realise its potential, using it as a creative platform to share the institution’s news or promote campaigns.

As a primarily visual platform, it is particularly challenging to create content that speaks on its own. Images and videos have to grab the audience’s attention, so their quality is important, but captions can also contribute to the content’s success. Many institutions use captions to enhance an image’s message, from the narration of a story to the practical details of an event that may be coming up.

Hashtags are quite popular on Instagram, and that’s why many institutions use them creatively. They can be particularly useful when launching a campaign, and they can present an additional opportunity to reach the target audience.

Create videos to promote your campaign


#threelittlewords is here! We’ve asked leavers to tell us three words that represent their experience of Oxford. Now we’d like to hear yours! 2017 @oxford_uni leavers can enter our #threelittlewords prize draw for one of three £100 Amazon vouchers at All Oxford alumni and finalist students can post #threelittlewords in the comments on Instagram, to be in with a chance of winning a #dailyduck. Full competition rules and ts&cs coming up…. #oxforduniversity #studentlife #competition

A post shared by Oxford Alumni (@oxfordalumni) on

Oxford Alumni’s Instagram account has embracing creativity to build a community of alumni and keep them up-to-date about the forthcoming events and stories they may be interested in. They relied on video content to promote their #threelittlewords campaign, improving participation and helping alumni to feel involved in the campaign. This participation was also enhanced with giveaway gifts, which incentivised alumni to be part of the story.

Engage alumni through competitions


Meet our office bear! Goodie bag for whichever Alum comes up with best SOAS-y name for him! 🐻🎁 #Paddington #RuperBear #BearInTheBigBlueHouse #FozzieBear #BearGrylls #PoohBear #iphone7 #SOAS #soas100 #soasalumni #london #iphone7plus #competition

A post shared by SOAS alumni (@soasalumni) on

SOAS University’s Alumni Department is increasing participation and engagement on Instagram with a competition: they are asking from alumni to find a name for the office’s bear, with the winner receiving a goodie bag. The use of an appealing photo helps alumni feel involved, leading to numerous comments.  

Create your own hashtags to promote your message


Get ready for a weekend of reconnecting with your #Rutgers friends and family. #RAlumniWeekend starts next Friday – spread the word! #RutgersAlumni #ScarletForever

A post shared by Rutgers Alumni (@rutgers_alumni) on

Rutgers Alumni is creating an engaged community through a series of posts that promote alumni events, reunions and anything they may find interesting. The caption encourages people to spread the word about their events, while the hashtags enhance the feelings of community.

Use longer captions to enhance your visual message


“Columbia will open a lot of doors but it is your job to keep them open. GPA, class rank mean nothing in the real world. A successful life is more about being in the right place at the right time. Be social, respect others’ opinions and seek to improve not only yourself but others around you. Live by the ‘golden rule’ and opportunities will flood your life. Once they do do not be afraid to take risks and choose to do what you WANT to do and what makes you happy. Enjoy going to work not coming home from work. The only downside is that life will pass so quickly before you know it you are a grandparent so never forget to smell the roses along the way.” -Columbia Grad Grams. 🦁👩‍🎓👨‍🎓 Read more advice from alumni for the Class of 2017 at (📷: @Columbia) #ColumbiaCommencement #GradGrams #ColumbiaAlumni

A post shared by Columbia Alumni Association (@columbiaalumni) on

Columbia University’s Alumni Association is hoping to bring together a community of 330,000 alumni, and is doing so through different types of posts, from events and fun photos to career tips. This post offers advice from alumni to recent graduates: it’s a great example of how longer captions can be more effective, especially when they include motivational content.

Encourage participation in a creative way


Hmm to stay in bed or go to class? This artistic Terp couldn’t choose. Double tap if you remember the days… #UMD

A post shared by Maryland Alumni Association (@maryland_alumni) on

Maryland Alumni was looking to be creative with this post, and they encouraged participation by tapping into nostalgic moments. This was a great combination of creative content and emotional appeal, which led to a good number of likes. The key to success is not just asking for your audience to like your content, but understanding them and offering a reason to do so.

Offer a preview through your account


Our next #UoMGraduation treasure hunt will begin shortly with these lovely goodies up for grabs – come and get em – location revealed sooooon….

A post shared by Manchester Alumni (@alumniuom) on

The University of Manchester’s Development and Alumni Relations Department used their Instagram account to announce its next #UoMGraduation treasure hunt. This is another creative way to engage the alumni community and develop a fun atmosphere and sense of community among them.

Expand creativity through multiple images

University of Glasgow on Instagram

The University of Glasgow’s Development and Alumni Office celebrated last Halloween in a particularly creative way. They decided to post six different images to create a larger one that certainly grabbed alumni’s attention. This is a popular trend on Instagram and it helps to create an even more appealing feed.


Youtube is the world’s second largest search engine, which means that it is an excellent way for Alumni Relations teams to narrate stories through video content. This can be much more engaging than text alone, provided that it’s interesting enough to be watched. It’s useful to keep in mind that younger people prefer bite-sized content, which creates the need for shorter videos that are appealing and authentic.

Youtube videos can include:

Involve alumni in campaigns through video content

Cambridge University involved alumni in their ‘Dear World… Yours, Cambridge’ campaign, asking them what Cambridge means to them as part of their attempt to measure the impact of the university. The video contributed to the campaign’s success, making alumni feel involved, while encouraging more people to support the campaign.

Create motivational videos to strengthen community spirit

TCU’s Alumni Association created a Youtube video named ‘FrogFocus: Share your spirit’ to encourage alumni to become involved in the university’s alumni community. The video is both visually appealing and motivating, making it easier for alumni to participate and share their own content.

Involve video content in the promotion of fundraising campaigns

SOAS Alumni Network uploaded a video on Youtube to support the SOAS Sanctuary Scholarship Appeal and the #EducationBeyondBorders campaign. The video offers more details about the campaign and motivated more alumni to support it in a most appealing way. The video ends with an appropriate call-to-action, encouraging students to visit their campaign’s site to support it.


While LinkedIn focuses on the professional side of users’ social usage, it can still be a useful platform for alumni engagement. As recent graduates start building their professional profile, LinkedIn serves as the ideal way for them to showcase their skills and network with other people. It’s therefore a relatively easy way to reach alumni, as a quick search can show the number of people who graduated from a particular university. This can be the first step towards a connection that can benefit both the university’s network, but also the alumni themselves.

Alumni Relations teams rely on LinkedIn to keep in touch with graduates, either through their Pages, or with the creation of LinkedIn groups. Groups help them to build a community of engaged graduates, contributing to the idea of feeling connected with the university. Many institutions create their own communities through Groups, as they can offer the right balance between professional development and engagement.

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 14.55.09

The University of Essex has created a LinkedIn group for alumni and friends, also inviting current students and staff to join. The goal is to form and highlight professional networking opportunities along with community engagement, strengthening the bond between the institution and alumni.

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 14.55.00

Kingston University’s Alumni Association has created a LinkedIn group that’s open to all alumni and staff, with the aim of encouraging networking, while also maintaining contact with the university. The group is managed by the Alumni Department, and members need a relationship with the university in order to be approved to join.

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 14.56.57

The University of Nottingham created a LinkedIn group to help alumni discover new professional and social networking opportunities. As with other similar LinkedIn groups, approval is required for every new member trying to join.

Further Reading

Tereza Litsa

Tereza Litsa

Content Manager at Hubbub
Tereza is managing Hubbub's content marketing efforts, handling the creation and the distribution of content, while focusing on adding value to the growing digital fundraising community.
Tereza Litsa

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