How to use social media to boost your alumni network

Northeastern University leveraged alumni voices to elevate its Instagram presence; you can, too

We started doing the Instagram Takeover to showcase what life is like as a graduate of Northeastern University. Instagram Takeovers, which cultivate a stronger sense of community and connection through conversation, collaboration, and sharing ideas and stories, last for seven days—Monday to Sunday. During that time, we expect alumni to post as least one photo a day that gives our followers a look at their life. These photos do not need to be in the office: They can depict a city, hobbies, volunteer work … it’s up to them.

The idea for the Instagram Takeovers was sparked by a case study presentation made at the CASE Social Media and Community Conference in Chicago in 2016. On the last day, DePaul University shared how they would let students take over the university Instagram account for a week to share their experiences while studying abroad, working an internship, or just living on campus. As I walked out of the presentation, I started brainstorming ways to bring this behind-the-scenes concept to the alumni community. Internal support for the idea was so overwhelming that in May of 2016, I rebranded the @northeastern_alumni Instagram account to be solely alumni Instagram Takeovers. I haven’t personally posted a photo to our account in 660 days and counting.

Through this strategy, we are able to leverage passionate alumni to help us create valuable, personal content that we would not have otherwise been able to capture and share.

Here’s how we make it happen.

Step 1: Recruit wisely.
Alumni who facilitate Instagram Takeovers are carefully selected and vetted before given access to our account. Initially, we worked with alumni who were already connected to the Office of Alumni Relations as volunteers, previously featured speakers, or just friends of employees.

Over time, this pool started to grow organically. Now, we have several additional means of recruitment beyond direct outreach, including recommendations from alumni who previously facilitated takeovers as well as regular promotion of the opportunity in digital communications.

(Next page: How to do an Instagram Takeover on your campus)

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