One of the hardest aspects of measuring alumni engagement is that you’re trying to quantify feelings. As you share content on your website and social channels, you’re building relationships with alumni. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get concrete results from relationship building.

As a higher education marketer, we realize that you can’t justify your alumni relations programs if you don’t have some data to fall back on. That’s why we’re here to show you some of the ways that you can measure alumni engagement and prove the worth of your alumni relations programs.

Here are three ways that you can measure alumni engagement – the right way.

Capture Alumni Responding to Your Events

When determining how successful an event was, we tend to gravitate to the number of people who showed up. This isn’t a waste a of time, as an event with a big turnout means high engagement. However, there are a few other things to look at as well.

Capture how many people responded to the event. It’s not unusual for alumni to live out of state, be traveling for work or have other responsibilities going on that prevent them from attending your event. How many people received your invite and took the time to respond shows engagement, too.

For those that did respond, even if it was with a “no,” take the time to write them back. Let your alumni know that you missed them and appreciate them keeping in touch. This friendly dialogue may encourage them to come to your next event.

Track Alumni Who Show Interest in Volunteering but Haven’t Committed

Another way to measure alumni engagement is to assess volunteer participation. As with event attendance, pay attention to the number of people who responded but were unable to help out. Keep in mind that some people may be on the fence about helping out. If you see the same groups volunteering over and over, this could be an underlying issue.

The best way to fix this is by dividing your volunteers into three groups: those who say they’re interested, those who sign up and those who show up. Your last group is engaged, but those in the first two groups (showing interest and signing up) can be converted. You may need to nurture alumni in these groups, such as by offering incentives or asking them to commit to a specific time or job.

Keep Track of Who is Interacting with You on Social Media

When it comes to social media followers, quality trumps quantity. Always. You can have thousands of followers, but it won’t matter if none of them are engaged. On the other hand, you could have just a few hundred followers that are engaged. They may retweet your posts, comment on blogs and write about their memories. This is engagement.

To boost social media engagement, find ways to make connecting with you exciting. For example, let’s say that your campus is getting a new coffee shop. Post pictures of your coffee shop throughout the years and ask alumni to share their favorite memories. Create a hashtag to gain more exposure and organize the discussion. Offer a $25 gift card to the new coffee shop to one random commenter, or raffle off the vintage pictures.

Make Your Alumni Relations Programs Count

Any time you post content to social media, host an alumni event or reach out for volunteer participation, you’re working on building relationships with your alumni. While it’s difficult to get tangible results from relationship building, there are a few ways to measure engagement. By following our tips above, you can have a better understanding of your alumni relations programs.