The VPM Blog

Senior Surprise | Making the Grade with Late Career Alumni

Posted by Don Crow on Jun 17, 2013 5:06:31 AM

Tweet your questions or comments directly to author Don Crow, @DonCrow

Because, “What your communications and marketing staff don’t want you to know about Seniors” is too long.

Even since the movie Coccoon was released a lifetime ago Boomers seem to be fascinated with looking, feeling and acting younger. They did after all coin the phrase, “60 is the new 50” as if by saying it they would somehow cheat nature.

They are a formidable marketing powerhouse who don’t want to yield an inch to the Millenials.

But what is still stuck in the pre-youth movement is how Alumni relations teams across the country are communicating. Yes, they are blowing through budgets with printing, telemarketing, radio and TV spends like Mad Men was more than fictional drama.

The reality is, social works with seniors.


In recent surveys Verge Pipe Media has conducted on behalf of Schools and Colleges on preferred communications and marketing platforms, Seniors have consistently indicated they are on social platforms and don’t mind using them to keep in touch.

Challenge: walk into your next Communications and Marketing staff meeting and say, “Facebook: it’s not just for keeping up with the grandkids.” Then step back and watch your staff run past you on their way out the door laughing.

When they come back, here are a few facts from our aforementioned surveys:

  • 85% of late career alumni (graduated 26+ years ago) are on Facebook. That’s higher then you mid-career alumni and second only to recent grads
  • 60% of late career alumni are on Linkedin. That’s about 3 times the national average
  • 92% of them are “active” on email – they check at least one email account 5 times per week

For those naysayers in the group who argue with data, the news they’ll likely hear is:

  • 19% are on Twitter. That’s only 3 points higher than the national average
  • 18% use YouTube which is in the cellar compared to all other alumni groups

What about devices? Well, Seniors continue to surprise the, “let’s print even more Alumni magazines!” contingent:

  • They prefer iPads to all other tablets, and yes a good chunk of them (50%) own a tablet of some type
  • They own Blackberry smartphones at a higher rate than any other group and they also still own a landline / home phone

And yes, while they enjoy the once or twice per year postal copy of your magazine, they are increasingly joining the hyper-connected world to stay informed and to keep up with and reconnect with classmates. Email is their preferred method, followed by phone calls and then text messages according to our surveys.

Is it the death of your printed magazine? No, not at all – at least not with this group. But, they also said they would love to see a digital version of the magazine formatted for their iPad or other tablet at least monthly!

And guess what else? They increasingly see you – their alma mater – as being a trusted source for content about their degree fields, even if it is outside your own alumni network. Think about that for a moment. You have a group who would read your curated content on topics of interest to them, even if it meant there was zero alumni connection.

So let’s be clear here. Late career alumni still want to hear from you in more traditional ways, they just want to also have the more frequently updated versions on their digital devices too.

Your aging Boomer population sees you as a way to reinforce their youth movement by staying connected not only to their kids and grand-kids but classmates and campus news too. Plus, they earn “points” with their kids when they cut the landline cord and show off their digital version of your alumni magazine.

[starbox id="Don"]

Author: is Founder & CEO at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media
assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative
Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team
chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a
mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.

Topics: higher education, Alumni Relations

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