Get Your Alumni Community to Listen: Experts Share Tips on Podcasting

Bringing Ideation and Podcast Production Expertise to Schools and Universities

For three years, internet users listening to podcasts via smartphone and mobile devices increased to 34% monthly. A study by Global Web Index shares that younger audiences, Gen Z and Millennials, spend almost an hour (58 minutes) tuning in to podcasts.

To respond to this growing need for podcasts, Alumni FM launched a partnership with Dog Ear Consultants to help schools and organizations create engaging alumni podcasts. Their collaboration means they provide support in designing, creating, and sustaining podcasts. This collaboration pairs Alumni FM’s experience in podcast production and Dog Ear’s editorial and ideation expertise. 

In this article, both teams share how institutions benefit from having an alumni podcast and some of the best practices from their combined experiences running Skydeck, OneHaas, and Eccles Business Buzz—award-winning university podcasts.


Listeners Are Seeing the Value in Podcasts

One of the main reasons podcasts are so popular is that they are well-suited to fast-paced lifestyles — listeners can tune in while commuting,  working out, or relaxing at home. As a result, institutions now have more creative opportunities to engage their communities. This engagement is more easily tracked than traditional print content as Spotify, Google, and other podcast streaming platforms provide behavioral insights that help institutions build a detailed view on the types of content their alumni prefer. Ultimately, a human voice conveys understanding and empathy that institutions, especially in light of the limited chance for face-to-face interaction, will need to demonstrate going forward.


The Benefits of Engaging Your Alumni Community Through Podcasts

Podcasts are equally effective in reaching the alumni community as social media and other digital platforms. Here are some of the reasons why:


You Drive the Narrative

Podcasts are part of your owned media, so you can choose what angle to take, who to interview, and what quotes are released. As opposed to earned media, it is usually the channel or publication that decides the story’s direction. 

 

Reach Them When They’re Ready to Listen

If you do it right and regularly, your podcast will always be available when your alumni are ready to hear it. Unlike social media, you need to create content that will grab their attention in an ocean of other posts. By pairing an interesting podcast story with the right listening experience, alumni will actively seek your content. This way the listening experience is not intrusive. 

 

Build trust & Credibility

A school’s alumni community reflects how it nurtures its students’ talents. By sharing your alumni stories, you will inspire your student body and drive a virtuous cycle of alumni giving and volunteering. 

Do you want your alumni podcast, but are not sure how to start or whether you’re taking the right steps? 

During an interview for The Atlantic, Paul Zak, Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics, explained how stories affect our behavior and physiology. 

“A good story’s a good story from the brain’s perspective, whether it’s audio or video or text.” -Paul Zak, Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University

In this sense, quality ideas, stories, and production play an essential part in capturing alumni’s attention and keeping them engaged. 


Best Practices for an Engaging Alumni Podcast

What do podcasts from universities like Harvard, the University of Utah, and the University of California Berkeley have in common? Their platform allows them to share how the university helped them, overcame challenges, and succeeded in their chosen careers or businesses. Alumni achievements are highlighted and celebrated.

Encourage Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a valuable marketing tool. Anecdotes and pictures from someone who studied with you during your time at university can evoke a wave of nostalgia. Arrange your interviews so that they coincide with the celebrations you have this month.


Use Polls and Drive User-Generated Content 

Have your student body nominate and recommend alumni to guest on your podcast. Use your social media as a platform to get the student body and alumni community to participate in planning your show’s calendar.

Humor, Music, and Interview Works

Millennials and Gen Zs are the largest segments of podcast listeners, and these are the formats they prefer:

  • 41% of 13-37-year-old say they prefer listening to comedy
  • 33% say music affects what they listen to
  • 31% say they love interviews


What Does It Mean for Your Institution

Podcasts are more than just announcements. Podcasts are a powerful tool to introduce relatable and personal storytelling. 


Start Your Podcast Journey

If you’re new to the whole idea of using podcasts in engaging your alumni community, consult with the Alumni FM and Dog Ear teams on creating content ideas and angles for your podcast. Learn from the teams behind these successful podcasts: Skydeck at Harvard, Eccles Business Buzz at University of Utah, and OneHaas at UC Berkeley.  


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Podcast listeners are some of the most enthusiastic audiences in the media market— successful podcasts have listeners who keep returning week after week and month