Social media can be a valuable asset for marketing and admissions to promote your private or independent school. A blog post by Metric Marketing.
Social Media Strategy for Schools
Social media can play a key role in supporting marketing and admissions for your private or independent school, when—and this is key—it’s guided by a focused, objectives-driven strategy. However, many schools dive into social media without a strategy or the means to measure success. As a result, they struggle to effectively meet marketing and admissions goals, and have difficulty proving ROI for their efforts.
It pays to approach social media in the same way you would any other marketing communications channel—which is to make sure your activity is driven by your business goals, adheres to your target customer’s journey, and keeps ROI front and center.
In this article, we explain how to build a solid foundation for social media marketing, we discuss some best practices for getting started, and we share a few tips to keep your content on-target.
Start with a strong foundation
This means identifying your objectives, understanding your audience, prioritizing your channels, and establishing measurable outcomes. Let’s look more closely at each of these building blocks.
1. Identify your objectives
Ask yourself (and any other relevant stakeholders): What do we want our social media to accomplish? Once you clearly define what your goals are, you’ll find it much easier to plan your social media tactics and messaging.
Here are a few example goals to consider:
Reach new audiences and right-fit families
Communicate with families and students throughout the year
Act as a community and information hub for remote learners
Recruit new staff
Share a strong sense of your school’s culture
Communicate what makes your school unique and different
Grow your email list
Boost event sign-ups
Encourage user-generated content
2. Understand your audience
The better you understand your audiences, the easier it will be for you to anticipate the answers they’re looking for. Customer journey mapping can help you facilitate this understanding as you plan to deliver the content they’ll be looking for throughout their search. A potential new family will be looking for different information in a different way compared to alumni, potential new staff, current families, or even a potential new student in the middle or upper grades.
3. Prioritize your channels
Once you know your goals and your audiences, you can prioritize your social channels and the content you’ll share according to what you’re trying to accomplish and what your audiences seek. Do you want to represent the culture, values and activities of your school with engaging photos of people and events? Instagram and TikTok should be high on your list. Do you want to share event sign-ups and school information to parents and students? Facebook will cover those bases. For every goal, there’s a channel (or two) that will be an especially good fit.
We’ll be sharing a new post soon that breaks down the advantages and strengths of popular social media platforms, with an emphasis on private and independent schools.
4. Establish measurable outcomes
The last step in laying your foundation for effective social media marketing is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) that are tied to each of your goals. That way, you’ll be able to track the effectiveness of your social media marketing and make adjustments to optimize your efforts.
View our four-part Summer School series for more information on how you can use measurement and analytics to improve your marketing.
Best practices for getting started with social media management
There are many best practices to consider when setting up and running social media marketing. We’ve already discussed a few—laying a strong foundation based on your objectives, your customer journey, prioritizing channels and establishing measurable goals—and there are others that you’ll want to explore as you get more deeply into social media campaigns, such as content calendars, landing pages and calls to action.
Above all, pay attention to quality over quantity and don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth advertising that you get with social media.
Quality Over Quantity
Now that you’ve learned how to lay a foundation for your social media, a word of advice about launching your strategy and engaging your audiences: don’t try to be everywhere at once, especially at first. Take things slow with the channels you choose and with your content.
Begin by prioritizing the channels you think will have the most value (ROI) for your school. Run with those for the first six months—or even the first year. Once you feel comfortable running those channels and measuring the success of your content, you’re happy with your ROI and you have processes and policies in place that everyone is comfortable with, then and only then should you start adding auxiliary channels.
The same goes for your content. Begin by identifying four or five categories of content to post. Examples might include school events, news updates (or blog, if you have one), student or faculty profiles, alumni news or events, student-generated content, and special events or projects. Start by choosing types of content you’ve had success with in the past and high-quality content that you’re confident you’ll have the time and resources to produce in the future on a regular basis. Once these are going well, you can start adding in new types of content. Test each new category for a month, or a quarter, before evaluating its success, and then post more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
A Word on Word of Mouth
Word of mouth in the digital age relies on content that’s easy to share, which makes social media one of your best opportunities for word-of-mouth advertising.
A “push” strategy means creating highly shareable content that your school publishes, such as contests, news, announcements and events. To measure the success of your strategy, check your analytics to see what kinds of content your audiences are most likely to share with their networks, then create more of that type of content.
A “pull” strategy is another technique where you gather photos, videos, and online reviews from your followers. By posting content that inspires engagement and feedback from your audiences, you can collect content from your audience that will function as credible, shareable, word-of-mouth testimonials–while having the added benefit of boosting your credibility through algorithms. Read more about the value of word-of-mouth for private schools.
Social media offers private and independent schools enormous marketing opportunities to connect with audiences online while increasing potential reach in ways you never imagined. With a growing variety of social media platforms available, you’ll find you can get very creative while having fun with your communications as you engage many new people in different environments.
The most effective advertising lands where prospects are looking, and private school parents and older students are all online. Parents now expect to find your private or independent school on social media. Take your school’s marketing to the next level by building your own foundation for strong and measurable social media marketing.
Read more about the benefits of working with an education marketing company.