By now, school marketers are well aware social media is a great way to connect with families. Most schools have an engaging Facebook Page, know how to engage with families on Instagram and are doing a great job of using Twitter and Pinterest to increase brand awareness for your school.
Despite all your efforts, you may be noticing that it’s getting harder to grow your social media presence and gain inquiries from your social media networks. There are over 2.5 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 1 billion on Instagram, 330 million on Twitter, 660 million on LinkedIn and 300 million on Pinterest. (Sprout Social, 2020). What’s more, 93 percent of businesses are using at least one social media account, making it more challenging than ever to get seen.
In reality, social media growth requires time and effort, not to mention ongoing execution, monitoring and strategic adjustment based on data. However, there are a few tricks you can use to boost your social media presence. In this post, I’ll share ten creative ways to grow your social media following and funnel them to your website or an inquiry landing page where you can collect their information and follow up with them.
1. Take advantage of seasonal content
Don’t forget to take advantage of major holidays as well as educational-related themed days like “National Library Shelfie Day”. You even can have fun with goofy observances like “National Bobblehead Day”, “National Squirrel Appreciation Day” or “National Kazoo Day”. Need inspiration? Check out the online National Day Calendar. These types of posts allow you to show the fun side of your school as well as inviting families to join in the celebration and engage with your posts.
2. Get creative with your social media posts
One of the hardest part of managing your company’s social media campaigns is coming up with fresh social media marketing ideas. Your audience expects your school to publish quality content, but it can be challenging to come up with new and engaging social media content on a regular basis.
The place to start is with an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helps you think about your social media publishing schedule from a big-picture perspective. It also helps you plan ahead and stay ahead of the game when it comes to content creation.
Want new content topic ideas? Here are some resources you might want to consider:
- 16 Outstanding Ways to Increase Engagement on Facebook
- 25 Sure Fire Ways to Boost Twitter Engagement
- 12 Tested Ways to Surge Engagement on Instagram
- 304 Appealing Pinterest Board Topics for Schools
- 9 Time-Saving Tips for Creating Irresistible Content for Your School
- 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools
- How to Think About Blog Topics for Your School
- 36 Video Topics That Will Generate More Views and Engagement for Your School
- 27 Video Marketing Ideas for School Marketers
3. Boost Your Social Media with Keywords
While you might associate keywords with search engine optimization (SEO) and blogging, the truth is that including a few strategic keywords in your social media account profiles and posts can help improve your search engine results.
Add keywords to your profile name, bio, and description as well as the content you share. Your keywords should include your sports team name, location, and words and phrases related to your school. Use a tool like Google Keyword Planner, Google Suggest Keyword Tool and UberSuggest to help you with your keyword research.
Want more keyword research tips? Check out this resource: 6 Steps to Research Better Keywords for Your School Blog
4. End posts with a call-to-action
Regardless of the type of content you share, your social media posts should end with a call-to-action (CTA). Asking your readers to comment, like or re-share your content is a great way to boost the engagement rate on your social media accounts. These types of CTAs are best used for curated content or behind-the-scenes types of posts.
If you’re sharing a new blog post, announcing an event or new merchandise you’re selling on your site, your CTA should focus on getting your readers to click-through to your website. Include sharing buttons on your blog, landing page or sales page (for school merchandise) to prompt your readers to share on social media.
5. Stage an account takeover
A fun way to boost your social media is to let a trusted parent or student take over your social accounts for a day. This allows them to engage with your followers and makes parents and other students want to come back to see if they will be chosen the next time around. Additionally, you get a different perspective on what resonates with your fans based on the content your chosen social media managers share during their social media day.
Alternatively, see if you can recruit teachers, staff or an admin to manage your accounts for a day. They can use it in place of a meet-and-greet and allow more followers to get to know faculty, staff and the administration better.
6. Take advantage of geotagging
Several platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat allow you to tag your posts with your location. Doing so allows your profile to show up when people are searching for schools in your area. This makes it easier for potential parents or students to discover your school and learn more about what you have to offer.
You can also use this feature to promote sponsors, partners or other stakeholders to get them more exposure and fulfill more of the sponsorship or partnership agreement.
7. Share visual content
Visual content is very popular on social media. Share school photos or brief videos featuring funny or special moments is a good start, but you can also up your game by sharing cartoons, GIFs or memes.
One way to do this is to ask your fans how they’re feeling about an upcoming event or holiday and add a GIF to the post. Ask them to reply using a GIF.
Sharing memes and asking your followers to reply using a meme is a great way to build engagement. You can also ask them to caption a photo and turn it into a contest where the winner gets an item of your school merchandise.
8. Cross-promote on other profiles
Several social media platforms allow you to add more than one link to the profile. Use this to your advantage and add links to your other social media profiles. For example, Facebook makes it easy to add Instagram to your Business Page. Go to Settings > General > Instagram and then follow instructions to add your Instagram Page.
This makes it easier for followers to find your other social media accounts, helping to grow your social media networks across your entire social media presence.
9. Ask followers to tag a friend
Asking your followers to tag a friend is a great tactic to use, especially if you’re promoting an event on your social media profiles. This increases the chances that other families will discover your school as well as the chances your content will go viral.
Even though this tactic is most commonly associated with promotions, it can be used in regular posts, such as when you ask questions like “What do you think of last night’s Spring music event?” and include a photo? Or even “Will your student be participating in next week’s Spring Celebration event?” Then ask your followers to tag a friend when they respond. This allows you to build relationships and makes your school more relatable.
Want more ideas of questions to ask your followers? Check out the list in this post: 16 Outstanding Ways to Increase Engagement on Facebook
10. Embrace new technologies
Newer technologies like Facebook Messenger, Instagram Stories and Snapchat Geofilters are making great strides in marketing. In fact, many brands now use these technologies to connect with their followers and prospective families as well as sharing stories in innovative ways that allow them to stand out.
A. Facebook Messenger
For example, some brands are using Facebook Messenger to deliver newsletters instead of email. If you want more information on how this is done, here is a great Facebook Messenger chatbot article written by Hubspot’s Matthew Darby. Matthew uses ChatFuel which is free up to 100,000 conversations.
Help your followers find the most relevant content
Besides “pushing” content to your followers, you can also use Facebook Messenger to help your followers “pull” content to themselves. Many large brands like Whole Foods Market, Food Network and TechCrunch have Messenger chatbots that can help their followers find articles they want to read.
While setting up a Search chatbot is a little more complicated than creating a chatbot that simply delivers content, tools like ChatFuel, ManyChat, and Botsify have guides and templates to help you. If this strategy excites you, I would encourage you to have a go at these tools and see what you can do with them.
Engage participants during an event
Another way Hubspot uses Facebook Messenger is to send important information and reminders about events followers have signed up for or expressed interest in. Here’s one way to do this:
- Three or four days before the event, send out a reminder of the event is happening. Ask parents if they would like additional reminders. Include a link to add the event to their calendar.
- The day before the event, send a reminder to the parents who responded they wanted to opt-in with something pertinent about the event (like parking instructions).
- 3-4 hours before the event send out another reminder
- During the event, update them about the event and send a link to watch the event in real-time online
- At the end of the event, follow up to ask if they went and if they enjoyed the event.
Since Facebook Messenger is still a relatively new and novel marketing channel, it is a great way to get people’s attention and generate inquiries for your school. Consider running click-to-Messenger ads with location and demographic targeting to reach your target audience. When a person clicks on the add to learn more, they will be brought into a Messenger conversation with a chatbot that asks a series of questions. The person can opt to speak to a real enrollment representative as well.
Hubspot reports this strategy “saw a staggering 477% reduction in our cost per lead, while lead quality only slightly decreased”.
It might take a little time and testing to build a Facebook Messenger bot to collect inquiry information, but the effort is well worth it. Use Facebook ads plus Messenger as a powerful one-two punch.
Re-engage potential families
Facebook ads are a powerful way to engage people. You can use click-to-Messenger ads, which allows you to direct people from the Facebook News Feed to a Messenger conversation. The second type, Sponsored Messages, allows you to initiate a Messenger conversation with anyone why has messaged your Facebook page before.
This is a great way to re-engage potential customers, such as people who have asked you questions via Messenger before. For example, you can use a click-to-Messenger ad to offer them an opportunity to ask you any questions they have or you can use a sponsored message to send them relevant content. You can also use these tactics to re-engage potential parents that have visited your website but didn’t fill out an inquiry form.
Want more info on how to use Facebook Messenger to re-engage potential families? Here’s a great article by Molly Pittman of Digital Marketer on Facebook Messenger Ads: How to Use Them in Your Business.
There are other creative ways to use Facebook Messenger as a viable tool for school marketing and it’s still experiencing rapid growth.
B. Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a quick, engaging format primarily used on mobile devices. They are fun to create and consume, and the ephemeral format lowers the stakes and makes the whole experience much more casual. Users see it as authentic since the content disappears in 24 hours. Have fun with this format by including stickers, location geotags and hashtags (in the sticker menu).
You can also add links to your Instagram Story posts, driving users to your homepage, blog or wherever you choose.
Use Instagram Live to support your Stories. It’s an interactive and versatile format. Your followers will receive a notification when you go live. Once you’ve finished your live stream you can upload it to your Story for the next 24 hours.
Instagram Live is meant to be interactive, so don’t forget to acknowledge comments from your live audience and invite them to participate in some way.
C. Snapchat Geofilters
Snapchat is the most popular social media platform for teens ages 13-17. To get the most out of Snapchat you might want to check out Geofilters. A national Geofilter can be seen by 40 – 60 percent of the daily Snapchat audience.
A Geofilter is a location-based overlay you can find by swiping right on your Snapchat photo. It’s a particularly useful tool for promoting your school. If you create your own Geofilter, anyone on Snapchat in your chosen area can use that filter on their Snapchat image and videos, which means you are likely to attract a large audience without much effort at all.
A Geo filter can help you alert local snapchatters of your school’s nearby proximity. It can also spread brand awareness to users both in and outside your chosen location, as users can send a Geofilter to anyone regardless of their location.
Use a custom “business” Geofilter (as opposed to a personal one) to supplement your marketing strategy.
Here’s how to make a Snapchat Geofilter:
- Go to Snapchat’s “Create a Filter or Lens product page”
- Click “Create Filter”
- Upload your own image or create a design
- Choose your dates
- Select your location
- Specify whether your filter is personal or business, then check out
Canva provides pre-made Snapchat Geofilter templates if you need help with your design. Your graphic should be 1080 x 2340 and saved as a .PNG.
Want more information? Check out HubSpot’s “Guide to Snapchat Marketing”.
Boosting your social media presence is an excellent way to get new followers who may even enroll in your school. Use the tips in this post to grow your online following and funnel them back to your site.
Are there other creative tactics you’ve used to increase your social media presence? Please share your tips with the school marketing community in the comments below…