Your social media networks are a valuable way to attract prospective families to your school and an effective tool for improving student retention rates. You can share announcements, highlight special events, and build community related to shared values. Most importantly, social media is an excellent way to listen and respond to questions and concerns from parents.
As you publish content and engage with families on social media, you’ll paint a picture of what it’s like for students to be enrolled in your school. So social media, when used thoughtfully, can help you meet both your recruitment and retention goals.
Your families are certainly already on Facebook. Many are also on Instagram and maybe even Twitter. Some spend time on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat and TikTok. While you may not need a presence on every one of these platforms, you should be active on whatever networks your potential parents are spending time. The best way to find out where your parents are, is to ask them! Read more: Top 6 Social Media Platforms for Schools
How to Get Families to Follow You on Social Media
The best way for families to see your social media content is for them to follow you. In order to increase your follow rates, you’ll want to run ads as well as promote your social media pages through other channels. Here are some ideas:
- Include social media icons that link to your social media accounts on your website
- Include icons to your social media accounts in your email signature
- Think about other ways you can promote your social media accounts such as your reader board, bulletin boards, presentation media, etc.
The best time to start promoting your social media accounts is during the admissions process. You can invite parents to join a group or follow your page for support and information. By the time they’ve enrolled their student, they’ll probably already be following you. To bring in those who have achieved enrollment without following, keep reminding them by email.
Parent Engagement Strategies for Social Media
The goal of social media for schools isn’t so much to curate a newsfeed – it’s about growing your engagement. Posting news, events, and information about services is a good start, but how do you encourage parents to actually engage? Here are a few strategies that can help:
Create your own hashtag to collect user-generated content
Did you know you can register your school’s unique hashtag? It’s great for being able to “listen” to what’s being said about your school, collect user-generated content and helps build SEO.
Let’s be clear; registering a hashtag is not the same as owning it like you would a domain. However, once you’ve registered your hashtag, it’s considered inappropriate for someone else to use it. You can register hashtags at Hashtags.org or Twubs. Also, before you register your hashtags, check to see if someone else is using it by running it through Namech_k.
So once you have a recognizable hashtag that represents your school, make sure everyone knows about your hashtag by including it on your website and social media profiles. Then mention it in calls to action on your posts.
Then, once people are using your designated hashtag, you can use it to find content other people have published related to your school. If you decide you want to use the content, make sure you ask permission and give credit to the creator. Read more: Instagram Aesthetic Trend for School Marketers – Curated User Generated Content
Segment your audience into groups
Your main social media platforms are where you should be publishing general information about your school. If you want more targeting you can use groups to separate your audiences. You can keep the group private and only invite people who fit into each group. Keeping it private gives people the opportunity to interact more freely. If you don’t set up groups, parents might do it spontaneously without you. That means you won’t be able to step in and offer support. Creating official groups linked to your main profile gives you the best opportunity to support families.
You can create a group in Facebook, which is a good place for parent groups. LinkedIn also has a group function. It’s an ideal place to set up alumni groups. Read more: How to Create a LinkedIn Group
Share casual content through Stories
Stories offers a way to tell a story through a series of images or short clips. What you add to your Story disappears after 24 hours. Instagram is a preferred platform for Stories, but other platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and even LinkedIn have introduced stories.
One fun strategy you can use is to set up a GIPHY brand channel and then upload some GIFs using your designated hashtag. Your families can then search for and use those GIFs on Instagram Stories. Such branded content is a way to get some extra reach and help families feel a part of your school community.
- Always include a call to action
If you want parents to engage, tell them how. Be sure to state exactly what you want them to do. It might be uploading a photo, reply with an emoji, share a story, or visit a page on your website.
Select parents to become Parent Ambassadors
Word of mouth is one of biggest drivers of new families into your school. Happy parents tell their friends how much they love your schools and soon, that family starts to consider your school as well. Your school can capitalize on this vital recruitment strategy by developing a parent ambassador program.
A parent ambassador can speak at events or other speaking opportunities in your community. You can even host a “Takeover Tuesday” event where you let one of your parent ambassadors take over your social media channels for the day. This storytelling approach is a great way to engage other parents. It can really help parents feel engaged and connected to your school.
Social Media is a Two-Way Street
Always keep in mind that in order to get engagement on social media, you need to have engagement. Someone on your team needs to monitor your social media channels and respond to comments, direct messages and reviews. If a parent has a question or concern, make sure you address it.
Social media is a good way to attract new audiences and engage existing families. Be available on the channels where your families spend time and invite them to connect with you. With a responsive team and the tactics listed above, you can leverage social media to engage existing families.
Has your school had success increasing enrollment and retention through social media? Please share your experience in the comments below…