If you take a few minutes to scan popular social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you’ll find private schools across the U.S. are active on social media. There are many benefits of marketing independent schools on social media, so if you don’t yet have a strong social media presence, you’re missing out!
Here’s everything you need to know about how to start social media marketing for your school (or improve your social media marketing performance).
Why Social Media Marketing is Crucial for Schools
As of 2020, there were more than 223 million social media users in the United States alone. Globally, the number of social media users reached 4.2 billion in 2021. That’s a lot of people and why social media is one of the best places to market your school online.
Highlight Your Unique Value Proposition
Prospective parents want to know what’s exceptional about your school. Promote whatever it is that makes your school unique and remarkable on social media so families understand how your school will benefit their child and their family.
Build an Engaged Community
It can be challenging to keep parents engaged with your school, especially with all the time constraints parents face. Incredibly, 70 percent of adults on Facebook check their social media at least once a day. This makes social media a great way to connect with busy parents. Social media gives followers a place to like, share and comment on your content, making it a place people can connect and feel they “know” your school.
The credibility of your school matters to prospective parents. One way you can showcase the eminence of your school is to publish parent, student and alumni testimonials on social media. Social media is a great place for generating reviews, so it’s important to have a presence on social networks.
How to Start Social Media Marketing
Here are the steps needed to get started on social media. If you’re already on social media platforms, use this article to evaluate your social media strategy and make refinements if needed.
Step 1. Set Measurable Goals
It’s important to set achievable, measurable goals for your social media strategy. Your social media goals should be in alignment with your marketing strategic goals. Examples of social media goals include:
- Increase the number of inquiries
- Increase awareness of your capital campaign
- Improve your online brand and reputation
- Increase brand awareness, measured in follower counts and reach of posts
- Drive web traffic as measured by referral traffic and bounce rates (Google Analytics)
- Generate new leads by monitoring clicks and conversions
- Increase engagement through likes, shares, comments, mentions, etc.
Step 2. Select the social media channels that align with your school
There are quite a few social media channels out there. Some of the most common ones include:
The best social media channels for your school will largely depend on your parent personas. You’ll want to choose platforms where your prospective parents are most likely to be active. The use of social media platforms varies – sometimes widely – by demographic group. Learn more here: Social Media Use in 2021 (Pew Research Center)
Before you commit to your channels, you may want to conduct a social media audit to determine the best places to invest your time and funding. A social media audit will help you determine what’s working, what’s not working and where the gaps are in your social media strategy.
Some schools have found it challenging to manage several platforms at once. If you’re concerned about getting overwhelmed (which is easy to do), start by focusing on one social media channel and then add additional platforms as you’re comfortable.
Step 3. Create a social media marketing handbook
It’s important to document your social media policies, procedures and acceptable practices as they relate to your social media marketing. Your social media policy should reflect your school’s culture and be consistent with other school policies. Here’s a list of the types of information that should be included:
- A list of your official social media networks
- Login credential security and protection
- Naming conventions
- Guidelines for profile logo, descriptions, cover and header images
- Brand colors
- Ethical standards and etiquette
- Guidelines for images, graphics, video posts, and user-generated content
- Brand voice, grammar and terminology
- Messaging conventions
- How to handle comments, reviews (including negative comments or reviews), inquiries and competitor interactions
- How posts will be formatted according to the culture and conventions of each network
- Protocol for scheduling and approving social media posts
- How to credit sources (attribution)
- Social media crisis strategy (how your school will incorporate social media into your crisis communication plan). Read more: Is Your School Ready to use Social Media in a Crisis?
Step 4. Plan your social content
The success of your social media marketing efforts will depend on the types of content your prospective parents are interested in. Getting to know what your audience is looking for is a complex process.
Start with a content audit to determine the types of content best performing on your website. This will give you clues on the content your audience is seeking.
Determine the types of content you want to publish on your social channels. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Ask fun and easy-to-answer questions to invite engagement
- Invite congratulations when a group, teacher or student wins an award
- Promote school events
- Link to online events
- Stream live video on Facebook and other social channels
- Show scenes of your campus
- Answer frequently asked questions – ask your Admissions Counselors for a list of the questions they are often asked
- Show a class in session
- Interview teachers, parents and alumni
- Cover local topics you know parents are interested in (i.e. local sports teams)
- Student stories about their favorite memories
- Fun school events and activities (i.e. annual Halloween costume parade)
- Behind the scenes look at sports, concerts, art shows, theatrical performances, graduation, special guests, and social events
- Use inspiring visuals
- Beautiful scenery and architecture on your campus
- Create Facebook and LinkedIn Groups
- Curate user-generated content
- Create videos
- Work with local media to get coverage for your school
- Find content that will have a wide audience, such as news from your faculty, stories about interesting classroom activities, field trips, etc.
More content resources:
- 36 Video Topics That Will Generate More Views & Engagement for Your School
- 304 Appealing Pinterest Board Topics for School Marketers
- 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools
- How to Find Blog Topics Using Google Analytics
- How to Create a Content Strategy for Your School
- How Schools Use Social Media for Marketing
Step 5. Coordinate with other content channels
Step 6. Create an editorial calendar
An editorial calendar makes all the difference when it comes to execution of your content publishing. It allows you to plan and organize your content publishing schedule. This will give your content structure and strategy.
An editorial calendar also makes it easier to repurpose your content.
An editorial calendar provides an outline of your day-by-day plan for executing your content. It allows you to develop and use a big-picture strategy that supports your goals and mission. It also means you won’t forget to promote important school milestones, highlight important holidays or school events, or planned inquiry campaigns.
One of the biggest benefits of an editorial calendar is that it can reduce your stress level. As a school marketer, often wearing too many hats, this is really helpful! And, when you combine this with social media scheduling, your job just got a whole lot easier!
Step 7. Schedule your social media content
Once you’ve created your social media content, it’s time to schedule your posts. It’s impossible to publish each post manually on each platform in real-time. There are excellent software tools designed to automate your publishing schedule and help you monitor the results of your social media efforts.
Here are 26 Social Media Tools for 2021 and Beyond to help you determine the best social media scheduling tools for your school.
Step 8. Reach new audiences with paid social advertising
You’ll need to consider investing in paid ads in order to reach new prospective parents. Social platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram, offer very specific audience targeting you can utilize to reach your specific audience.
You can also utilize retargeting, which allows you to target ads to people who have visited your website or landing page. This is a very valuable way to reach people who have shown an interest in your school or have visited an inquiry page but not completed the form.
Step 9. Measure your results
It’s important to track, analyze and report the results of your social media campaigns. Social media key performance indicators (KPIs) help you analyze how well your social media posts and engagement are working, and what you need to do to meet your social media marketing goals and objectives.
Even though your primary goal may be to reach new prospective families, don’t forget about the community you already have. You want your current students to stay at your school, enjoy the time they are enrolled and stay engaged after they graduate. Remember when students connect with each other and share content, school spirit can flourish.
Is your school using social media to market your school? What tips or recommendations would you add to this list? Please comment below…