I recently conducted a webinar for the Association of Independent Michigan Schools titled, “Social Media for Admission Professionals.” In preparation for that webinar I thought a lot about how and why I use social media for my school. Through my reflection I determined three mistakes that I made when I began using social media and I want to share them so that you can learn from my failures.
The Importance of Goals
I’ve talked time and time again about the importance of determining goals when using social media for your school. When we started using social media I took my own advice and determined our goal was to drive engagement. I thought I could measure fans/followers in the hopes of having our social media “reach” increase exponentially as our fans and followers increased.
While I thought that was a great goal, I was wrong. I ended up being obsessed with increasing our fan/follower count and lost sight of why I began using social media in the first place. What I learned about using social media for my school is that you might need multiple goals in the end and that each goal should be measured independently.
As a result, I’ve changed our goals regarding social media. I now view our use of social media two ways: 1. Increase inquiries, and 2. Help decrease attrition. Overall, two very measurable and important goals for independent schools.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
When I began using social media for our school I thought we needed to be on every major social media channel. As a result, we created and launched accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our school blog. If social media were a food – my eyes were bigger than my stomach. In the end, we didn’t have enough resources to create content for each channel and our YouTube channel suffered.
We have since circled back and now try to populate each channel with relevant and interesting content. Learn from my mistake and only launch as many social media channels as you have resources to manage.
Social Media Is Not A Panacea
When we formally launched our social media channels it was in partial response to help our enrollment efforts after the economic crash in 2008. I felt that social media would save the day and solve all of our problems – help with enrollment, stop attrition, and maybe even result in world peace.
Needless to say, I over-estimated the effect of social media and its ability to help our school. I truly believe in the power of social media but now understand that social media is a marathon and not a sprint. When you embark on using social media for your school please know that its effects will take time. Be patient and good things will come.
If you haven’t started with social media yet for your school I hope you will start but keep these lessons in mind. If you’ve already started with social media for your school I hope you will compare your efforts to my failures. Good luck and here’s to using social media successfully.