As a school marketer, social media is intertwined in your professional life. We use it for a variety of purposes, to attract brand awareness, drive engagement, communicate with others and as a visual portfolio of your school. Social media can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool that should be a part of your overall digital marketing strategy.
There are quite a few different social media platforms and choosing the right ones for your school can be tricky. How many social channels should your school have? It depends on how many you’re comfortable managing. While you certainly shouldn’t put all your efforts into one platform alone, too many platforms can affect your ability to spend enough time on each platform, be responsive and engage with followers in a timely manner.
If you feel like you are not completely on top of every social media account and not able to respond effectively to inquiries, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. And, if you feel your school has to have a presence on every new platform that comes out, you have the wrong mind-set.
School marketers need to choose their platforms wisely. All social media networks have different unique connection points, audiences and cultures, and so you need to determine which ones are going to be right for your school.
Where Are Your Competitors?
Start by looking at your competitor’s platforms. Look for accounts where your competitors are active, not abandoned ones. Review their content and see if you can determine the most popular type of content. This will help you as you form your content marketing strategy.
Which Social Media Platforms Should You Be Using?
An important factor you should take into account when determining which social platforms to invest your time into is where your target audience is active. What are the demographics of your prospective parents and where are they most likely to spend time on social media? For a complete breakdown of audiences and their social media use, visit Pew Research Center’s Social Media Use in 2021.
Here are the top six social media platforms you should consider adopting for your school.
If your school is going to select only one social media platform, it should be Facebook. Why? It’s because this is where most of your target audience spends time on social media. Facebook also makes it easy to engage with your community through likes, comments, stories, direct messaging, private groups and publishing posts.
Parents will be your primary audience on Facebook, but you’ll also find staff and community members joining in. Younger audiences (like high school students) tend to avoid Facebook (after all, their parents are there) but don’t worry – Instagram can help with that!
Content for Facebook can be quite varied. It’s a great place to share videos, photos, events, graphics, and don’t forget about Facebook Lives (live streaming). Just keep in mind you will mostly be targeting parents, so keep that in mind when crafting your messaging.
What not to post on Facebook. In the past, it was common practice for schools to publish announcements, notices and other information that could possibly be construed as controversial on Facebook. In this post-pandemic era, it is advisable to keep crisis updates, COVID-19 protocol changes or other news items off Facebook to avoid upset or politically-charged comments. Keep Facebook a positive place with uplifting posts and great visuals. Share updates and other news items on your website, in newsletters, emails and text messages.
Instagram is exploding in popularity among younger people, including parents who are millennials. Instagram was designed to be a photo-sharing network and is a great way to connect with younger users of your school’s community.
Instagram is a visual network, so it’s a place to publish photos, videos, and you can live stream on Instagram. Keep your target audience in mind. Students, and their parents, love to see photos of themselves. For this reason, user-curated content is very popular. Instagram has it’s own aesthetic culture. In order to be on top of these artistic trends, click here for a complete list of aesthetic trends for Instagram, and how to create these looks.
There’s more to Instagram than posts. Many schools are having success using Stories, Highlights and Reels.
Stories is a post that only appears for 24 hours, similar to Snapchat snaps. Stories can be found in the Explore page, making it possible for prospective families to find you who don’t already follow you. Since these posts disappear in 24 hours, there is less pressure to make Stories “perfect”.
Highlights is an Instagram feature allows you to group Stories under a category and save them permanently on your Page. You will find them just above your Instagram grid.
Reels are Instagram’s most recent feature. Reels are similar to TikTok videos and are proving to be popular with Instagram’s audience. These short videos are often set to music and can be found on the Explore page or through Instagram’s dedicated space on the app.
Twitter is a very popular social network for schools because it is an easy and quick way to share news, events and information. The platform is a short form microblogging platform and a way to connect with parents, prospective parents, and prospective boarding-school students from aboard.
Hashtags are an important aspect of the Twitter culture. When you use a hashtag in a tweet, it becomes linked to all the other tweets that include that hashtag, making it easy to track and find topics of interest.
Twitter is popular with staff, teachers, and educators all around the world. If you’re not there, you need to jump in so you have a voice in the conversation and listen to what’s being said.
Remember you only have 280 characters available and be sure to use a few hashtags. Visual content is helpful for drawing attention to your content. Also, Twitter is a platform that values near-instantaneous communication. For that reason, consider carefully whether you have the time and resources to continuously provide fresh content and quick responses.
Want to increase your followers on Twitter? Here are 25 Sure Fire Ways to Boost Twitter Engagement
YouTube is a powerful video channel for private schools. Since many parents go to YouTube for information, including evaluating potential schools, it is imperative you have a thriving YouTube channel. Here’s How to Create a YouTube Channel.
In order for your channel to be found, you will need to use organic tactics (SEO). Here’s How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Search.
The primary purpose of YouTube for schools is to share live clips of school events, academics, sports and culture.
Before you start a YouTube channel, make sure you have the ability to produce high-quality, professional videos so you will stand out from the competition. Thinking about hiring a videographer? Here’s How to Choose the Right Videographer for Your School
Pinterest is a great way to connect with your community visually. There are so many ways to utilize Pinterest to attract potential parents and showcase your school.
Many schools use Pinterest as a way to support parents school age children with resources, favorite activities, recipes, exciting classroom experiments, and photos that bring parents right into the classroom.
Your Pinterest followers can re-pin your content, making it an extremely effective marketing tactic. Pinterest is a great way to help parents find helpful and enjoyable solutions to meet the needs of their child.
LinkedIn attracts an older, highly-educated audience who are focused on improving their career, growing their business and professional development. It is a professional network used to connect with other professionals, share industry information, create a business profile, or find a new employment opportunity.
LinkedIn is a key place to establish your school’s profile, specifically focusing on professionals looking to send their child to a new educational institution.
LinkedIn is a great source of news within the education industry. It is a place where education professionals to connect with their colleagues and peers in a simple yet effective manner.
LinkedIn is a place to create a presence for your school, encourage alumni to engage with your page, share a testimonial for your school, as well as recruit professionals for open job positions.
Social media offers independent and private schools a tremendous marketing opportunity to connect with online audiences and increase your potential reach in ways you may never have imagined. There are other social networks to consider, of course, such as Snapchat and TikTok. However, both of these platforms may not be the best platforms for school marketing as they are not core drivers of engagement for most schools.
Social media should be an essential element of a school’s digital marketing plan. The most effective marketing tactics are placed where prospective families are active online. Today’s parents now expect to find your school on social media networks. Take your school’s marketing to the next level by building a strong and measurable social media marketing.
Does your school have a strong social media presence? Which platforms is your school active on? Please share your experience with the rest of the school marketing community by commenting below…