After maintaining our school’s social media channels for about two years now I’ve learned a lot about using social media for schools. I’ve had some success, as well as some failure, and want to share with you how cutting back can actually improve your efforts with social media.
Tip #1 – Lose The Fear
The most important thing I’ve learned about social media for schools is to not being afraid. There is no place for fear in social media even though this blog was actually born out of fear – let me explain. As we began thinking about using social media for my school, I launched this blog as a way to test my theories and knowledge of social media, inbound marketing, and branding for schools. I thought that if I “screwed something up” it would only effect my name and not my schools. The lesson that I’ve learned is that you’re not going to screw anything up – the only result of your efforts will be that some will be more effective than others. So lose the fear and don’t be afraid of using social media for your school.
Tip #2 – Cut Back On The Number Of Posts
When I began using Facebook and Twitter for our school I believed that more was better. I posted everything to our Facebook page including our tweets, our blog’s RSS feed, our recent news, and anything else I could find about our school. The result – we were overwhelming our Facebook Friends which actually seemed to drive down the amount of interaction and engagement we had with our page. I also felt that the large amount of information was impossible for our fans to consume. The lesson that I’ve learned is to post less frequently but consistently. We now post to our Facebook page 2-3 times a day and 3-4 times a day on Twitter. Anecdotally we’ve earned more engagement as a result of posting less frequently but focusing on better content.
Tip #3 – Minutes in Moderation
I’m currently the only person managing our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels – we have a team that manages our blog of which I am a part. Along with social media I still have my responsibilities in the admission and financial aid offices. Personally, I really do enjoy spending time with my family. So why am I telling you this? Because there are only so many minutes in the day that I can devote to social media. As a result, I try to maximize the effectiveness of those minutes – I do this by planning and scheduling our social media efforts and I encourage you to do the same. The lesson that I’ve learned is whether you have a group of people to manage your channels, or more likely, you are doing this yourself – leverage technology to schedule your content. I use Hootsuite to post to Facebook and Twitter at the times I select. I also use Timely to help me manage our school’s Twitter account. With regard to YouTube I’ve began posting short videos taken with my iPhone 4 from events happening around school. Managing your social media channels is a balancing act between minutes devoted to management and effectiveness of reaching your goals – experiment to determine the right balance for you.
Tip #4 Cut Back On Words
Creating content for your inbound marketing strategy will be the biggest challenge you’ll face. While I’m a big believer in “repurposing” content you’ll eventually need to create fresh, timely, and interesting content. The lesson I’ve learned is to cut back on words and think about posting videos and photos of your school. I think the benefits to this type media are three fold: 1. A picture of the daily life of your school truly is worth a thousand words; 2. The time to post a photo vs. the time it takes to write a thousand words will allow you to spend some time with your family; 3. I’ve found that we received more interaction and engagement from our photos and videos – a win-win for all.
Counter-intuitive as it may seem, cutting back has actually helped our social media efforts. I hope you’ll learn from my lessons and apply them to your work flow. If you’ve been working with social media I would love to hear about your lessons learned by posting them in the comments below.