Why Use Social Media for School Marketing?

Everyone is doing social media! Why should you use social media for school marketing? Because everybody’s doing it – that’s why. Not a good reason for doing anything, I know, and probably not the answer you were looking for but let me explain. During the course of this past weekend I noticed two examples from the business world of established companies engaging in social media in conjunction with their traditional outbound marketing.

  1. Heinz Tomato Ketchup – I took the picture on the right at my local grocery store and am impressed that Heinz was pushing people to their Facebook Page.
  2. Toyota Sienna – I hope you’ve seen the recent commercials launching the new Toyota Sienna. Pretty funny! At the end of the commercials Toyota posts a link to their YouTube Channel as opposed to their homepage.

Just because Heinz and Toyota are engaging their fans through social media doesn’t mean that you should rush out to use social media. You should rush out to use social media for authentic engagement with your different constituents, and  improved inbound marketing and branding, but use the lessons from Heinz and Toyota in the implementation of your campaign.

To Begin With Social Media Answer These Two Questions

Just because everyone is using social media for school marketing doesn’t mean that they are doing it well.

Before you begin setting up your social media profiles, start by listening. To learn why and how to listen on social media, click here to go to “Don’t Start With Social Media.”

After listening, before you embark on a social media campaign, you need a plan. In order to develop your plan, you’ll need to do a few things.

  1. Research your competition. It’s important to understand who you’re competing with and what social media platforms they’re using. Consider using SEO Coach to help you with your competitor research.
  2. Know what makes your school special. The things that make your school unique are what prospective parents want to hear about.
  3. Research current social media best practices. The field of social media marketing is changing rapidly. Your school needs to stay abreast of new developments in the field, such as:
  1. Conduct a content audit. Before you get started on social media, create a list of all of your content assets. You will use these to publish to your social media accounts throughout the year. Identify your content gaps and create a plan on how to fill those gaps.

Read more: How to Conduct a Content Audit for Your School Website

Now that you’ve laid the ground work, there are two steps you need to take to develop your social media marketing plan.

Step #1. Determine your goals. Common school marketing goals include driving traffic to your website and engagement with your target audience (families). Admissions departments tend to focus on brand awareness and lead generation, which are also good goals for social media marketing.

Read more: How to Write a Marketing Plan for a Private School on a Budget (Helpful even if you have a large budget.)

Step #2. Determine the metrics you will track and analyze. Once you figure out what metrics you will measure, you can track and analyze the performance of your social media marketing efforts. This will help you see what tactics are working and where you need to make adjustments to your strategy.

Read more: 13 Social Media Metrics That Matter to School Marketers

Social Media for School Marketing Goals

Jumping into social media for school marketing without a clear purpose will end up being a waste of time at best or a disaster at worst.  It is important for your school to have a clear purpose in mind when engaging people with social media for school marketing. Your goals can either be simple or complex but they should be well-defined and known to your entire marketing and/or administrative team.

Return On Investment (ROI)

There has been much talk about social media for school marketing and ROI lately and I think I have figured out the key to it all – only you can figure out what matters to your school and define how it is measured. As a result, you should determine the goal(s) of your social media campaign and then determine how you will measure it’s success.  In the end, this process will determine your return on investment.  ROI is, and should be, specific to each school and to each social media campaign.

Everyone’s Doing It

After determining your goals and metrics, revisit the social media campaigns from Heinz and Toyota for ideas on how to implement your own campaign.  If it’s good enough for ketchup it might be good enough for your school. I also encourage those of you who are already “doing it” to use the comment section below to share your goals and corresponding metrics with your own social media campaigns.


Originally published August 10, 2010, 10:39 AM, updated February 16, 2022

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