Fun fact: I analyze my own Instagram posts to figure out which time of day and which kind of posts will get me the most likes. Obsessive? Maybe. Smart? Definitely — as I apply this same kind of thought and analysis to Finalsite's social media strategy. And you should, too.
With algorithms hindering organic reach, and tight budgets leaving little to no room for social media advertising, the only way to ensure your school's posts get seen is to not only get social, but to get smart about it.
Here are four proven ways to increase the organic engagement of your school's social media posts.
1. Post During "Off" Hours
Of course it's convenient to post during your typical workday — but when you're trying to get a message out, it's important to think about when your followers are actively on social media, not just when it is convenient for you. This might mean posting during "off" work hours.
If you're looking for a "general rule of thumb," early mornings, lunch time, and evenings (after dinner) typically get pretty good engagement across networks.
Rather than working by a "general rule of thumb" it is important to consider the dynamics of each social network, including:
- Which audience is most active on the network: For example, parents are typically more active on Facebook than Instagram. Consider their schedule and lifestyle when planning your Facebook posts.
- How users access the social network: For example, Instagram engagement is only available on mobile, while Facebook is still heavily used on both desktop and mobile.
- Any algorithms that may affect the organic reach of your post: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have algorithms that control the organic reach of your post based on its content, number of likes, etc.
- Facebook: 3:00pm on Wednesday, Weekends from 1:00-4:00pm, or any day of the week from 12:00-1:00pm.
- Twitter: Weekdays from 12:00-3:00pm and 5:00pm.
- Instagram: Mondays and Thursdays at any time, except for between 3:00-4:00pm.
- LinkedIn: Midweek from 5:00-6:00pm, noon, or 7:30-8:30am.
2. Include Images
We all know that nobody reads anymore — but the brain, by nature, loves images. A matter of fact, it processes images 60,000x faster than text. So, if you're hoping that your post gains some traction, it should always (no excuses!) include a photo or visual.
Here's a few more stats that back up visual social posts:
- Posts with images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
- Visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content.
- Facebook posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without images.
- Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images.
Free Report: The State of Social Media Marketing Among Schools
3. Use Videos
Already using photos in your posts? Try social video. Video posts get an average of 62% more engagement than photos — most likely because social media algorithms favor video content.
On a clear day from our campus #MaunaKea looms majestically. This amazing dormant #volcano is the highest point in the state of #Hawaii and the worlds tallest #mountain from base to summit. This 33,000 ft tall wonder offers our students many opportunities for outdoor play - bike-riding, hiking, camping, stargazing, snowball fights and more! Check out this great footage of the mountain, shot with #drones and edited by #HPA alumni and students: Jack Solomon '15, Hiro Ueno '14, Bo Bleckel '14, and Juan Miche Rosales '16. @jackso808 @hiro_ueno @bobleckel @azteco808 #hpakamakani #bigisland #outdooradventure #dronefootage #drone
A few tips for creating social video (like this one!):
- When you create a full length video for your site, immediately create a short "teaser" version for social media.
- Keep it short and sweet! 15-60 seconds is enough to entice your followers.
- Add a text overlay so that mobile users don't have to have the sound on to understand the content of the video.
- Always link to a page on your school's website to drive site traffic.
4. Interact With Your Followers
During FinalsiteU I caught up with numerous schools about their social media presence — and to my surprise, many of them do not engage with their students, faculty, and parents on social media.
But social media isn't meant to be a podium, it's meant to be a conversation. Your followers expect you to interact with them. According to research, 42% of social media users expect a response from a brand in 60 minutes.
And while engaging in a conversation on social media seems to be walking that fine line of relationships, student privacy, and school brand and voice — when done right, it can increase engagement, followers, and organic reach.
Here are a few tips to be conversational, without sacrificing the integrity of your school brand or mission:
- "Like" or "Retweet" tweets from coaches, teachers, students, and parents that provide authentic content in line with your school's marketing efforts. This includes photos, scores from the game, a quote about an experience, etc.
- Create a branded hashtag and only share or engage with posts under that specific hashtag
- Provide guidelines face-to-face. Let students, faculty and parents know your expectations on social media, and that if they share content on their personal profiles that isn't representative of your school, then it won't be shared.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.