Social media is intrinsically tied to our everyday functioning, for better or for worse.
It's great for checking up on your neighbor's brother's roommate, scrolling through cats in Halloween costumes (is there really a better way to procrastinate?), and taking personality quizzes to assess which Disney character you're most like. Your best friend, your electrician, your grandmother — but most importantly, your current and prospective community members — are all on social media.
While it serves multiple user gratifications including, entertainment, relationship development and maintenance, and education, social media is also an independent school marketer's dream because it provides the ideal avenue for constant communication, new connections and sharing content.
Here are some tips on how independent schools can use social media to their advantage.
It's All About Creating Better Content
- There are 1.65 billion active mobile social media accounts globally.
- 53% of social media users report liking or following a brand in the past six months.
- 46% report that brands don't provide meaningful content on social media.
- It is estimated that the indexed web contains 4.77 billion webpages
What do these statistics mean to you? Perspective students and their families are social media users and they are actively interacting with brands on social media. However, the content is falling short of their expectations. With the seemingly endless webpages available, people are completely and utterly saturated by content. In order for your content to get read, it has to be superior.
To ensure capturing the attention of your prospective families, here are some general tips and strategies:
- Optimize your website for mobile usage and be sure to preview the content from a mobile device
- Showcase your live social media streams directly on your webpage
- Include visible social media icons near sharable content
- Use analytical tools, such as SproutSocial and Google Analytics, to track the ways in which perspective families are engaging with your social media.
Personalize your interactions
"Hi Sophie, loved the team spirit you showed at the homecoming game! Go Knights!"
Personalization is everything because it ultimately builds trust in your school's brand! In a sea of 1.96 billion social network users, it is important to make your students feel like an individual. This means addressing them by name, creating unique content based on their particular interests, and engaging them in online conversation.
Here are some examples:
Make hashtags work for you
To be a part of the conversation, you have to speak the language of your users. Is your user going to engage with #ExtraCurricularDevelopment or #AcaMazing after showcasing an a cappella concert?
Hashtags are the SEO of social media. Your hashtag must be specific enough to a targeted trending conversation, but broad enough to increase its likelihood of being sought out.
If you are having trouble tuning into your users' conversations, Hashtagify.me helps social media content creators to search related hashtags, identify top influencers, and explore usage patterns.
Shout out to Guilford College for harnessing the power of the hashtag and optimizing their social media resources! #WeAreGuilford — it's short, simple, easy to remember and can be used at almost every event at the school.
Free Hashtag Cheat Sheet
Focus on timing
To optimize the viewership of your social media content, you have to think like a social media user.
Are you logging into Facebook at 3am on a Tuesday night? Are you reading a blog over your family dinner? Probably not, but you might jump on Instagram during a lunch break or while waiting for a bus after work.
Consider the following when scheduling your social media content.
- Parents are most active on Facebook and LinkedIn
- Students are most active on Instagram
- Engagement rates for Facebook are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays.
- Instagram engagement peaks on Wednesdays
- Mondays are the highest traffic day for blogs.
Tailor when you post your social media content according to who your audience is, parents or students, and what social media platform you are posting to. If you are trying to reach a parent for example, perhaps post your content to Facebook on a Tuesday or a Friday, between 1:00pm and 3:00pm. Utilize tools such as Buffer.com to schedule your social media to be posted at optimal times.