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The 3 Types of School Social Media Posts That Always Get Engagement
Mia Major

Let’s face it: social media marketing is hard. Algorithms change without much notice. Ads can be a total waste of money if not managed properly. People write you nasty reviews because they’re bored. And people and things that make no sense at all get more engagement than your tear-jerking posts about graduation. Take my dog sitter, for instance, whose full-time job is managing her famous pig’s Instagram. With 331,000 followers, her random photo of a pig napping on the couch will probably get more likes than anything you post on social media.

Hamlet the Pig Instagram Post

I don’t say that to discourage you, though. I say that to remind you that this world — especially social media — is full of noise. Your content is competing with adorable pot-belly pigs, relatable memes poking fun at human nature, remarketing ads featuring previously viewed products, group posts, posts from friends and family, etc. 

And unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to social media engagement. Not even the 4-1-1 rule. (For every four pieces of informational/enjoyable content, you’re allowed one soft sell and one hard sell.) 

However, from our research and work with more than 2,200 schools around the world, we can say with certainty the following three types of post get the most engagement time and time again.

Three Types of Social Media Content That Always Get Engagement

Posts with candid (or staged) photos: Families — especially the families of students at boarding, international and PreK-8 grade schools — love having the opportunity to see what’s happening each and every day. And whether you’re a day school in Hawaii or a boarding school in New England, don’t forget about the eye candy of your campus!

Posts about people: Beloved faculty, prestigious alumni, graduating seniors, incoming freshman, retiring faculty…your school has a huge upper hand over all other industries, as one of your key products is your people -- and people relate to people!

Posts about accomplishments: From commencement and winning spelling bees to championship-winning baseball teams and alumnae that go pro, social media posts about your current and former community excelling in life always give your community, key stakeholders, and even the media, to share the content you post.

These three types of photos, while different in content, all have similarities that make them work, without fail.

  • They’re accompanied by a visual: It can be a photo, video, or series of photos.
  • They tell some type of story: In every case, they are accompanied by a few sentences of text that draw the user in.
  • They evoke some type of emotion: Whether it be happiness, sadness, nostalgia, or even F.O.M.O (fear of missing out), each one of these posts has the power to evoke emotion.
  • They transcend social media platforms: While each social media network does have its own strategy in terms of image size, number of hashtags, etc. these types of content are effective on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat.
  • The content can be evergreen or repurposed: While accomplishments are more of a timely post (unless it's #ThrowbackThursday), candid photos and photos featuring your community don’t have to be brand new, and can be pulled from viewbooks, your website, and older social media posts. 

Now, let’s take a look at some of these examples in action:

Here's an example from Western Reserve Academy, who found time to talk about one of their alumni during the busy commencement season.

facebook post about alumni from WRA

Trinity-Pawling school has been repurposing content from the Senior Pages of their yearbook for compelling and emotional Facebook posts.

trinity-pawling senior pages post

Highlighting faculty who will soon be retired is a simple recipe for tons of engagement, and so is posting about a beloved teacher who got the recognition they deserve — so take note from Loomis Chaffee.

loomis chaffee faculty post

Of course, accomplishments often get some of the highest engagement rates. And the more people there are in the photo, the more likely you are to get likes, comments, and shares!

taft JV girls tennis post

This can’t be all there is to social it?

Well, to put it But it’s an excellent start! For many schools, coming up with fresh content every single day (especially during the summer months) can be difficult — and I encourage you to think about how you can get one post of each type of content on your social media profiles each week — that’s three posts per week, per social media network.

Here’s how you can get started in 5 easy steps:

  1. Do an inventory of the photos you have from marketing through the years, and organize them by type of post (candids, people, and accomplishments.)
  2. Take a look at the next year’s academic calendar, and see if there’s any correlation between the content you have, and the events you have planned. Planning posts based on time of year can increase engagement.
  3. Review your data on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see which of YOUR posts are getting the most engagement, and identify trends. (Is there a certain sports team that always gets the most likes? Maybe a faculty member? Or maybe it’s just a day of the week!)
  4. Make a list of photos you want but you don’t have, and create a plan on how you will obtain them. (Don’t sweat it if you only have a cell phone camera, too. Here’s a series of tips for using that camera for awesome photos.)
  5. Then, use our weekly social media content planner to plan out which types of content your posting on each network every week, and if you have any ad budget for it.

click here to download a free benchmark report titled, %22the state of social media marketing among schools.%22


Mia Major

As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, and Marketing Manager for Public Schools, Mia creates content that is helpful to public schools and districts. 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.

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