- General Best Practices
"Diet starts Monday," are my famous last words — and have been since 2009. I'm your typical New Year's Resolution-er, I stick to my guns for about 90 days, and then Taco Tuesdays quickly replace nights at the gym, and leftover birthday cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner becomes a totally acceptable meal plan.
But one New Year's Resolution I always find easy to stick to, is my work New Year's Resolution.
Work NYRs are different, because they hold you accountable for a professional goal that can help your marketing team make some pretty significant strides. After a year of looking at school websites, hosting webinars, and diving into the latest research, I wanted to share six easy work New Year's Resolutions that every school professional working in admissions, marketing, advancement and communications can make in 2017.
1. Stop using stock photos
Here's one thing we know for certain: your website visitors see right through cliché — and those stock photos you're using? Yeah, they've probably seen them elsewhere on the Internet already. And today, cliché doesn't cut it.
Stock photos are — for lack of a better term — unacceptable in your marketing. Authentic content is king — so make room in the budget to hire a professional photographer 2-3 times a year.
If a professional photographer isn't in your budget, you can look to other resources:
Social media: Bringing in a social media mash-up will ensure you have fresh, up-to-date photos on your website daily.
Students, faculty, and parents: No matter the size of your school, you will have a parent, teacher, or even student who is into photography.
Make a one-time investment in a good camera: While hiring a photographer 2-3 times a year could cost you up to $15k, purchasing a good camera once means you are in total control of when you can take photos. The Canon 6D kit is my top recommendation for schools because it does a fantastic job with photo and video.
Want some tips on taking photos? We have a couple great blogs on that already!
2. Consolidate your Twitter Accounts
Okay, this one is easy. You wouldn't want to have 10 different websites, would you? Same goes for your social media. While many schools have separate Twitter accounts for every single sports team, we strongly advise against it, as you're splitting your social media traffic. It creates confusion, and followers are often confused as where to go to find the information they need.
Now, if you're worried about coaches and athletics team disrupting your Twitter strategy, here are a few things to consider:
- The life of a tweet is just about 10 minutes. So, even though you had that amazing Tweet at 2pm, whoever saw it, already saw it.
- You can pin a tweet to the top of your feed that is important, so everyone who goes to your Twitter will see that first.
- Using Finalsite Feeds, our social media mash-up tool, you can streamline or separate content based on hashtags — so, by giving each athletics team their own hashtag, they could bring in all their tweets into a single location on your website...and that's where you want people going anyways, right?
3. Stop sending mass, general emails to everyone
I learned the term "Graymail" this year, and it forever changed my life. Graymail is email that your constituents opted to receive, but they don't want. So, they never engage with your emails. While these emails don't get marked as SPAM, the more you send emails to individuals who don't engage with you, your email deliverability goes down — making it harder to get into the inboxes of those who engage with you.
Yeah — scary.
A few ideas for sending targeted emails:
- Segment your emails: Make a different newsletter for parents, students, faculty, and alumni. While these constituent groups may need to hear some of the same content, they don't need to receive all of it. St. Anne's-Belfield School gets extremely granular in their communications — even for the same event!
- Start fresh: Create an emails newsletter subscription form on your website for anyone who isn't a current constituent. As individuals apply, keep them on their own email list, so if they don't enroll, you don't accidentally keep sending them emails.
- Watch who replies: While we often fear, someone responding to our emails, this is marketing gold. You might learn that someone has a new email, that they no longer have a child enrolled, or just don't want to receive your email. Honor those changes.
- Keep tabs on the un-engaged: With each email, look at open rates. If there's an individual, or group of individuals, who aren't responding to your emails, be sure to opt them out of future communications.
Website Content Planner
4. Write fresh content 3 times a week
New blogs and fresh news content are your key to marketing success in 2017. Here are six tips to start and master your school's blog in the new year:
- Determine a focus: What do you want to blog about?
- Gather a group of dedicated writers: Who will be your main contributor?
- Create a content calendar: What will you post, and when?
- Establish and editing process: Who has the final say?
- Write simply and with intent
- Share via social media
Read the full-length tips in this blog post.
5. Move blogs and landing pages hosted on a sub-domain to your website
Hosting your blog on Wordpress, your inquiry pages on your Student Information System, and other landing pages on a tool like Hubspot? I have news for you — you're killing your organic website traffic.
If you're already producing great content, and you're putting it on a different domain, you're forcing Google to choose between where they send searchers to: your website, your blog, or your other landing pages. Often, Google will choose whichever one has the most credibility.
Long story short: blog.yourschool.com and yourschool.com are constantly competing for tops ranks. And that's bad — dangerous, even.
A few steps to getting started:
- Take an inventory of how many domains you are hosting your website on
- Strategically determine which content you want to move to your website
- Form a content migration team, and make it a goal to move over at least 2 pieces of content per day, each. This will vary based on how much content you have elsewhere.
6. Post on social media every single day.
In 2017, schools who aren't social will be left behind. Make it a top priority in the New Year to post every single day on your social media channels. Here are a few tips for posting:
- Twitter: 5-10 times per day: Engagement can drop off after the third tweet
- Facebook: 2 times per day: Engagement drops off dramatically after 2x per day
- LinkedIn: 1 time per day: 20 posts per month (1x per weekday) organically reaches 60% of your followers
- Instagram: 1-2 times per day: 20 posts per month (1x per weekday) organically reaches 60% of your followers
According to research, the following times (in general) get the most engagement:
- 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
We recommend using an app such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content so that you don't have to worry about being online at these exact times to post.
Following through on your work New Year's Resolution
Whether you choose one of these six New Year's Resolutions, or create your own — follow through! A few tips for staying focused on your work goals (which, I think is so much easier than going to the gym and eating salads):
- Dedicate at least one hour every Monday and Friday to your goal. If it's more social media, spend the first hour of your day scheduling posts. If it's more photos, take the time to go around school and snag some photos of what's happening right then.
- Create a group to hold you accountable. We can do things alone, but studies show we have more success when we want to accomplish tasks in groups. No matter what your NYR is, get 2-3 other team members on board to make it a more fast and fun process.
- Track your progress: There is nothing like checklists to make you feel like you're making progress! Use an online app like Trello or Teamwork to keep track of tasks and communicate with your teammates.
- Share your success story: If you follow one of our NYRs, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'd love to feature your school
Good luck and Happy New Year!
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 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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