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How Can My School Get More Engagement on Social Media?
Kristen Doverspike

Social media best practices can change like the wind. From Facebook to Instagram and LinkedIn to Twitter, engagement algorithms often shift to keep up with our equally volatile expectations.

So if you’re managing your school or district’s social media and are noticing a lack of engagement from your community, know you’re not alone. Your peers are having the exact same #SocialMediaStruggles! Facebook alone has undergone nearly 70 updates to the way it shares and distributes content over the years.

While algorithms are constantly evolving, there are a few tried-and-true methods of social media management that will always work in your favor. In this blog, we’ll walk through five tactics that you can use to get more engagement, likes, and shares.

  1. Establish and follow a planned calendar
  2. Only use the channels you have time for
  3. Celebrate your community
  4. Respond to every comment
  5. Follow some basic posting best practices for schools 

1. Establish and follow a planned calendar.

The first step toward establishing a strong social media presence is getting ahead and planning your calendar. 

It may feel like that’s easier said than done, but whether you’re a team of five or one, taking just an hour each week to plan your social media calendar will dramatically improve your engagement. 

Here’s why: When you’re posting in a silo each day, you’re likely not thinking about the time of day, the content, or your audience. You’re posting what’s most important to your school at that moment, regardless of what you’ve already said to your community earlier in the week. You might even be posting randomly just to keep up your presence, without any intention.

When you’re planning a week’s worth of content at the same time, however, you’re naturally more strategic about what you’re posting. You can clearly lay out what messages you’re putting out there, avoid redundancies, and keep your community at the forefront. 

If you ever feel stuck, download Finalsite’s always-up-to-date social media calendar, full of daily ideas!

Bonus: Pick a social media “rule” and stick to it.

There are a few social media “rules” for content, like the 4-1-1 rule, the 70-20-10 rule, and the rule of thirds. These guidelines help you establish the perfect balance of shared, promotional, and authentic content to post in favor of social media algorithms. In short — when you place a higher focus on posting about your community than you do on pushing promotional content (like admissions messages), your audience will be more likely to engage with you.

a chart showing the 7-20-10 Rule

Above, the 70-20-10 rule suggests that the large majority, or 70% of your content, should be fun and/or educational. Read more about creating a social media calendar based on these rules here. 

2. Only use the channels you have time for.

It’s a common misconception that you must be present on every social media platform. While you may want to create profiles to claim your school’s name, having a daily presence on every channel may not be in the cards for your small or single-member social media team.

When you’re trying to juggle upwards of five platforms, you may fall into bad posting habits (more on this in tip 5). So, to be sure you are putting your best foot forward, start small and work your way up.

Core Channels: Facebook and Instagram

If you had to choose only two channels to focus on, we would recommend Facebook and Instagram. These channels cast the widest net in terms of generational reach, meaning you will be able to engage with parents, students, and alumni alike. Plus, having a great presence on Facebook and Instagram sets you up for success if and when you decide to start advertising. Putting a small budget behind a top-performing post may be just the thing you need to increase inquiries, and Facebook and Instagram are the major players in the social media advertising space for schools.

Secondary Channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, etc.

Once you feel comfortable with your daily cadence on Facebook and Instagram, you can begin to introduce channels like LinkedIn (mainly for teacher recruitment and alumni engagement), Twitter (for news and athletics), and maybe even TikTok (for student engagement and prospecting). While these channels present their own unique advantages, they should only be added to your strategy once you have a strong presence on your core Facebook and Instagram channels. 

At the end of the day, social media is about quality over quantity. Even as algorithms shift, your followers will be more inclined to engage with well-thought-out, compelling content on two channels over duplicative or haphazard posts on five channels. 

3. Celebrate your community.

Remember the posting rules that we went over at the beginning of this blog? Social media algorithms tend to favor friend-to-friend content over business-to-follower content — meaning, your school’s content is already competing with hundreds of posts that your followers are seeing from their own friends. So, to beat the algorithms and cut through the noise, it’s vital to post more engaging content than promotional content. And what’s the most engaging content you can post? Photos and videos that feature your community! This is the most “human” content you can produce, and it’s exactly what your followers crave when they log into their preferred platform.

screenshot of Felsted Social media

Felsted School in Essex has a notably strong social media presence, and they celebrate their community in nearly every post. This creates a vibrant feed on every channel, and their engagement numbers say it all.

screenshot of Felsted Tik Tok

A recent TikTok of theirs (shown here), simply showcases photos of life on campus, and they’ve garnered more than 15K views and 600 likes just from that post alone!

Here are some easy ways to showcase your community in a social media post:

  • Highlight a student
  • Highlight a teacher or staff member
  • Share a photo or video of campus
  • Share highlights from an athletics match
  • Post a throwback photo from a previous event, play, concert, or game
  • Showcase an extracurricular club or activity
  • Remember to have fun! Candid content often feels the most engaging. 

4. Respond to every comment.

One of the biggest mistakes schools make on social media is not responding to fans and followers.

Click me

If someone comments on your post, it is imperative that you reply. If fans engage with your school on social media and you don't respond, the little organic engagement you were receiving will likely diminish. Simply "liking" their responses isn't enough, either. Ignoring comments will send a signal to that platform’s algorithm that you are an inactive account, and the channel will in turn be less likely to show your content at the top of the news feed for your followers. So, when you actively engage with comments, more people will see your post and be more likely to comment themselves.

Here, The Post Oak School in Houston, Texas chose to reply to a positive comment from a follower and showed anyone else who comes across the post that they are an active and caring school!

screenshot of Post Oak School social comments

The same rule applies to negative comments. While we all strive for a positive and uplifting space on social media, negativity happens. And when it does, it’s just as important for you to reply as it is for you to engage with the positive comments. If you don’t already have a social media policy in place, it’s great to get ahead of these situations by drafting responses ahead of time that you and your team can use in situations where you need to take a negative comment offline. Here’s a quick example:

“Hi [First Name], we’re sorry to learn about your experience with [situation]. Please contact us directly at [email], and we will work to make this right.”

At the end of the day, your replies prove that there is a real person who cares on the other side of the screen — and that’s huge for your ongoing engagement. Social media is social, after all, and showing that your school is an active member of the community helps when it comes to both prospecting and retention.

5. Follow some basic posting best practices for schools.

Remember: social media is about quality over quantity. That said, consistency also plays a part in your success. Here are some recommended daily practices for the channels we’ve covered:

Core Channels

  • Facebook - 1 post per day
  • Instagram - Ideally 1 post per day, with a minimum of 3 posts per week. Make use of Stories and Reels throughout the week to increase your chances of engagement.

Secondary Channels

  • LinkedIn - 3 posts per week
  • Twitter - 3+ Tweets per day
  • TikTok - 2+ videos per week
  • Once you establish your daily cadence, keep the following tips in mind to increase your chances of engagement.

Think about when your audience is online, and use data to influence when you should schedule your posts.

I have some bad news: There is no magic hour that is universally identified as the “best” time to post. If you think about it, if the same posting time was recommended for everyone, we’d only see social media content during a specific hour each day! You can, however, strategize through the anticipated behavior of those you’re trying to reach.

While you're at work, your students and faculty are in class, and parents are at work, too. Posting during times when they'd be on their phones — like at lunch, after dinner, and on weekends — will likely help your organic reach. 

Always make sure you’re checking in on your insights and analytics, as each channel will note when your followers engage with your content the most. Use this data as your guide, and experiment.

Even if you’re posting the same subject matter across multiple platforms, switch up the content to keep it interesting.

Crafting a single caption and pasting it across each channel will save you time. What you lose with this extra time, however, is the likelihood of engagement. 

Imagine, for example, that one of your Facebook followers sees a post today about your middle school’s upcoming choir concert. They like it, and then later they log on to Instagram and see the same post. They won’t be likely to engage with the same content twice, so they’ll ignore the Instagram post and cost you the engagement that you would have garnered, had you made the content a little more unique. 

When you slightly tweak your content before posting on each channel, you keep it interesting and give your followers something new to see. You can do this by swapping photos or videos, adjusting the caption, or even changing the order of your photos. It takes an extra minute and will make all the difference for your engagement.

Key Takeaway

While social media algorithms change rapidly, one thing is for certain: Quality content that is designed to engage will always come out on top of your followers’ news feeds. The majority of what you post should celebrate your community, ask questions, and encourage conversation. No single platform effectively reaches everyone, so your strategy should prioritize consistency on the channels where you can feasibly have a presence. Social media is meant to be fun, so go for it!

The Complete Social Media Guide for Schools. Download your copy

Kristen Dovespike headshot

In her position as director of demand generation, Kristen provides the strategy and creation of content across email, website, and social media communications at Finalsite. With over six years of experience in content strategy and digital marketing, Kristen has worked with clients around the country to develop their inbound strategies. She regularly speaks at professional development events for schools and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite.

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