LinkedIn is commonly referred to as the "professional" social media network — best known for its role in networking opportunities, professional development tips, and business updates. For this reason, we often hear schools and districts question if it's a necessary piece of their social media strategies. My answer is always this: While channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are no-brainers for reaching and engaging with your community, LinkedIn is nothing to ignore.
When you think about it, everyone from your faculty to your alumni are on this professional channel. With it, you can:
- Grow your school’s connections across different alumni, parents, faculty, and staff.
- Build brand awareness for your school or district
- Provide an open forum for discussion and conversation with your school community
- Share business-related news about your school or district to enhance your brand
- Post related jobs and opportunities for your school or district to recruit more qualified faculty and staff
That's a lot to miss out on if you don't incorporate LinkedIn into your strategy! So, let's roll up our sleeves and get to know this channel.
Before we dive in, let’s review some common LinkedIn terms schools should know:
Company Page: This is the profile for your school or district, which showcases your information and updates (posts). Here’s a great example from Brentwood School:
There will not be a single login to access and edit this page. Much like Facebook, you will need to appoint admins on LinkedIn to manage your page.
Company Details: In this area, you can share information about your school or district, including your website, location, year founded, company type (so for schools and districts, this would be a category related to the education industry), and company size (aka the number of employees). Below is what’s noted for Brentwood School:
If this is your first time building your school or district's Company page, simply add your logo as your profile image, choose a cover image, and fill out these Company details to start.
Other terms to know:
- Mention Just like Facebook and Twitter, you can “mention” others in your LinkedIn updates using @ + name.
- Connection: When using LinkedIn as a user and not as a business, this is a term that means you and a person are connected to each other.
- Groups: These can be public or private, and can be created by an individual or company. It allows users to come together and talk about a specific subject on one page.
- Featured Groups: These are groups that can be spotlighted directly on the homepage of your company page.
- Influencers: These are the type of users on LinkedIn that mostly related to your industry and provide relevant content your followers may also be interested in.
- LinkedIn Today: A common area on the platform for all of your industry news in one place.
Building Your Following on LinkedIn
A great Company Page is just the start! LinkedIn offers significant reach, but you need to build a following to start seeing results.
Encourage Members of Your School Community to Follow Your Page/Join Your Groups
Consider the audiences that fall under your school community — current students, alumni, faculty, administrators, parents, and community members. Now, consider the current landscape of LinkedIn. Over half of all U.S. adults with college degrees are on the platform, and 87 million Millennials actively spend time on it. A significant amount of your community members are no-doubt on this platform. So make sure you engage with them!
Think about doing the following:
- Request all of your faculty and staff to list your school or district as their place of work on their personal LinkedIn pages. Like most channels, LinkedIn is first and foremost a peer-to-peer network, and simply adding Company Pages to personal profiles can make all the difference.
- Include featured content from your LinkedIn page as a snippet in your email newsletters — and provide a “read more” button to bring them to the full piece of content on your LinkedIn page.
- Add the LinkedIn icon in your website footer to make it easy to access your LinkedIn page.
- Create LinkedIn Groups just as you would Facebook Groups and invite relevant members of your school or district's community.
- Incorporate Finalsite Feeds into your website. When integrating LinkedIn into your Feeds, you can pull in the content from your school’s LinkedIn page (though this feature is not available for content posted in Groups).
Stick to a Consistent Posting Cadence
As with any social media platform, LinkedIn operates under an algorithm that determines how likely your content is going to be useful to other members. To increase the chances of your content being seen, we here at Finalsite recommend adhering to a consistent posting schedule.
Similarly to Facebook and Instagram, you should aim to post at least once, but up to two times, per day on LinkedIn. Unlike other channels, however, engagement based on the time you post can vary. LinkedIn truly is a professional network, so it's more common for users to be on the platform during the workday. The best thing you can do to gauge the "best" posting times is to simply test a few out and see which time outperforms the rest!
Types of Content Get Engagement
Compared to other social media networks, LinkedIn generally sees a specific tone of voice throughout most posts. Longer-form captions are OK, and your content should be as useful as possible to the reader.
Here are a few ideas for your own LinkedIn strategy:
Share News Related to Your School or District
Think of everything that happens in a single school year. Whether it's an upcoming capital campaign, new scholarship opportunity, developing programs — or, this year, a major shift to distance learning — news and updates are some of the top pieces of content to share on your page and in your groups.
One impactful way to get your news out there further is to use hashtags. And I know what you may be thinking: "LinkedIn is a professional channel. Why would I use something casual like hashtags?" It's a valid point. LinkedIn only recently brought back hashtags after taking them away a few years ago. The shift that we're seeing today is that hashtags have become a useful way to categorize content and expand overall reach, as users search by and follow these specific terms. So, the practice that was once unique to Twitter now has a place on professional platforms!
Misericordia University recently encouraged the use of hashtags on LinkedIn to gather content from the community about their virtual graduation celebrations.
And here, they use LinkedIn to share the progress of their new indoor court — appealing to alumni, parents, and potential students alike.
Focus on Alumni Spotlights and Success Stories
Some of the most shareable content features the successes of your community. For LinkedIn, this is your opportunity to spotlight what alumni are up to. Have they been promoted at their jobs? Have they accomplished something out of the ordinary? This not only is a great chance to feature their successes but to also place your school or district in a positive light.
Detroit Country Day School is hosting weekly virtual Q&As with members of their alumni, using LinkedIn to share a quick preview that brings you to their YouTube video. This is a fantastic way to offer a human feel on your LinkedIn page while remaining helpful and professional!
There are many ways to keep alumni engaged based on the content you’re posting. For alumni, you can also share information about upcoming events, career networking opportunities, and the latest developments at your school.
Share Updates from Your School or District Leaders
Part of the appeal of LinkedIn is getting professional updates from thought leaders. Orange Unified School District often does this by sharing messages from the district’s superintendent.
Don't forget about faculty recruitment!
Many users turn to LinkedIn to search for new career opportunities. Schools and districts, too, can use the platform to promote any new jobs within their organization. One option is to plan for opportunities to appear in the "Jobs" section of your page, which users can also find by searching through LinkedIn's Jobs platform. This is a paid option, so you do set a budget and plan for a specific timeline to run your ad.
The other option is to simply promote the job opening in your organic posts, like International School of Brussels does here:
Use LinkedIn Groups to Share Specific Content with Your Target Audiences
Groups are the best way to organize and share your LinkedIn content with your followers as they allow schools to keep followers interested and helps them stay updated in one place. They can be featured on the main page of your school’s profile to drive traffic, but they’re also searchable across LinkedIn. Your groups can focus on specific audiences, like alumni, faculty, parents, etc. You can even make groups based on contacts within certain locations, as Taft School does here.
Consider Group Privacy Settings
Having your groups be private may be best practice if you plan to share sensitive information to those specific groups. However, there will be a “Request to join” button for outside members to join. If you choose to make your group private, we recommend writing a brief summary about the group, and include the types of content and conversations shared, and any requirements for joining. Taft does this well.
Use LinkedIn to Connect with Your Alumni
When an individual creates his or her LinkedIn profile, they have the option to select their education history, which plays a key role in identifying your school’s alumni network on LinkedIn. School professionals who work specifically with alumni or fundraising efforts can use LinkedIn to connect with these individuals, learn more about what they’re up to, and share the latest happenings at the school itself that alumni may be interested in hearing more about.
For example, Zurich International School features its alumni network throughout its LinkedIn page by pulling in the number of individuals who are considered alumni (over 1,500!).
LinkedIn also provides great alumni insights with data breaking down where individuals are located, where they work, and what they do.
Schools and districts should approach LinkedIn with the same energy as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. With a massive user base and overall unique reach, this channel can help you connect with alumni, faculty, staff, and parents in a fresh way that other channels do not offer. By sharing relevant, professional content on your school’s LinkedIn page and being active in your LinkedIn groups, you can help boost your organic presence and expand your community. I encourage you to consider this important piece of your social media strategy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In her position as Inbound Marketing Manager, Kristen provides the strategy and creation of content across email, website and social media communications at Finalsite. With over five years of experience in content strategy and digital marketing, Kristen has worked with clients around the country to develop their branding, SEM, SEO, social media, and inbound efforts. She holds and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite