Social media can definitely be a frustrating place to invest your precious time and resources. It’s ruled by ruthless algorithms, cute animals in costumes, and influencers with with dreamy, white kitchens. All the while you can’t help but wonder — why isn’t my content getting noticed?
A lack of engagement stems from a variety of reasons, and if you’re making any of the following social media mistakes, you’re going to have an even harder time standing out from the crowd of cute pugs in Hawaiian shirts and idyllic vintage farmhouses. (Don’t worry, we have some simple solutions for you, too!)
Top 12 Social Media Mistakes Hurting Engagement
You’re Not Posting Enough
You’re Posting Too Much
You Don’t Use Stories
You’re Not Using Visuals
Your Visuals Aren’t Engaging
You Don’t Use Data to Understand What Your Community Wants to See
You Don’t Engage With Your Community
You Have Multiple Accounts Instead of Groups
You Don’t Use Ads
Your Content is All About YOU
You Don’t Have a Hashtag
It’s Not Promoted on Your Website
1. You’re Not Posting Enough
The number one rule of social media: post once a day, every day. This rule of thumb stands for all channels — although Twitter in particular encourages posting upwards of ten times per day for optimal engagement rates.
If you’re having trouble coming up with content to post every day, consider the following:
Research social media holidays and join the fun! #NationalBestFriendDay, #NationalPizzaDay, Teacher Appreciation Week — yep, they all can have a place in your school’s social media strategy! Here’s a complete list of social media holidays to pull from.
Schedule your content in advance. This one is a no-brainer. Take 60-90 minutes every Friday and schedule your content for at least Facebook and Instagram for the coming week. (I find it easier to do this on a Friday than a Monday!) There are free and paid versions of scheduling tools like Buffer, HootSuite, and SproutSocial to make your job easier, too!
- Plan recurring content. Athlete of the week, artist of the week, student of the week, alumnus/a of the week ... you name it. No one’s judging you if you sprinkle in 2-3 weekly features — plus, they usually get a ton of engagement!
- Create a social media plan. Of course, if you want to be able to plan content in advance, you need, well, a social media plan. Having content you can count on throughout the year, from #GivingTuesday to big sporting events, can make posting more often easier.
2. You’re Posting Too Much
For some schools, once a day every day is a challenge. For others, they have enough content to post several times a day, every day, on every platform.
How often should you be posting on each platform? The latest research shows:
Facebook: 1-2 times per day
Twitter: 5-10 times per day
Instagram: 1-2 times per day
LinkedIn: 20 times per month (about once per business day)
If you do post two times per day on Facebook and Instagram, stagger your posts far enough apart (think morning and evening) so that they do not compete with each other. If you have even more to share, either spread it out over the course of the week (and weekends!) or, use the “stories” feature for additional content.
3. You Don’t Use “Stories”
Speaking of “stories,” if you’re not using them, you should be! Stories are available on both Facebook and Instagram. These fleeting, short pieces of content disappear after 24 hours (although they can be saved to your “highlights”.) On Instagram, stories often get more engagement than newsfeed posts. For example, you may only get 34 likes on a newsfeed post, but often a couple hundred followers might view your story. This means stories are ideal for engagement, and sharing both off-the-cuff content and promotional content.
While Facebook Stories are still catching on, Instagram Stories are now more popular than Snapchat. (Phew, no more need to add that social platform to your repertoire for Gen Z.) And actually, recent research of Facebook stories in particular shows that using stories in addition to your feed can increase engagement, too!
4. You’re Not Using Visuals
It goes without saying that if you want to increase engagement on social media, you absolutely need to include a visual — whether it be a video, live video, photo, or photo slideshow. Facebook and Twitter algorithms favor content with a native image (an image shared directly via the platform). And with Instagram, well, you don’t have a choice! The platform is 100% visual.
5. Your Visuals aren’t Engaging
Okay, but what if you’re including visuals and you’re still not seeing engagement? Well to be quite frank, maybe your visuals are a tad bit boring. Dark and blurry photos, busy graphics, or even stock photography might blend in and easily be passed over as users scroll through social media.
Here are a few useful tips for making your visual content on social media pop:
Use Canva: This free tool allows you to create gorgeous social media content, no graphic design skills required. It comes complete with a library of fonts and images, or you can upload your own. What I love most about Canva is that it automatically has templates for each social media network, helping you optimize your post as you move from platform to platform.
Use video when you can: Across all social media, video typically performs better. Try incorporating at least one video per week on your social media accounts, even if it’s a simple live video.
Have fun on your stories: Both Facebook and Instagram have a lot of tools, including filters, stickers, emojis, GIFs, and more—that can help make your visual content more engaging. Don’t be afraid to have fun here!
Edit your photos: This is a big one! Not every school has a professional photographer on staff, and even if you do, your photographer can’t be everywhere—which means you should be using your smartphone to capture moments you share on social media. As a photographer, I recommend downloading a free version of Lightroom CC. This tool offers the most flexibility for editing and really has the power to make your photos stand out. I also recommend purchasing a set of Lightroom Presets so that all your photos are edited the same way. Watch the transformation below:
6. You Don’t Use Data to Understand What Your Community Wants to See
Social media platforms provide you with valuable insights into who is viewing your content, where they are located, what type of device they are using, what content they like most, and when they are most active. If you’re not using this data to your advantage, you’re making a huge mistake!
Here are two quick tips for interpreting data:
Demographics: Analyze who engages with you on each of your platforms. Keeping in mind that each demographic uses each platform differently (if at all) can help you focus your strategy. This free on-demand webinar explains how each demographic uses the platform differently.
Content: This is an easy one — whether or not a post gets a high level of engagement has a lot to do with the content itself. If you see one type of post consistently getting more engagement than most, and on the flip side, one type of content not getting any engagement, take this into consideration as you schedule and plan posts.
Want to master your school’s social media strategy? Join us on January 17, 2020 for #SchoolsGetSocial — a virtual day of social media best practices.
7. You Don’t Engage With Your Community
One of the most common social media marketing mistakes schools make is not responding to comments left on their school’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram pages. Facebook in particular favors posts that receive a lot of engagement (comments, likes, shares), and therefore, by not commenting, you’re only hurting your chances of increasing engagement.
Take 15-20 minutes every day to respond to comments on your social media platforms. Even if all you do is “like” a comment — you’re showing your community that your social media is in fact, social. Or, take note from Wayzata Public Schools, who puts a lot of effort into each and every reply — and their community loves it!
8. You Have Multiple Accounts Instead of Groups
Does your school have multiple Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts to promote content for different audiences such as alumni, prospective families, or current families? This might be the biggest mistake you’re making!! Not only does having multiple accounts mean you have to create two, three, or ten times as much content as one account, you are dividing your traffic and competing with yourself. (The only time having multiple accounts really works well is for athletics on Twitter.)
Rather than dividing your social media traffic, try using groups instead. Facebook and LinkedIn are currently the only two social media platforms that offer “groups” — however, on Facebook in particular they can reap big engagement benefits. As Facebook algorithms move to favor “human connections”, content shared in groups, inherently, becomes favored in news feeds. Additionally, as a member of a Facebook Group, you receive notifications about new posts — unlike with pages.
Facebook groups are great for alumni, parent associations, athletics, clubs, or even different grade levels. For more tips and strategies for using Facebook Groups, check out this blog post.
9. You Don’t Use Ads
They say you can’t buy your friends...but on social media, that isn’t necessarily true! If your school’s social media accounts are struggling to earn followers, likes, comments and shares, it might be time to invest in ads.
And if you’re not sure where to start, we can certainly help with that! We’ve helped hundreds of schools improve social media engagement with ads — including these three.
10. Your Content is All About YOU
Have you ever had one of those friends or colleagues that only asks for favors and never offers help in return? They are the worst! No one likes a person, or brand, that only knows how to say “me, me, me!” and “Can you? Will you?” Sure, its okay to make an ask every once in a while. But if all you do is ask, and you never make an effort to share something of value in return, people feel frustrated and annoyed.
All good relationships are a two-way street — including the relationships that you build on social media. There are a few different social media content strategies, including the 4-1-1 rule and the 60-30-10 rule that suggest “asking” someone to give, apply, attend an event, or download a piece of you content, is just a piece of the strategy.
The 4-1-1 Rule: This rule suggests that you should follow a cadence of one repost and one self-serving post for every four pieces of original, helpful, entertaining or educational pieces of content.
The 60-30-10 Rule: Similarly, this rule suggests that 60% of your content should be something engaging that people can react to, comment, and share. 30% should be content you share from other pages. The last 10% is where you promote your school and its events.
In both cases, these content strategies suggest that your social media content should be a mix of content that promotes your school and engages your community.
11. You Don’t Have a Hashtag
This is one of those simple fixes that really has the potential to kick your social media strategy up a notch! Adding a hashtag to your strategy makes it easy to find authentic content you can re-share to your own social media, and encourages your community to share your brand on their personal accounts.
12. It’s Not Promoted on Your Website
Integrating social media into your website increases the chances of your content being seen — especially if you have a particular page (such as a parent or student portal) you know gets visited daily. Use a social media integration tool like Finalsite Feeds to aggregate content from all your social media accounts and/or hashtags into a centralized location.
In addition to promoting on your website, you can also promote your social media content via email. Holton-Arms School promotes their Instagram account at the bottom of their weekly newsletters by sharing a screenshot of a recent post.
Social media is constantly evolving — so who knows, maybe in another year some of these “mistakes” will be best practices. But, that’s why it’s important to constantly research and evolve your strategy, set new goals, and make new plans. If you’re looking to improve your school’s social media strategy in the new year, join us for #SchoolsGetSocial, a virtual social media event to educate school marketers on the latest social media strategies.
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 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.