• General Best Practices
Social Media Strategies for Reaching and Engaging Millennials
Mia Major

With 50% of millennials using social media to research products and brands prior to purchase, and another 30% of millennials engaging with brands at least once a month, social media is where millennials spend a lot of their time. And making the most of that time is critical to your success in attracting and engaging millennial parents.

How Millennials Use Social Media: A Network Breakdown

In general, millennials are active across all social media, having grown up with it. In fact, 83% millennials are still active on Facebook, and they account for some of the top usage on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, too.


Millennials are still active Facebook because, aside from Myspace, this was the generation’s first real social networking platform. Today, brand engagement comes second to family and friend engagement with millennials, as millennial moms in particular use the platform to seek advice and guidance, especially when it comes to purchases and parenting. 

What this means for your strategy:

Because millennials are active on this social media network, it is beneficial for sharing content with current families. If your goal is to reach new millennial parents, become a part of the conversation and provide helpful, authentic content, rather than use a form of traditional advertising. 

For example, instead of investing in a paid ad to drive open house attendance, you might invest in promoting a helpful guide, blog, or eBook that relates to parenting and education. Positioning yourself as a trustworthy expert is key to winning millennial engagement.

avon old farms facebook post of blog


In general, Instagram is an excellent social media network to engage current and prospective families with the use of high-resolution images and engaging videos.

With 40% of millennial women saying that Instagram is the best platform to reach them and engage with them, this is one social media network you don’t want to neglect — especially because 85% of millennial moms have the buying power in their household.

Like Facebook, millennial moms use Instagram to seek advice. But, instead of soliciting that advice from family and friends, they seek it from influencers they can relate to. Keeping in mind that millennials are more likely to trust experts (who happen to be strangers) than advertisements, consider how your school can use the voices of your current community to influence the opinions of your prospective community.

What this means for your strategy:

If you want to reach millennial moms where they spend their time, invest in an Instagram strategy. However, because millennials crave authenticity and see through traditional advertising, focusing on storytelling, rather than advertising, will be key to winning their trust.

Instagram - Portsmouth Abbey


Because millennials do like quick, engaging snippets of content, it is easy to see why Twitter is still extremely popular among this demographic. With nearly 40% of millennials using Twitter, and 81% of those millennials checking their Twitter at least once a day, this generation likes quick bites of content; they snack all day instead of sitting down for a full meal.

Most important to schools, however, is that Twitter reports that the majority of its users (80%!) are “affluent millennials” — a demographic most private schools are desperately trying to reach.

What this means for your strategy:

Twitter is a great place to reach full-paying families. Additionally, the cost-per-click on ads on this social media network are often much less than Facebook and Instagram, helping your ad dollar go father. When it comes to content, think about how you can inform and engage your community, by sharing up-to-the minute updates and responding to questions.

lawrence school tweet

What about YouTube and Pinterest? 

While YouTube and Pinterest are often seen as social media networks, they are actually search engines. So when you are crafting a social media strategy, they are outliers in the sense that yes, they are important, but they require a completely different approach than any other kind of network. Millennials — millennial dads in particular — spend a lot of time on YouTube, while millennial moms spend a lot of their time on Pinterest.

What this means for your strategy:

If pursuing Pinterest and/or YouTube, your school needs to treat each video almost like a website page — optimizing it for search and the keywords you want to rank for. 

The Value Proposition Equation

Value, trustworthiness, and authenticity are key to winning engagement on social media and breaking through the noise with this quick-to-judge generation.

The Value Proposition Equation

This is a strategy that transcends all marketing efforts, but is particularly important on social media, as it is a place where your school as the opportunity to re-instill the value (and cost) of your education 24-7.

According to Pat Bassett, former NAIS president and owner at Heads Up Educational Consulting, “In the private school sector, price continues to rise, and inherently makes the value decrease. Unless the outcomes are better articulated or improved, the rise in price will always decrease the value.”

Social media can help aid this because it provides schools a platform to engage with those parents on a more fluid and conversational basis. For example, Ellington Public Schools, has an innovative approach to social media that many private schools are yet to adapt: ask teachers to share photos and videos as to what is happening in the classroom every day. Their strategy allows parents — working, millennial parents in particular — to get a glimpse into what their kids are learning every day. Imagine the power that would have in the private school world, as you need to sell value and justify costs.

Crafting a Social Media Strategy that Engages Millennial Parents

Social media plays a role in enrollment, retention, and advancement. Because of its role during different stages of the funnel, often, schools lean towards creating numerous different accounts — like three or four Instagram handles for one school.

This is confusing, splits engagement, and often leads to inconsistent branding and messaging. Millennial parents, who are already bombarded with the “noise” of social media, prefer a simplified, streamlined approach.

To engage millennial parents, your school really needs just three things:

1. a goal-oriented social media plan;

2. content that breaks through the noise; and

3. good reviews.

1. Create a Goal-Oriented Social Media Plan

If your goal is recruiting new, full-pay millennial parents, your strategy is going to be completely different 

We recommend following this 10-step guide to creating your school’s goal-oriented social media plan.

2. Create Content that Breaks through the Noise

This is without a doubt, the most difficult component. With millennials, the content you post has to be what we call, “thumb-stopping good.” It needs to be visually engaging, add value, and tell a story. 

You need to remember that millennial parents are engaging with hundreds of brands, and thousands of pieces of content every single day. In order for yours to be seen, you need to follow some rules of engagement:

  • Be Consistent: Social media algorithms favor brands who post consistently, which can work in your school’s advantage if you don’t have a big social ad spend. However, being consistent with branding, colors, voice and tone across all social media platforms strengthens your brand.
  • Respond in a Timely Fashion: Millennial parents in particular depend on social media for “customer service,” and expect a response to their comments and questions across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Get Visual: Millennial parents are a generation that prefers video and photos over text. If you’re wondering how to incorporate visuals that get engagement, read this blog on the three types of social content that always get engagement.
  • Don’t just always “Ask”: Don’t only use social media when you need to ask for something. Because millennials depend on social media for advice and news, your strategy should adapt to that. Write helpful blogs for your millennial parents, and frequently post news events to keep them in the loop.
  • Don’t Sell a Product, Sell Stories: While millennials care about authenticity above all else, they also have F.O.M.O (Fear of Missing Out). This means that when you show other children succeeding at your school, rather than telling, it is both more believable and impactful.
the independence school instagram example
  • Use Paid Ads: While millennials can see through most ads, when it is a piece of content or brand they are interested, they will engage. Paid ads are great for helping you reach new audiences, get their attention, and keep it.
  • Use Influencers and get your community involved: Because we know millennials depend on their friends, families, and complete strangers for advice and suggestions, your school can use this to their advantage. Enlist a group of millennial parents at your school who are happy with their child’s experience, and ask them to share content on their personal pages that you’re sharing. These brand evangelists can also post in community groups to share their believable, authentic experiences with other parents your brand might not get in front of otherwise.

3. Good Reviews

Online reviews are becoming more and more important to schools, but are particularly important for engaging this millennial demographic who depends on online reviews for decision-making.

Having good reviews is particularly important on Facebook, as the social media giant serves up your competitors right on your Facebook page. So, if you don’t have good reviews (or no reviews at all) millennial parents can easily begin researching your competitors.

rumsey hall facebook %22related pages%22 example

Having trouble getting reviews? Ask your community! Because millennials are more likely to share positive feedback than negative feedback, you can reach out to your community to ensure your school’s Facebook is filled with positive, authentic reviews, stories, and experiences. 

If your school needs help with obtaining and managing online reviews, our consulting team offers online review management, to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward on social, and in search.

Key Takeaway

Millennials are active on social media, and depend on it for news, advice, and conversations. If your school wants to attract, recruit, and retain millennial parents, having a consistent and authentic social media presence is key.

download your free copy: 2020 social media guide for schools


Mia Major

As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia shares innovative and helpful content that helps schools and districts create captivating online experiences that increase brand awareness, student and faculty retention, and school-to-home communications. With more than five years experience in the industry, Mia has written more than 200 articles, eBooks, and reports about best practices for schools on a variety of topics from social media to web design. As a former TV and news reporter, and wedding photographer, Mia specializes in sharing how to use storytelling to power your school's admissions funnel. When she isn't busy creating content or hosting her #LIKEABOSS Podcast for FinalsiteFM, you can find her hiking with her Boston terrier, running an army wives meeting at Fort Campbell, or enjoying a well-deserved savasana on her yoga mat.

  • Marketing/Communications
  • Social Media
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