In our benchmark report, The State of Social Media Marketing Among Schools, we shared that 75% of schools are using more than four networks. As someone who has been immersed in social media professionally and personally for almost ten years, it easy to say I've grown a love-hate relationship with it. That's because it's always changing — year after year — and for schools using one or more platform, it can seem overwhelming to stay up to date with these changes. For instance, live video became an added feature in almost every social media network in 2017, platforms now offer story features to capture what's happening in the moment, and messaging apps linked to social media became a new way for companies (even schools) to communicate with their audiences online.
Given the frequency of changes, what could social media have in store for this year, and more importantly, how will these updates affect schools? Here are four social media trends I suspect will influence your school marketing goals this year on social media.
The Rise of Ephemeral Content Will Help Engagement
"Ephemeral content" is content that is only available for a short period of time - even as short as mere seconds - then disappears after twenty-four hours. The social media app Snapchat laid the groundwork for this, then Instagram and Facebook stories followed thereafter.
As a school marketer, you may be wondering how this type of content can benefit your overall content marketing strategy on social media if it's short-lived. Well, even though this content goes away quickly, this short-lived content easily engages with your audiences and will make them want to come back for more content from your school.
Here are five reasons it will keep your audience hooked:
- Authenticity - the kind of content that should be fresh and unlike anything else you may already be posting
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) - when users will want to tune in during a specific time or event so they don't miss out
- Behind the Scenes - a great way to get your audience excited about something up-and-coming is giving them a behind the scene look
- Mobile First - with nearly 77% of adults using smartphones, they will not mind watching this content if it's not in high quality or definition
- High Engagement - social media users love visual content over text content on social media so they are more likely to engage with you
Don't worry if your school isn't using Snapchat! Ephemeral content is also being used on Facebook and Instagram through daily stories (and eventually, you'll be able to post to both platforms simultaneously from Instagram). Whether you're on your school's Instagram profile or Facebook business page, both apps make it easy to take a picture, video, or a status message then share it on your story. Ephemeral content will help share fun content about what's currently happening that don't necessarily need to be added to your timeline. At the same time, this content will become another opportunity to increase engagement with your followers on multiple social media platforms. Plus, the content's simplicity means you don't have to be a pro photographer or videographer to make an impact!
Free Report: The State of Social Media Marketing Among Schools
Video Content Will Continue to Soar
As Finalsite's CEO Jon Moser predicted, 2017 was all about video. According to Smart Insights, 90% of all content shared by users on social media was video. This type of content will only become more inclusive on social media and internet as a whole in 2018. According to Cisco, 86% of all web traffic will be claimed by video by 2019. So, where can your school start if you haven't been sharing video content yet?
Schools like Forman School and St. Ignatius College Prep are incorporating video in their own way. For instance, Forman School had an exciting year last year with videos like this being shared on social media that received high engagement. St. Ignatius College Prep is also setting the bar high to what schools can be doing with live streamed video that more schools should try to do this year. Video can easily be taken from someone's mobile device and uploaded to social media, so sharing is only getting easier. Keep in mind the length of the video you do end up posting; videos up to two minutes long get the most engagement, so those first few seconds are critical.
Social Ads Will Be Essential to Reach and Engage With Audiences
We began discussing schools using social ads back in 2016 as we noticed how influential these were on reaching both new and engaged audiences, and on making sure the content schools wanted to share was in front of the right individuals at the right time.
As more users join social media, and more companies invest in video and ads, there's been a big drop in organic reach and engagement. In fact, one study found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Another study suggests that brand pages with more than 500,000 "likes" have organic reach as low as 2%. As we move into 2018, the importance of using social ads will rise as many schools are already doing this.
To have a successful social ad, you must have:
- A clearly defined goal
- A small target audience
- A high-quality, relevant and eye-catching image or video
- A short description of the offer
- One call-to-action
- Links directly to a relevant landing page
Schools should strategically consider their ads based on what's important at the time. Whether it's for an upcoming open house, a new admissions video or a giving event, schools can determine which posts are worthy of being sponsored posts through social ads to reach more audiences, see more engagement, and get the conversions you need.
You Will Want To Share User-Generated Content For Your Followers
Authentic content continues to be essential. According to Nielsen's Global Trust in Advertising report, 83% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 66% trust other consumer opinions posted online. Therefore, user-generated content can be influential, while at the same time providing fresh content on your social media channels.
Instagram in particular now aggregates hashtags and now allows you to follow specific hashtags on the social media platform. This new interface pulls in Instagram stories that include hashtags, top public posts, and most recent public posts. For schools, this will open a wide range of opportunities for user-generated content as users will get to see what others are posting and will make sharing their own content more engaging. This can easily work if your school promotes a specific hashtag, and at the same time, will allow you to easily see how these hashtags are being used and what individuals are sharing.
Schools like American School of Paris and Immaculate High School have already seen success with incorporating user-generated content into their social media strategy. If your school is known for using a branded hashtag, hosting an event or contest, or is looking for a new way to share testimonials on social media, incorporating user-generated content on your school's social media is the perfect approach to get your followers excited about your school.
We saw a lot of changes and updates on social media in 2017 — and as we move into a new year, here's a summary of what to expect:
- You will see ephemeral, short content in more places through apps like Snapchat and social media stories on Instagram and Facebook
- Users will continue to engage more with video content over other kinds of content, so expect to see video continue to take over social media
- Sharing content in general will become more competitive, so consider social ads to target the audiences you want to connect with
- Your audiences will be more influenced by content being written and shared by people just like them so incorporating user-generated content onto your school social media pages will help grow your engagement and interaction with your followers on social media.
Since it's the beginning of a new calendar year, now is the perfect time to evaluate where your social media stands and begin to strategize for the 2018 - 2019 school year. Consider a social media audit to determine the kinds of the posts that see the best engagement, how your school compares to its competitors on social media, and more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing singer/songwriter and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.