While social media marketing has been around for nearly a decade, some schools are still struggling to find the time, budget, and resources to build and maintain a sustainable, successful strategy. With multiple target audiences — including current and prospective students and parents, young alumni, athletes, artists, etc. — it is easy for a school to feel overwhelmed by the beast of a project like this, and even more so disappointed by Facebook's decline in organic engagement due to ads.
With social media's complexity more than apparent, one of the easiest social media platforms to tackle with success is Instagram. The strategy is simple: post great photos and videos, every day. While algorithms are in place, they are not as advanced as Facebook's, and that platform is still yet to be a total pay-to-play platform.After being inspired by these five school Instagram profiles, Janet Rubinstein, Communications Specialist at the American School of Paris, reached out in preparation of a new social media campaign they were planning for their students this past summer. Since 32% of teenagers consider Instagram to be the most important social network, there was no question taking this campaign to Instagram was the key to success.
"We wanted to run a photo campaign this summer using the hashtag #RebelsUnitedAroundtheWorld," said Janet. "We wanted to ask our students to take a photo of themselves as they traveled the world this summer, post the photo with the hashtag, and share these photos throughout the summer on our Instagram account."
The campaign recently came to a close as the new school year began, and Janet was excited about the overwhelming success of something so simple. "The campaign was a big success, showing the global reach of our school community while keeping our students, faculty and staff connected in a fun and interesting way during the long summer vacation," she said.
#RebelsUnitedAroundTheWorld is the perfect example of how something simple, like a hashtag, has the power to unite your community and churn out lots of great authentic content. Here are three reasons why all schools should consider doing the same.
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1) You Can Build Brand Awareness Using Social Media
Schools do content marketing to build brand awareness; it is as simple as that. And one of the easiest places to build that brand is on social media. A social media campaign allows your school to social media followers to promote and grow your brand awareness with virtually no effort from you (except brainstorming that unique hashtag, of course!)
In addition to the branded hashtag, the school gave participants a t-shirt to wear in the photos to promote the school. With more than 100 from the summer, the campaign definitely sparked interest among its participants — bringing the ASP brand to the forefront of hundreds — if not thousands — of new prospective students.
"Faculty, administration, and students - even graduating seniors - were invited to take part. All participants received a royal blue 'Rebels United' t-shirt," said Janet. The shirt played an important role in this campaign as it plays a major part in the Rebels United school spirit initiative supported by the ASP Excellence Fund.
'ASP Rebels' is the name of the school's sports teams and as Janet described, the school uses this term as a unique, identifiable and fun way to refer to students and teachers. "They are rebels in that, with a strong education and a goal of personal and academic excellence, they are becoming empowered to make positive changes in the world," said Janet. "ASP Rebels like to question and challenge and enact change-all for the good."
2) Involving School Community Led To Fresh, Authentic Content
We can't express enough how beneficial authentic content is now becoming for your school marketing. While authentic content comes in many shapes and forms, it's most organic form occurs on social media. Allowing an opportunity for your school community to share their own content - from blogs to photos - is another added value to your overall content marketing strategy. American School of Paris facilitated their social media campaign all on Instagram, with the help of individuals who participated. "The ASP community is comprised of over 50 nationalities. Its students demonstrate a wide variety of interests and the propensity to travel, on school and service trips on vacations, and also to simply return 'back home'," said Janet. "During the summer vacation of 2017, our special social media campaign, virtually spanning the globe, highlighted ASP student travel destinations and adventures, both locally and abroad."
By involving the individuals who wanted to participate, it allowed the school to showcase where everyone was over the summer and the different experiences from its own students, faculty, and staff. "It was a fun, cultural journey, allowing students, teachers and staff to share amazing experiences, stay connected to each other despite distances and diverse experiences, and demonstrate to others the global unity, reach and power of ASP Rebels! We've also highlighted digital citizenship, and an atmosphere of fun and respect."
3) Social Media Campaigns Are a New Way to Increase Engagement
Having a good social media presence isn't just about posting content every now and then. You have to remember to engage with your audiences, whether it's through photos and videos, posting at the ideal times when your followers are using social media, or interacting with them using reactions and comments.
By facilitating this campaign over the summer, American School of Paris encouraged engagement from its school community form day one, and it was a simple initiative. "Participants were just asked to share photos of themselves wearing the ASP 'Rebels United' t-shirt, and tell us where they were," said Janet. Since the campaign started in late June, we've had individuals share their photos from France, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, US, England, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Greece and more!"
Since the beginning of the campaign, the school also saw an increase in their following on Instagram. "Our Instagram followers have increased 30 percent since the start of the campaign and our engagement and school spirit is through the roof," said Janet. Now with the campaign over, the school is still keeping the engagement alive as they plan to close out the campaign with some big wins this fall. "We have some prizes coming up for those who participated," said Janet. "Some winning categories include photo taken farthest from our school, the ASP Rebel with the most submissions, most intriguing photo in France, and more. All in all, we saw a great response and thought it was a nice way to raise awareness while staying connected with our community during the summer and then some."
How do your marketing strategies compare? Want to be on our Featured Friday blogs? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your success with social media, the Finalsite platform, admissions, crowdfunding, or content marketing!
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.