Social media can be exhausting. Knowing when to post, how much to post and what to post is a cyclical series of questions that seems to keep the answers just out of reach. While there are tried and true tips and tricks to maximizing engagement, a school’s marketing lead can have varying degrees of success through these channels.
While social media is a valuable asset to a school’s storytelling efforts, there are additional channels for effective communication. If you’re getting tunnel-vision or kicking the ground about low engagement or lack of original content, we have a few strategies you can use to fill those gaps and revitalize your school’s marketing strategy.
1. Lead with student voice. Families and school communities want to see what students are working on. With this in mind, you can select student ambassadors, have students help with the school’s newsletter or make a point to display student work in the community. Not only is this a great marketing technique, but it also dramatically increases student engagement and learning. There are various ways to let students lead: ranging from student-led conferences to exhibitions of student work. This also enables students to solve real-world problems that extend outside of the walls of the classroom and into the community—a great way to symbiotically project the school’s brand and connect the community.
2. Identify local business partners. We’ve noted many schools in the last few years that are making a push towards real-world learning. This trend implies increased conversations between schools/districts and local business owners. Because this line of communication may be underway in your community, this bridge between schools and local businesses could be an easy relationship to continue to nurture. If the foundations for these relationships have not been laid, it is worth identifying key stakeholders, or businesses that have a large impact on students—either from a workforce perspective or a product perspective. Depending on the size of your school’s community, local business owners can oftentimes be parents of current or potential students. It’s remarkable what word of mouth can do.
3. Hold community events. Events are a great opportunity to gather with your community and allow students to show what they know. Consider leaning on some of your local business partners (mentioned above) for a change of scenery and using an offsite location. If the goal of your event is to boost enrollment and your school is a place that shows off its successes well, host it there. Prospective parents will love to envision their child walking the halls, and prospective students will benefit from the added comfort of being familiar with the space.
4. Use your school website as a channel. School websites are essential. Optimizing your school’s website should be the first thing you do when looking at improving your marketing efforts. Making user experience as intuitive as possible, and the mission/values of your school as clear as can be, is one of the fastest ways to boost enrollment. Also, if your site is not mobile-friendly, optimizing it for mobile can make a world of difference with regards to enrollment rate, retention rate and general engagement. Studies have shown exponential mobile-browsing growth in the past five years, and predict that more is to come. As of January 2019, DataReportal reports that 48% of internet usage was from mobile devices, contrasted with 26% in 2014.
Your school website can be more than simply a place for enrollment. Start a blog that discusses the goings-on in the school. A pipeline of information that the school considers important is a great way to keep parents in the loop and engaged. The site can also be the home to parent testimonials, student spotlights, event calendars and more. It can provide a familiar hub to current and prospective parents alike.
5. Newsletters. I know, including newsletters is kind of cheating. Is a newsletter social media? For this post…no. Newsletters are the most foolproof way to reach parents, community members and families of potential students. The most important part of a newsletter is to make sure it is valuable, to not send them too frequently and to make sure you are:
- Updating your subscribers with news that is pertinent to them.
- Emailing with a clear call-to-action. This means using language, buttons, sign-ups and surveys, to give your subscribers exactly what they need so that you can get exactly what you need.
One of the best ways to make sure that your content is always relevant is to segment your newsletter into various groups using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like MailChimp. Not everyone on your list needs to stay privy to all of the news items/information that your school has to offer. As a result, you can intelligently sort your subscriber pool into prospective families, current families, business partners, community members, etc.
6. Do your research. Word of mouth is a huge benefit (or downfall). Parents are likely to trust the word of other parents. As a result, it can be exceedingly helpful to gather data on the opinions of your current families through a brief and to the point survey. Should these results be favorable, these can be turned into testimonials and used as value propositions on the website. If they are not favorable, you will have a starting point to address pain points other parents may be facing and can market directly to these fears/weaknesses.
For more, see:
- 6 Steps to a Successful School Marketing Plan
- Building Your Brand On Social Impact
- Cause Marketing for Educators, Edupreneurs and Students
Interested in working with an experienced communications team at the forefront of innovations in learning? Email Taylor to learn more about how we can best support you on your journey.
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