You know that social media is a great way to market your school and attract more students. But when you’re already busy running a school, managing Facebook and Instagram seems like a lot of work you just don’t have time for.
But what if you could learn how to use social media to reach more people without having it take over your to-do list? With the latest social media tools and the right content, social media can do a lot of the work for you. By investing just a few minutes in post creation, you can expand your reach far beyond what would be possible manually.
Here, we’ll walk you through all the basics of how to promote a school on social media, including the functions of paid and organic posts and the importance of time-saving tools to keep your social media marketing strategy on track.
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Choose a primary channel
When you’re new to social media marketing, it’s hard to juggle several platforms several at once. Start by focusing on one, then expanding once you’ve got the hang of it.
Facebook is a good “starter” platform because it has the largest reach, drawing almost 70% of American adults. Instagram is also a strong contender, especially among the younger set. Around 67% of 18 to 29-year-olds and 35% of teenagers use Instagram, as of late 2019.
Whichever channel you choose, you’ll have two options for content: paid and organic (free). Let’s look at free content first, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram.
Building community with organic posting
Organic posting is any social media post that you don’t have to pay for. When you post a picture of your championship soccer team on your Instagram or share the flier for your upcoming fundraiser on your Facebook page, that’s organic posting.
Organic posts mostly get seen by your friends and followers. That includes your school community — students, families, faculty, and staff — plus the occasional applicant who’s learning about your school’s culture.
The main way organic posts get in front of new audiences is when one of your followers shares with their friends. Organic won’t be your primary channel in terms of marketing, but it’s a great way for your school community to become ambassadors.
Maximizing the reach of your social posts
Facebook prioritizes organic posts that spark meaningful connections and earn lots of comments and shares. Your goal in creating social posts should be to encourage comments and sharing.
Try some of these social media engagement tactics:
- Ask questions. Make them easy and fun to answer, like “What are you doing over winter break?” or “Alumni, what was your favorite prom moment?”
- Invite congratulations. A picture of a group, teacher, or student who just won an award is a great way to get family and friends to share their own “Great job!” messages.
- Link to online events. A lot of schools are adapting to COVID-19 by bringing student performances, fundraisers, and other events online. By sharing those links via organic social posting, you make it easier for community members to spread the word.
Social posting and monitoring tools
You don’t have to manage your school’s social media accounts all by yourself. With Constant Contact, you get a user-friendly social media dashboard that lets you plan and schedule all of your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn posts all in one place.
Your social dashboard is also a central location where you can review and respond to all of your messages, comments, and mentions on Facebook and Instagram. With a dashboard tool, you can keep conversations going on your posts without having to constantly check each separate account.
Reaching new audiences with paid ads
If you want to get in front of brand-new audiences, you need to add paid advertising to your social media strategy.
Why paid ads matter
Social media, particularly Facebook, prioritizes posts from friends and family. They’ve scaled way back on promoting posts from businesses — and yes, your school counts as a business. Even your followers might not see all of your organic posts.
With paid ads, you can be sure that people will see what you post. You can even decide who sees them.
Not everyone is in the market for education. Your audience will be mostly parents and students, with perhaps some aunts, uncles, and grandparents thrown in for good measure, and they’ll mostly be in your local area. Facebook targeting lets you pay to advertise specifically to these audiences.
You can choose, for example, to show your ad to parents between the ages of 30 and 45, or to teenagers who are interested in field hockey. Constant Contact makes it easy with a user-friendly Facebook Ads tool, which has a simpler interface and is easier to understand than Facebook’s native Ads Manager.
When families are looking for schools, they do a lot of research. They’ll visit websites, check out reviews, browse social media pages, and more. It’s easy for any school to get lost in the shuffle, but you can stay in touch with those comparison shoppers by using social media retargeting.
Retargeting is a way of getting back in touch with people who have visited your website. The easiest way to do it is via Facebook, which gives you a little piece of code to include on your site. If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself, your school’s site engineer or a Facebook Marketing Partner will be able to help.
When people visit your website, this piece of code takes note, and can add people to a custom audience group. You can then design Facebook ads specifically for these groups. For example, if you want to promote your athletic program, you can build an audience of people who checked out your athletics pages and promote an open house event with your athletic director right to them.
It’s all about gearing your promotional material to the needs of your potential students. Social media does that better than almost any other channel out there.
Now that you’ve learned how to use free posting and paid ads to promote your school on social media, you can start to develop a strategy. For inspiration, take a look at The Download, our complete guide to digital marketing for schools.
If you haven’t already, decide on a primary channel, then start planning your first posts. Maybe your first organic post will be a shout-out to a teacher, student, or club. Or maybe you’ll focus on paid ads to recruit for the next semester. Your next graduating class is out there, and they’re waiting to hear from you.