SEO for Private Schools - Part 3: Using Social Media

SEO  for Private Schools - Part 3: Using Social Media
Social media for private K-12 schools is a bit different from social media for businesses. Some tips and strategies here.

The way we use social media in the private K-12 school setting is a bit different from the way social media is used by businesses. Businesses are looking to develop a client list from their social media efforts. They need clients in order to sell them their products and services. Private schools, on the other hand, seek to promote their community to attract new families and students. Let's look at some more differences and also some strategies and techniques that will help make your school's social media program successful.

Dedicate resources to social media.

My first bit of advice is simple but really quite necessary: devote some resources to your social media program. Your school's website used to be the only front door your school had. It was the first thing people saw. Now it is the first thing parents or anybody over the age of 40 will see. Facebook and YouTube are your new front doors for folks under the age of 30.

This video gives you a comprehensive overview of social media and what it can do for your school.

You have never been casual about creating your catalog, have you? Remember catalogs? Your catalog and other printed materials you give prospective families are always professionally produced, aren't they? They also cost a fortune, don't they? Your social media deserves the same professional approach. Therefore, allocate staff time and money in your operating budget for social media. That way, you will get the best results.

Social media works the same as any professional, well-crafted publicity materials.

Develop an editorial calendar so that your postings are organized and have some consistency and purpose. Your school year has its own unique rhythm to it. Anchor your postings around those milestone events and happenings. For example, if Grandparents' Day is the 3rd Wednesday in October, you would start a few weeks before with some posts about previous years' Grandparents' Days. Then, build the excitement as the day gets closer. That's why you need professionals handling social media. It takes time, planning, and flawless execution. Leaving social media to a staff member with dozens of other responsibilities on her plate is probably not a good idea. This short video will help you understand what is involved with developing a social media marketing plan.

Furthermore, depending on what you and your board are trying to accomplish, you might be able to hire a part-time person with experience in social media. 20-25 hours per week devoted to social media might work for your school. I know that this can be done part-time in certain situations because I currently curate the Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts for our local classical music radio station. I devote about 10-15 hours a week to that work. Our objective is somewhat similar to yours in that we seek to expose the station to as wide an audience of listeners as possible. Ultimately, we want to convert those listeners into sustaining members.

Solicit stories with photographs from your community.

While you need to retain control of the editorial side of things, ideally, your content should come from your school community. Use your house meetings and faculty and staff meetings to explain what is needed and the mechanics of how to submit materials. Build a pipeline of materials so that you always have something to post.

Post regularly.

We follow just about every school with a Facebook page here at Private School Review and Boarding School Review. As a result, I see their postings every day. Probably only 5% of the schools we follow post on Facebook regularly. In my opinion, the schools that don't post regularly miss out on valuable ongoing publicity. Free publicity, too. Set up a schedule that works for your school and its resources. Perhaps posts on Friday are all you can afford. But start with that, and then work up to daily postings.

Create value with your postings.

Like allocating resources to social media, creating value is very important in social media. What do I mean by value? The best example I can think of is the person you know who rambles when he talks. He wanders all over the conversational map and rarely says anything important or substance. Contrast him with someone you know who brings focus and insight to his conversations—the same thing with social media. Be strategic - again, that's why you need an editorial calendar - and have focus. Make your point or tell your story without rambling. If 6 photos will tell the story and you have 26 photos, then go with 6 photos. This video explains how to drive engagement with your Facebook posts.

Encourage every school community member and your alumni/alumnae to 'Like' and 'Follow' the school.

This one takes time. This is especially true with the older folks. I put anybody over the age of 45 into the older folks category. But even older folks are discovering what fun it is to open their Facebook page and see a beautiful album of photos of their beloved school. Memories are very powerful tools when you are reaching out to alumni. Sharing those memories on Facebook and through that medium with their old classmates will keep your school in front of them more consistently and perhaps more frequently. Your development staff will appreciate that.

Sharing is also how you develop something called 'Reach'. In social media jargon, 'reach' is all the folks who 'like' your page plus all their 'likes'. In other words, you have one fan and all her fans. You just never know who might end up seeing your Facebook postings.

Use Twitter for news flashes.

Twitter is terrific for instant stuff like a weather announcement or sports scores. I love following school tweets on Wednesdays and Saturdays when most athletic activity occurs. You get a real sense of the excitement. It's almost like being there as the tweets pop up one after the other.

Use Facebook for substantial, expanded news.

Facebook is very effective for telling a story in a compelling manner. Use some great photos to tell your story. Suggested topics include academics, extracurriculars, and sports. Your Facebook sections devoted to each topic should be complete and detailed in each case. Parents will drill down through these sections as part of their due diligence. Highlight successes. Spotlight methods that are unique to your school. Share traditions. Let Facebook tell your school's story.

Use Pinterest for things the school likes and stands for.

Pinterest? It is one of the newer social media sites. I rather like the way you can group things you like. For a school, I can see it being used for groups of schools your graduates have matriculated to or perhaps a list of successful alums. You are limited only by your imagination in how you use Pinterest or any social media, for that matter.

To recap: allocate some resources to social media to maintain control and get the best results. Results? How about tens of thousands of people learning about your school? Without spending a fortune. Those are pretty good results and can be achieved quickly - 3-6 months.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @privateschoolreview

#privateschool #SEO

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