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If you are using any of these tools in a creative way to market your school, send me the link to any blog/article you have written about it and I will update my list of resources above.
EMAIL RANDY HERE
To get marketing strategy coaching or social media coaching help for your school, contact Randy for a free 30-minute phone consultation.
Connect with Randy on Twitter: @schoolmktg
Facebook is continuously changing its algorithm that determines what kinds of posts their users want to see in their news feeds. In short, Facebook is using clues from you about what you want to see. Plus, they want to ensure the content from publishing pages like brands, businesses and schools do not smother the posts you see from your family and friends.
Unfortunately, this means that your page may likely see a decrease in engagement and notably web traffic because, in a sense, fewer of your fans are actually seeing the content you post to your school’s Facebook page. To help you beat Facebook’s algorithm, I am offering 7 tips to help ensure your content is seen and not forgotten:
- PAY-TO-PLAY – investing $5, $15, $50 or more into some posts will need to be a regular part of your Facebook strategy. Sure, promotional event posts like Open House dates would be a good play here, but as well, if you have a compelling parent or student testimonial, it would be a good idea to get more people to see this post as well. You may also want to create some targeted Facebook ads for people of a certain city name or age group.
- ENGAGE – as has been the case for a while, Facebook’s algorithm puts a premium on the content from pages where fans react, comment and share. So communicate to your parents and constituents that passive Facebook scrolling doesn’t cut it any more. If they want to help spread the word about your school, you desperately need them to react to the post (they can click on Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry). Encourage them to react with words, too, leaving comments about the posts. And of course, the “granddaddy of them all” is the share feature. This powerfully spreads your post into the news feeds of their friends, creating a powerful word-of-marketing tool in the hands of even the most introverted of users. As if I needed to say it, but engagement is not only on the part of the fan. If a parent, alum or student writes a review or comments on or shares one of the school’s posts, engage with them. Acknowledge their effort and maybe ask a followup question. Engagement is a two-way street!
- SEE FIRST – with one click, parents can opt in to seeing the posts of your school’s posts. Regardless of the algorithm Facebook uses, this puts your school’s posts at the top of their news feeds on desktop and mobile devices. This keeps your best posts from the morning from getting buried before the parent sees it in the evening. [*SEE VIDEO BELOW ON HOW TO DO THIS*]
- GET NOTIFIED – while not every Facebook user religiously checks his/her red circle notifications, many do. You can invite your Facebook page fans to return to your Facebook (on a desktop or laptop, not on a mobile device), hover of the “LIKE” button and you will see the options to “Get Notifications”. This offers yet another way that fans do not miss a single post. [*SEE VIDEO BELOW ON HOW TO DO THIS*]
- USE YOUR GROUPIES – I always advocate selecting your best ambassador parents/alumni to join a secret Facebook group for the purpose of marketing/promotion. You can communicate with this group about events coming up at school but also, whenever you post to the Facebook page, you can write a quick note to this group alerting them of the new page post. No more needing to text everyone or emailing the group. And members of this secret group also receive the red notifications so they will also see you posted something there as well. Because of the secret/private nature of the group, you may even want to specifically direct ways to react to the post such as, “would you please make a comment detailing how this post impacts your son or daughter” or “please leave a comment that includes some details about your favorite teacher or tradition at the school”. Previously, I have written an article about this group, calling it your secret marketing weapon!
- POST OFTEN – the numbers are not in your favor if you limit your page posts to just a few times per week. If Facebook is going to restrict or limit the visibility of certain posts, then having only a few will hurt your chances of being seen at all. If at all possible, look for ways to post daily or even multiple times in a day. You may want to subscribe to features like Buffer or Quuu to help you fill your content calendar. Speaking of content calendar, have your downloaded our FREE SOCIAL CONTENT CALENDAR yet? Click here to get it!
- BE VALUABLE – above all else, make sure your Facebook posts are of value to the end user. Provide helpful content for prospective parents as they look into the various choices for educating their children. As well, because you want to post things that are of value to them personally, consider ways your Facebook page posts can equip them to be better parents, wives, husbands, citizens or ways that encourage their faith through inspirational posts. When you are awesome, your fans will share your awesome content, too!
Click for a free consult to learn about a better way of marketing your school!
** WATCH VIDEO ABOUT INCREASING FACEBOOK ENGAGEMENT**
[ if embedded video does not play, click here to be directed to the Facebook post ]
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL WORKING 1-on-1 WITH RANDY
In a conversation recently with one school, the Communications guy responded to my inquiry of why the Facebook postings were so few lately. His response surprised me.
“It’s summer. Not much going on around here.”
Wrong. I could not have disagreed with this person more and sought to explain why the summer months are not a time for slowdown.
- Some families are still looking and investigating for last minute transfer from the public school to your school. Remain top-of-mind to these folks.
- But more importantly, you have hundred of current families who need to see their school in their news feed. This is crucial for brand exposure in the event any family is having last minute doubts about returning, or better, so they will talk up your school to their friends.
First of all, while not as busy as April, there are no doubt things going on THIS SUMMER. There are also plenty of things you can REPURPOSE from last year, or post about the UPCOMING school year.
Below you’ll find a list of 11 suggested things you should post during what you may call a “slow time”:
Candace Payne’s hysterical viral video, “It’s the simple joys in life…”, recently put Candace on the social media map as the “Happy Chewbacca Lady“. If you haven’t seen the video, you have to stop what you are doing and take 4 minutes and get ready to laugh!
Watch the video on Candace Payne’s Facebook Page or catch it on Reddit.
Naturally, I think many schools may look at a video like this and immediately long for their own “viral video”. The concept of “creating a viral video” is almost impossible, because the true viral test is determined by the reaction of your audience. So stop trying the produce the next trending video and learn some important lessons from the Chewbacca lady. Here are 5 lessons that I think that every school should take away and implement in your marketing every day:
- SIMPLE JOYS – Everyone needs to laugh! As Candace says in the video and every subsequent interview she has had on GMA or The Today Show, it is important for us to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously. Schools are notoriously stale on social media. Have some fun and showcase the lighter side of life at your school. Many of you will remember the fun that the Durham Academy administrator’s had with a snow day announcement back in 2014!
- REAL-TIME – It appears that Candace’s video was truly unplanned and a great example of real-time, spontaneous authenticity. There are moments at your school where something happens during morning announcements, during your weekly chapel time or on the court that you want everyone to see. The lesson is to always have your smartphone on and ready to capture the moment so you can share it with the world (including your prospective parent audience!)
- EVIDENCE – For years, I have told my Christian school clients that they cannot just “talk” about what makes them great, but they have to be able to “showcase evidence” of the marketing claims they make. Candace’s demonstration of the Chewbacca mask is the genius of this video and it is mixed with the contagious emotion of Candace. Emotional videos (tears or laughter) provide the platform to showcase the fruit that your school produces. Thus, video testimonials from parents are great examples of capturing evidence and emotion together in one piece of content. Here are 5 important things your school’s content should do well!
- REPURPOSE – The initial “Chewbacca Lady” video has been viewed millions of times and shared all over every social media channel imaginable. But the marketing lesson is what happens after the video. Think of all the interviews Candace has already done or will do in the coming days and weeks. Learn to repurpose your own great content, recycle it, and extend the life span of your content by giving your audience multiple ways to watch it over and over. If you have a good online review come in from GreatSchools.org, then repurpose it and make a new blog post out of it, post it as an image on Instagram or paste the testimonial alongside your tuition to put your school’s price tag in context of the value parents receive. Learn more about reducing parental “sticker shock”.
- RESPONSE – Candace mentions in the beginning of the video that she found the Chewbacca mask at Kohl’s department store. Then later in the video she reveals that she is not buying the mask for her kids, but keeping it for herself! Well, within hours of the original video going viral, Kohl’s responds and shows up at Candace’s house with masks (and more) for her kids, too! This is a great example of how an organization must stay aware of what is being said about them online. You can create a social media listening station through Hootsuite, systematically check for new online reviews every couple of days, or be aware from your parent ambassador group about what other parents or students are saying about you on various social media channels. When it is appropriate, you can comment on the Instagram post about your school, you can respond professionally to the online review, or you might just show up at someone’s house with a basket full of your school’s spirit wear!
While every organization wishes for a viral video to put them on the map, consistently strong enrollment marketing is more than just one moment in the social media limelight. Smart enrollment marketing is a customized system that is paired with an effective marketing strategy and the right marketing tactics for your school.
We provide customized marketing systems for Christian schools through 2 different ways:
- Our year-long “9-Steps to Marketing Your Christian School” or
- Our accelerated “Enrollment Marketing Roadmap“
Whichever way works best, we would love to help you develop a customized marketing system that is right for your school!
Click here for a free 30-minute phone consultation with Randy!
Randy Vaughn, Christian School Marketing Consultant
I was once invited to be a guest on the “Internet Marketing for Schools” podcast with Brendan Schneider.
Below is a 1 minute excerpt from the podcast where we talk about creating the right kind of social media content.
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If we sing at Christmastime, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” then the month of May may cause you to belt out a chorus, “It’s the Craziest and Busiest Time of the Year!” While this may be true, you must be active online with content that your prospective parents can see, listen to or watch. One of the easiest ways to connect to these audiences is to produce content that other people are already talking about.
As I have done in the past with content ideas for the months of January, February, March and April, here are my Top 10 content ideas for the month of May to help you plan and prepare:
- Teacher Appreciation (first week of May) – you may already organize special gifts and recognition for your teachers, but do not let this be an internal celebration only. Showcase your teachers in your marketing to prospective parents. These front-line warriors are the faces and stories of the individuals who will be caring daily for the children of future moms and dads. And these parents are not wanting to wait until an Open House to meet them. Feature their expertise, education and experience on the website and then share those pages all over social media. Bonus: Happy Teachers Make Great Referrals
- Star Wars Day – on May the 4th, the hallways and social media sites will be abuzz with the familiar greeting, “May the Fourth Be With You”, a clever play on words from “May the FORCE be with you” that sounds similar to this 4th day of May each year. Star Wars remains a cultural phenomenon across all generations at your school, so have some fun with this one!
- Cinco de Mayo (May 5))- not actually celebrating Mexican independence as many think (that’s in September), Cinco de Mayo is a day to recognize the rich culture of Mexican and Hispanic heritage.
- Kentucky Derby (second Saturday in May) – commonly known as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”, this is one a few major national sporting events in May, so you may want to be creative with this one.
- Bucket & Puck Playoffs – with college sports behind us, it’s time for the pros to make a run for the championship of the National Basketball Association and for the Stanley Cup! While the championship events may not occur until early June, these playoff basketball and hockey games will certainly occupy your TV sets and tablets during May.
- Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May) – when it comes to easy content, simply pull out your smartphone and ask your students to say why they love their Mom. Video content like this easy gold! Since it falls on a Sunday, plan ahead so you can share your videos the week leading up to the holiday or at least on the Monday following.
- Chicken Dance Day (May 14)- this silly song gets every moving at weddings, proms, and daddy-daughter dances is the popular song on National Dance Like a Chicken Day! This may seem silly to you, but if you participate, you can show off your fun side and join in on what will definitely be a trending topic on social media. Get up a dance (like a chicken) – if you don’t know how, these elementary kids will show you how!
- Armed Forces Day (middle of May, usually on a Saturday) – Many events across the United States take place on Armed Forces Day to honor Americans in uniform who served their country in times of war and peace. This is a great chance to feature moms, dads, grandparents and other loved ones who have served in uniform. Because it falls on a weekend, post some pictures on Friday or the following Monday.
- Memorial Day (last Monday in May) – Memorial Day is dedicated to service men and women who gave their lives for freedom and country. Engage your families, alumni and especially grandparents about this holiday. Have someone on staff (or a volunteer parent) write about why this holiday is important – then post that article to your website/blog and share it in emails and all over social media. I suspect your web traffic will increase significantly!
- Graduation – whether it’s the culmination of over a decade of school work, or if you are putting cap and gown on a cute little bunch of Kindergartners, graduation is a critical marketing event for your school. I recently wrote an article, “Did you miss these marketing opportunities at your recent graduation?“ that will prompt with you ideas on how to make the most of this mile marker at your school.