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.
- Even if you are full and have closed enrollment, consider that you should already be in RETENTION mode for next year. Absence of any communication does not help you keep families. It alienates them.
- 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”:
- CAMPS – at most schools, there are summer camp experiences that are begging to be documented and showcased. I’m seeing schools with traditional sports camps, but also cheerleading camp, arts camps, and one school with a guitar camp! Some of you are fond of putting these pictures in your Fall newsletter, but you should also post them on Facebook now. Again, current families with kids in the photos love to see their little ones on the screen, and images are often the most shared content on Facebook. And when you’re talking of kids, keep in mind that most of you would like to see your Elementary level enrollment go up, right? Your target market parent is the one with kids at these camps – so post the photos! Oh yeh, and don’t forget to INVITE these future Elementary families to your camp, too – a great recruiting tool!
- STAFFING CHANGES – sometimes during the summer, new hires are added. Don’t wait until Opening Day assembly to announce. Start posting about these new hires now. If and when possible, don’t just settle for one single photo. Have you announced this in a press release? Post the online news release to your FB page as well. Then have the new hire write a “Note” explaining their enthusiasm – or interview them with some fun questions.
- FUN WITH STAFF – in the same light, have some fun with current faculty and staff – ask them questions, do some trivia questions (“who can guess what Mr. Tuft likes to do most on a hot summer day when he’s not thinking about the Fall band competition?” This makes your FB page much more interactive and entertaining for your audience. Have staff submit funny photos of what they are doing during their “time off.” If it hasn’t already happened by the time you post this, don’t forget to run by your nearest 7-11 on July 11th for National Slurpee Day – makes for a fun summer team photo!
- STATS – not as exciting as #3, but dropping in vital statistics about your school help remind current families of your value, but it also speaks into the news feed of prospective families as well. A side note: don’t just think of your “fan” page as all current or alumni families. There are any number of prospective families who are “stalking” (in a nice Christian way) your school – some are actively wanting to se who you are and what you’re about as they make their school decision now. Other prospective families are a year or more away, but these tidbits of information reinforce some of the things they heard at the last Open House or Preview Night. Focus on college acceptance rate, scholarship amounts received by your graduates, # of international students attending, enrollment increases, etc…
- CONTESTS – there are some guidelines with FB about contests and promotions, so you need to examine them. But occasional treats to your fans for liking a status update, or being the first to share a posting from the FB page to their personal profile, or using the “Question” feature – – all of this is to keep your audience engaged and liking your page. Trivia questions about your school make great contest questions.
- ICYMI – this stands for “in case you missed it” – this affords you an opportunity to review some of the highlights of the previous school year. Perhaps it’s a fun reposting of photos from 9 months ago at the Homecoming Dance. Or a video posting from the Band concert at Christmas (posting featured solos attract the attention of proud parents and grandparents who like to share your content on their personal profiles). Maybe a reposting of some of the university plans for recent graduates. Use the latter as an opportunity to post a prayer request for your recently graduated seniors as they go off to college in August.
- TEASE – perhaps there is a big announcement coming this Fall such as a new capital campaign for the much-needed repairs on the Elementary school, a new mission trip schedule for next Spring’s Juniors and Seniors, or a new menu item at the concession stand for Friday night football games! Tease out some information, a partial photograph, or a video announcement from your Headmaster or President. Again, some of this is good PR skills – and your Facebook Page can be your laboratory!
- PRAYER – solicit prayer requests and ask your audience to join in prayer for students and their families who are taking summer mission trips, or about personal challenges for your school’s families (illness, loss, etc.) Again, when prospective families see the community at work, this is part of what turns families toward your school. They are not getting this at the public school – and their church family may not be that strong either.
- EDUCATIONAL – importing some good informational or educational content from your blog or an external source is good high-value content for parents. This is especially important if you can author the article yourself. So post a few articles with provocative titles like “4 reasons why our private school is under assault”, “The Top 5 reasons new families tell us they are making the switch to our school” or anything of that nature.
- FEATURES – you hopefully spent last Spring featuring your graduating Seniors – now you have a new crop of Seniors. While you may do it differently, you can use your FB page to feature this upcoming year’s Senior Class. Maybe a fun interview with these Seniors (no doubt with some hilarious quotes) will put these families front-and-center for the year to come. Again, when your school’s Facebook page makes a big deal about their school’s families, you are differentiating yourself from the public school’s Facebook page!
- NEW FAMILIES – saw one school who is capitalizing on the enthusiasm of new families as they encourage these new enrollees to post of picture of their kids dressed out in some of your school spirit. For some families who have been around a while, they may forget how exciting it is to be accepted into your school!
Once I posted this, I received a comment from Cheri who made some excellent suggestions as well:
“Thank you for the suggestions – So many things can be scheduled so that it doesn’t have to interrupt your summer. I also include things like links to the updated school supply lists, reminders for summer reading and math, some random but interesting holidays (Happy Fried Chicken Day – Go out and celebrate with a picnic! July 6 BTW), dates when the used uniform shop is open, sign up deadlines for camps, summer school, etc.”
There’s a ton more ideas, not to mention encouraging families to post their own photos to the Wall of their summer vacation or service projects. (Remember, when a family does this, it does not show in the News Feed of your fans – but simply go in your status update and write “Return to the Wall to check out the Miller’s photos from their time at the Hope Orphanage in Honduras.”) As well, if you have any late summer admissions preview event, post this as well. And don’t be afraid to spend a little money in boosting posts (events and popular posts that tell a great story).
Even in the summer “slow time”, your Facebook Page should remain active, dynamic and vibrant!
– Randy VaughnBuffer