From The Yield, Winter 2013
by Stephen Ritchie, Co-founder, Proof Group | edSocialMedia
It is no secret that it is important to make social media part of your strategy for recruiting and retaining students. As the growth of the social web, and particularly the visual web, has exploded, it has become reasonable to expect that if you are interested in learning about a school you should be able to find content that goes beyond the brochure.
People want to feel what it’s like to be a member of your community. From understanding the kinds of relationships they may form with teachers to what it’s like to compete on the playing field — your prospective families want to develop that mental picture as they assess school fit.
Social media was made for this. It provides the opportunity to share your school’s stories across a variety of platforms in near real-time. But a few constants of good content remain — your efforts to show the story must be authentic, entertaining, and well-crafted, and you must have a strategy for creating and sharing the content that is consistent with your school’s overall culture and goals.
1. One Size Does Not Fit All - Look at what your peers are doing, but don’t focus on mirroring it. You have to find an approach and create content that works for your school and your community. You do that by sharing authentic experiences from your campus. Your best content resource is the daily activity of the school community. This is where you differentiate. Tell these stories, share the pictures, and publish the videos.
2. Success in Social Media Is Similar To Success In Admission - It is about winning hearts and minds! Your goal is to build relationships that keep people coming back.
3. The Bulk of Your Content Should Be About What Your Audience Wants From You; Not What You Want From Them - Entertain and inform. Give them a reason to follow you. You will get what you want as the relationship strengthens.
4. Create Content That Speaks To Your Target Personas - You should have a clear idea for whom you are writing copy, taking pictures, and making videos. Everything you produce should be crafted to engage at least one of those personas.
5. Your Existing Audience Is Your Force Multiplier - Energize and engage your current families and students with your content, and they will spread your message to their networks. Social media can be a great way to recruit, but it is just as effective for strengthening the bond with the people who already know how great your school is. The content that helps with attraction will also help with retention.
6. Find the Right Channels For Your Content - Figure out where you are strongest — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging — and continue to invest there. Don’t worry about being everywhere. Rather, be as good as you can be on the channels that you are using. Use your social statistics (reach, engagement, followers) from the various platforms to inform how you are doing and adjust your approach based on what you learn.
7. There Is No Magic Bullet - Success with social media takes time and effort. There are no formulas that guarantee instant results. But if you are consistent, creative, and open to sharing your school’s stories, you will see benefits to making social media part of your strategy.