There’s no getting around it – marketing is heavily influenced by trends in the wider environment. And in 2019 and beyond, certain trends are going to have an impact on your role as a school marketer: failure to keep them in mind could greatly limit the effectiveness of your work.
But no matter what trends arise, you’ll always need to use certain platforms to reach your audience. And currently, Facebook reigns supreme over all other social channels available for speaking to your market.
In this article, we’re going to discuss five valuable principles you can apply starting today to use Facebook more effectively in your school marketing role. Using this information, you’ll be able to take advantage of the platform, keep your school at the forefront of the space and stay engaged with your target audience easier than ever before.
#1: Understand the Incredible Power of Facebook for Reaching Your Target Audience
As a school marketer, Facebook has never been more important. With young people shifting more and more towards platforms like Instagram and Snapchat the demographic of people reachable on Facebook has aged up. It’s quickly become the domain of people in the 30+ age bracket. While this doesn’t help its “cool factor”, it definitely helps you in your role.
Students usually don’t have the final say in what secondary school they attend. That decision is usually made by their parents. And with more and more parents using Facebook above all other platforms, you have a unique opportunity to build an online presence that speaks directly to your audience.
A solid Facebook presence is just one component of your overall strategy – but it’s an important one. Don’t discount the power of Facebook for reaching your market.
#2: Respect the Algorithm – Don’t Try to Game the System
Facebook gives you unique access to your target audience. Sadly, it’s not as simple as just setting up an account, posting regular content and reaping the benefits.
The organic reach of pages & accounts on most social media sites has been declining for the past few years. Most notably, research shows that a post from an average Facebook page will often reach less than 5% of its followers).
Whether this decrease in reach is down to more people using these platforms (thereby making it crowded) or an increased corporate focus on monetisation is irrelevant. Facebook is a crucial platform for marketing your school, so you need to manage this decline.
Without delving into the intricacies of how the algorithm works, you have two main options to succeed with Facebook moving forward:
- Create organic content that is highly relevant to your followers (i.e. that they will like, share and comment on, thereby increasing the chance other people will see it)
- Commit a portion of your budget to paid ads and promoted posts
These two strategies are useful for most of the social media platforms you’ll encounter in your role as a school marketer. Which one you choose is a matter of priorities.
Do you need immediate results? Then you’ll usually need to spend money. Are you happy to build up your presence over time? Then you can work on building an engaged, organic following.
#3: Use Facebook Groups to Your Advantage
We said that we discourage our clients from trying to “game the system” – and we stand by that. But there’s one thing you can do that’s:
- Perfectly acceptable by Facebook’s standards
- Very effective for boosting engagement
- Completely free
What is this?
Creating closed Facebook groups for your followers.
In this case, it could be for parents of students attending the school. Facebook’s 2018 changes shifted emphasis onto personal posts over business ones. Translation: businesses have to pay to play now.
While paid advertising will certainly be a big part of your strategy, you should also leverage the power of Facebook groups. Groups work well because participants have to opt in to them. Facebook prioritises show these posts in their feed, and members even get notifications of activity in the group when relevant.
Standard post reach has declined dramatically in the past few years. To ensure your posts keep reaching more of your followers (even for basic things such as updates about Parent-Teacher Meetings etc.), create a closed Facebook group and invite your followers to join it.
This will make all your other activities more effective without adding an extra burden to your social media duties (because you can just post the same content to your public page & closed group).
#4: Use Videos and Pictures to Boost Your Engagement
Building on the first strategy mentioned in point #2 above (creating highly relevant organic content for your followers), here’s a quick tip you can use to practically guarantee better engagement:
Use videos and pictures in your posts wherever possible.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and we’ve seen time and time again that visual posts do far better than simple text-based ones. Think of it this way – would you rather read 10 paragraphs about the school’s latest Sports Day exploits, or would you rather read a bit, then see lots of pictures and videos from the event?
The answer is clear. Whenever possible, you should show people what you’re doing (not just tell them).
It appears as is videos are more effective overall, as:
• Videos get 2x as many clicks as image-based ads
• Video ads convert 20-30% better than ones with images
• Videos can boost click through rates by as much as 47%
With smartphones having better quality video technology, you no longer have to spend thousands on slick videos or photography – save that for your hero pieces such as the website and prospectus. But however you choose to shoot, it’s safe to say that some form of imagery is nearly always better than text only, so don’t neglect to include visuals in your posts!
#5: Leverage Events for More (Free) Exposure
Getting the word out about your open day, upcoming school play or other significant event used to be very cumbersome. Flyers, posters for the local area, letters to parents… thankfully, these things are now a much smaller part of the equation.
With an engaged Facebook following (particularly if you funnel followers towards a closed group for easier access), you can get a lot of exposure for free for your events. As more and more people signal their attendance on the platform, the event will be promoted to their friends, thereby increasing your organic reach at no extra cost.
Facebook Events are a powerful asset once you’ve built a relatively engaged following, as they will allow you to gauge interest in whatever event you’re planning. Don’t neglect to use this tool for all it’s worth.
School marketing is complex, but with the right tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to stay one step ahead of trends and maintain your school’s position in the marketplace. Effective Facebook use is very important, as it’s the best social channel (at the moment, at least) for reaching your audience.
Abiding by these principles to your Facebook will give you a solid foundation, ensuring you get more benefit out of everything else you do on the platform. Don’t forget them as you grow: they’ll serve you well in all your marketing efforts.