Using social media effectively is a critical part of promoting your independent school marketing campaigns…
But you don’t have time to keep up with ever-developing best practices of digital marketing for independent schools, or to learn the nuances of using the platform.
Despite this, the fact remains: you need to be able to use them well in order to succeed. If you don’t have time, what can you do?
The answer is simple: Model the strategies used by top performing schools around the country.
In this article, we’re going to review the performance based on Edurank’s scores. Edurank, if you’re not familiar, is social media benchmarking software that is specific to the education sector. Obviously all schools are different, so Edurank’s algorithm ranks schools based on how well they use Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, as well as looking at more general metrics, such as brand cohesiveness across all platforms.
One important point before we get started. In our view, there are many ways to measure the relative “success” of a school – this is just one of them. At the end of the day, producing quality content that is right for your audience is far more important for your success than just focusing on the metrics. Also, what works for one school may not work for yours, so invest time in testing and refining your social media strategy.
Based on Edurank’s findings, the top three independent schools for the most recent academic year (18-19) were:
- Rossall School
- Kings’ Bruton
- Surbiton High School
But how have they ranked 1, 2 and 3 this year respectively and what are they doing to get to the top of leader board? We’ll take a look at their accounts and work out why we think they’ve got social media nailed, as well as giving you a list of quick, actionable takeaways you can put to work in your school for the coming year. For the record, we have no affiliation with any of the above schools or provide marketing services for them.
So if you’re ready to learn more about some successful social media strategies, then read on!
School #1: Rossall School | Lancashire
Rossall School is a fee-paying co-educational independent school in Lancashire. Founded in 1844, the school serves students of all ages (from 2-18).
Per Edurank statistics, Rossall School get a score of 100 for their Facebook use – a tremendous result! And when you take a closer look, it’s not hard to see why.
Right off the bat, take a look at their Facebook banner image:
Why is this so effective?
- It’s a compelling visual, instantly drawing your attention to it
- It features male and female students of all ages, instantly communicating who they cater to
- Keeping their potential viewers in mind (parents of prospective pupils), they immediately give details of their upcoming open days – a great move.
Secondly, they make frequent use of the Facebook events function. Doing this lets followers of your page (or newcomers) to see at a glance what’s coming up in your schedule: much easier than having them dig through announcements to find the info they’re looking for.
Thirdly, they make sure to update the page frequently with student news, such as A Level results.
These kinds of posts frequently attract over 100 likes and several comments, which is a high level of engagement for any school.
Other updates throughout the year leverage compelling visuals to get noticed. For instance, take a look at this post that received over 255 likes:
All in all, their Facebook accounts boasts lots of engagement – something any school marketer would love to have when promoting a new digital marketing campaign. If Rossall School are reading this, we’d love to know how to promote your channels!
To take a look at their content in more detail, use the following links:
School #2: King’s Bruton | Bruton
King’s Bruton is a co-educational independent day and boarding school located in Bruton. Founded in 1519, the school first transitioned from being boys-only in the 60’s, making the full switch in the 1990’s. This school serves students in the 13-18 age bracket.
King’s Bruton has a rich and storied history – but they’re not set in their ways. In fact, their social media use makes them as relevant in modern times as they ever have been.
Per Edurank, their Youtube use gets a perfect 100: an interesting result!
You might be surprised to see Youtube listed as the strength of a school on this list. While we all know how powerful video is as a medium, few of us would dedicate much time to marketing ourselves on the platform.
Upon closer inspection, we can see that King’s Bruton have several high-performing videos on Youtube:
Looking at the above, we can make some observations:
- The most popular video is one that explains what life is like at the school. This is obviously interesting to the parents of prospective pupils. At under 4 mins in total length, it’s short enough to hold their attention – without skimping on the important details.
- The second most popular video is of the Queen’s visit to the school. While you may not be able to leverage the appearance of a royal at your school, it’s possible you’ve had other notables visit: celebrities, local politicians, or anyone else that people could be interested in seeing.
- Videos of school events (i.e. school plays or music recitals) consistently perform well. That’s because these kinds of events are nostalgic for the people that attended them, and interesting to those who weren’t present at them. Making recordings of these events available after the fact could be a great way to get more mileage out of the effort put into running them in the first place.
To learn more about their content, take a look at the following links:
School #3: Surbiton High School | Surrey
Surbiton High School is a private independent school. Located in Surrey, it was founded in 1884. It’s notable on this list because, while it caters to girls aged 4-18, and boys 4-11, it’s a good example of how a girl’s secondary school can succeed on social media.
Unlike the other two schools on this list, Surbiton High School don’t excel with one platform in particular. Instead, they perform well across the board – particularly on Twitter, where they beat out the previous two schools we’ve looked at.
Looking at their Twitter account, we’ll see that it is quite active. Since joining in April 2010, there has been in excess of 19,400 Tweets sent from the account: an average of 5+ Tweets every day over that period.
The kind of content they post is varied. Similar to Rossall School, they have recently been posting about the success of their students in attaining their desired A Level results.
Additionally, they also retweet content from other school accounts that showcase students doing interesting things. For instance:
They also share updates of their own about these events where appropriate.
The common theme across all of these updates is the use of compelling visual imagery. It’s rare to see them post something without including a photo of students engaging in an activity, a funny GIF that’s in line with their message, or something else for viewers to look at.
To learn more about their content, take a look at the following links:
What Can You Learn From These Schools?
While these schools each have a unique style and manner of engaging with their audience, there are some definite similarities in their approaches. We believe the following points are worth considering:
- Show, don’t tell. Compelling visual imagery is a must across all platforms – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or something else. Don’t just talk about what students are up to, or how happy they are… show them looking happy, being engaged and being a part of the school community.
- Keep your prospects in mind when designing your social profiles. Rossall School’s clever use of their Facebook banner image to promote upcoming open days is worth emulating (as is their use of events).
- Give your viewers something meaningful to engage with. Great photography, videos from a school event, something they can share with their relatives & friends – all of these things will inspire engagement and boost your performance on any given platform.
- Consider whether you can get more mileage out of school events by creating evergreen Youtube videos out of them. These could be school plays, music recitals, open days, or even welcome videos for prospective parents to look at.
- Use your chosen platforms frequently. Don’t feel as if you have to spam your followers, but keep them in the loop – interesting content won’t bother them.
Increasing engagement on any given platform can be a tough task, but certainly worth it in the long-term.
Consider what lessons you can learn from these schools, then put them to work in your school – they’re certain to pay off for you in the future.
And if you’d like help optimising your social media marketing for private schools, we’d be delighted to help you do so. To arrange your free mini social media audit, click below.