Back in August last year, we published a very popular blog which looked at the top 3 Independent Schools for their use of social media, according to their score on Edurank. If you want to refresh your memory, you can have a read here.

We’ve been lucky enough to catch up with Sara Stockdale, Head of Communications, from Surbiton High School, who featured in our original article as one of the top performing schools on social media.

We asked Sara all about their strategy and why it’s so effective, so for the inside track on Surbiton High School’s social media tactics, keep reading!

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How did you come up with the strategy?

Our social media strategy is based on the creation of relevant, engaging and timely content which is crucial to the successful implementation of this strategy. Posts are tailored around activities taking place at school, trending hashtags on Twitter and relevant national days or weeks of interest such as #WorldKindnessDay and #AntiBullyingWeek which coincide with school activities.

We also engage in conversation around relevant topics external to the school, but which are relevant to our audiences.

Understanding your core target audience through segmentation and targeting your message accordingly to their preferred platforms has proven to increase engagement rates. Each platform is used slightly differently; LinkedIn is used for higher level articles, events, awards and recruitment; whereas Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are used to highlight the daily activities and Twitter to tie in with trending hashtags.

What makes the school’s social media so effective?

We are fortunate to have a hugely engaged cohort of staff who understand and see the benefits of sharing their subject areas and topical lessons and activities to a wider audience. This, in turn, encourages parents to engage with the School on social media. Ownership and involvement are delegated to all departments through the use of 40 school twitter handles across the Boys’ Prep School, Girls’ Prep School and the Senior School.

Additionally, many staff will interact with content through their personal Twitter handles which further increases our reach.

Being reactive is also key. Native posting is by far a better way to maximise the usage of a social media platform and much of our content is driven by seizing opportune moments within the school day or trending content on Twitter.

However, we also plan social media posts where we can and HootSuite allows us to schedule this content. This spreads out the content both weekly and daily. Timing is crucial as posts on social media have a limited time span. Posting live events during the day does not always maximise engagement with our busy working parents so we regularly schedule social media posts at peak times of use.

Social media help

Do you have any tips for schools looking to improve their use of social media?

  1. Look at how your different platforms are being used and whether you need to review the correct platforms to reach your audience. I joined Surbiton High School two years ago and we didn’t have an Instagram account – we now have nearly 1,500 followers!
  2. Engage staff with the benefits of social media. Teaching staff are primarily there to educate pupils but by sharing their great work, this can be amplified and shared to a wider audience.
  3. Make use of all the benefits of different platforms: we have closed LinkedIn groups for various audiences, use Facebook tools such as events to promote events open to external audiences and live streaming etc.
  4. Don’t be afraid to re-use and update existing content to share – if it’s relevant.
  5. There’s a great book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ by Gary Vaynerchuk, which provides sound advice on how often you should use social media to ‘sell’. It’s vital to get the balance right and ensure you are engaging with, not shouting at, your audience.

Did you face any challenges?

Not really. We are fortunate that the benefits of communicating and marketing the School via social media is recognised by our Senior Leadership Team.

The main issue we face is trying to capture all the great things that are going on and that’s a great challenge to have.

Surbiton High School’s Social Media Accounts

So that’s how Surbiton High School nabbed the number 3 spot when it comes to use of social media. Understanding their audience, support from the whole school community and planning! If you’re running the social media for a school, we’d definitely advise you to take some of Sara’s social media tips on board. And, don’t forget to let us know how you get on.

We also caught up with the number 1 school on the list, so you can find out all about Rossall School’s social media tactics here.

Disclaimer: Ambleglow has no affiliation to Surbiton High School, they are not an Ambleglow client, we just really admire what they’re doing in the world of school marketing.

Mo – Mailers

ambleglow expert


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