Keeping Your Social Media Current
Vol. 13 No. 7
Social media can excite your audience. It's an opportunity to connect on a more personal and immediate level with your constituents, drawing them in and immersing them in the daily activities of life on campus. They present a positive picture of your school to prospective students, and remind current families why they chose you in the first place.
Of course, such campaigns require time and resources, which can be at a premium in the Admission Office. To make sure you give your social media strategy the attention it deserves, we've got some recommendations to make good use of what limited time you have.
Know what (and why) you’re posting ahead of time.
Every Admission Office uses social media differently. Some schools use it only to remind folks about application deadlines. Others use it daily to share everyday happenings in the classroom, and still more fall somewhere in between these extremes. Because of this wide variation, you should approach your social media accounts with more than a general idea of what you want to accomplish.
In fact, it’s time to make a solid communications plan. Sit down with your other advancement teammates and decide what types of updates you want to share with your social media audience, on which platform, and what your overall goal for your social media plan is. (Do you want more applicants from an increased online presence? More accepted students enrolling? Greater numbers of current students re-enrolling on time?)
And remember, your plan for social media and all other forms of communication should compliment and drive your overall advancement plan!
To get you started, we’ve collected some general ideas for what you might post on various social media platforms, though it’s by no means exhaustive (and you don’t have to do them all!):
- Important date reminders—Applications, financial aid, re-enrollment, open houses, etc.
- Updates to annual fund and capital campaign progress
- Quotes from prospective parents and positive feedback from current parent surveys
- Quotes from your school’s blog post (with accompanying link)
- Press releases and news articles featuring your school
- Pictures of your school’s students participating in special events, field trips, etc. (These include shared pictures from parents’ pages!)
- Daily lunch menu (with pictures)
- Asking social media audience questions about school mission, classroom activities, etc.
- Creating hashtag campaigns to encourage engagement/interaction
Schedule all your posts at once.
The post topics we listed above are foreseeable topics. They’re either connected to a specific date, like paperwork deadlines, or “general” enough to be used at any time, like a blog post or discussion-based updates.
Because you know these sorts of updates are coming ahead of time, you can use various social-media management system to plan out your week’s (or month’s) worth of social media updates at one time. Also, by using a social media management system, you can manage all your updates from one system, rather than bouncing between every social media platform. Scheduling foreseeable posts beforehand in one place can increase your efficiency by leaps and bounds.
There are quite a number of social media management systems that allow for this sort of pre-planning. While we aren’t endorsing any of the ones listed below, they’re a good representative sample of the sorts of services available to help save you time.
Many of these have a limited free or 30-day trial version available, if you’d like to try something out without committing. But for advanced features (and enhanced scheduling capability), you’ll probably have to commit to a monthly subscription.
Continue to access accounts daily.
While scheduling social media posts a week (or month) ahead of time can free up a large portion of your social media time, it’s not a “free pass” to ignore your social media accounts until it’s time to reschedule. Remember that social media is all about being, well, social. You have to interact with your audience if you want your social media plan to achieve its desired goals.
So make time every day to browse through your school’s social media accounts, responding to your audience’s comments, questions, and generally making them feel heard and understood. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon should generally catch all the interaction in a timely enough manner.
Furthermore, keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities that you didn’t plan for. Perhaps a teacher received an unexpected award in the community, or a New York Times op-ed on admission practices in private-independent schools goes viral. Openings like these let your school participate in a wider conversation and generate interest (and traffic) on your social media accounts.
We invite you and your entire advancement team attend ISM's Advancement Academy 2015, held July 27-31 in Leesburg, Virginia. Learn about your role within the advancement team and the broader scope of the school, discover new strategies to answer old problems, and return home ready to put your action plan into place! Special team pricing is available, so call our Workshop Department at 302-656-4944 or email email@example.com to reserve your seats today.
Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 7 Your Bad Social Media Habits
ISM Monthly Update for Division Heads Vol. 10 No. 4 Good Social Media Policy Protects Your School
Private School News Vol. 11 No. 5 Start Off The New School Year With a Stellar Social Media Plan
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 36 No. 5 Conducting a Communications Audit
I&P Vol. 35 No. 10 Integrating Faculty Into the Advancement Process
I&P Vol. 29 No. 13 Use Your Parent Education Plan to Shift Parents From a 'Contract Mentality' to a 'Sense of Community'