Social Media for Private & Independent Schools
Yes, your school should be on social media JUST as much as the apparel company, lifestyle brand, or influencer that you follow. Why? Because it’s good for student enrollment and student retention. Clearly, there is no disputing that, right?
Even more interesting is the rise of “professionals” becoming influencers on these platforms over the last couple of years. We think this, more than anything, proves that your school has a place on social media. In fact, we think these professionals are setting the standard for what private schools SHOULD be doing on social media.
But we get it. It can be time-consuming to do social media marketing the right way. So, we will walk you through how to create and manage a successful social media marketing strategy for your school.
Social Media Marketing for Private Schools Table of Contents
- why schools should be on social media
- how to market your school on social media
- creating a school social media strategy
- what to post on social media
- how to conduct a social media audit
- how to create content for social media
- how to get school staff involved
- how to get students involved
- cross-posting, good or bad?
- top social media channels for school marketing
- which social media channels to use
- tools to make your life easier
- using Facebook groups for your school
- how Facebook groups can help your school grow
- social media advertising for private schools
Why Schools Should Be On Social Media
*We’re going to use “professionals” a lot throughout this section of the post. For the sake of clarity, when we refer to a “professional,” we’re referring to experts in a certain field. Mainly people that have master’s and doctorate degrees, but not them exclusively.
Increasingly, over the last couple of years, people in “traditional” professions have made the jump from “insert title here” to influencer.
You’ve surely seen the content from a doctor, a lawyer, a professor, or even a pathologist come across your feed. You might even follow a couple of them yourself. In many cases, these field experts have built businesses off of their audience by opening up their own practice locations or creating an online course, for example.
This is a far cry from the influencers of yesterday. The term influencer itself is being redefined in the minds of many, from makeup or fashion personality to someone who shares useful or entertaining content.
But why? We think it’s because of the huge gap between correct information and misinformation that has existed on social media platforms since they were spawned into existence. In what seemed like the height of misinformation between the 2018-2020 years, professionals started filling in that gap… and they blew up for one simple reason.
In a time of not knowing what to believe, they were a trusted source of information. Plain and simple.
Now that the average person is okay with (and even is seeking out) these types of people to follow, private schools NEED to get their skin in the game. Who else better to educate than the very educational institutes themselves? The writing is right there on the wall.
How to Market Your Private School On Social Media
By becoming a helpful and truthful source of information for your community, you will earn their trust. Trust turns into new enrollments and more student retention nearly every single time.
It also makes closing prospects much easier. You’ll find that your content (which is essentially a whole bunch of trust in you) will lead people to be fully sold on your school as the right choice before they even come in for a tour.
You’re basically preselling your school by consistently putting out this type of information. So, when it comes to signing on the dotted line, a parent’s mind is already made up, and they feel GOOD about their decision.
The cherry on top is that this strategy will allow you to build an audience. That means both existing families and prospective families will follow your school because they like what you’re putting out. If we’ve learned anything from today’s influencers, having an audience brings a lot of opportunities your way.
School Social Media Strategy
Your school’s social media marketing strategy will act as a reference guide. Putting paper to pen (or keyboard to cloud?) to create your strategy is important. You’ve got enough things floating around in your head every day. Make your life a bit easier by creating a document detailing your strategy.
Revisit it often and update it as goals or resources change, but do this bi-yearly at the very least. Look at our private school marketing plan guide for an in-depth how to create your marketing strategy.
What Should Schools Post on Their Social Media Accounts?
It can get overwhelming trying to figure out what to post. Like The Cheesecake Factory’s menu, there are a seemingly endless amount of options. So, it begs the question, what should private schools post on social media?
In short, we’d like to say don’t complicate it. All the normal stuff you’re already posting, seeing other schools posting, or thinking about posting should work fine. Sometimes, analysis paralysis kicks in, and schools do nothing on social media, which is not the way to go.
If you find yourself there, then just get started. If you’re already posting consistently, then a content audit can be a helpful tool to show you which types of posts get the most engagement from your audience. Follow the guidelines below to conduct a social media content audit.
How to Conduct a Social Media Audit
Undoubtedly, certain content on your channels resonates more than others. The audit’s goal is to find the categories that fit that bill so you can create more content adjacent to what is working.
- Use this spreadsheet to categorize your social media posts and record the likes and comments for each post within that category.
- Record as many posts as possible, but be sure to do at least your last 100
- Once completed, review the “engagement” sheet of the spreadsheet to see which categories are your highest and lowest-performing
- Create more content that fits within your top three performing content categories and less content that falls within the lower-performing categories
If you’ve been posting consistently, you have a wealth of data at your fingertips. This is how you analyze it, so your efforts are focused on what matters.
How to Create Content for Social Media
With all the stuff on your plate, social media might be the straw that breaks the marketer’s back. We get it. Thankfully, we have a way to do it that will save you a trip to the chiropractor.
I call it the “never-ending content strategy.” In essence, it’s a way to make the most out of the content you create, which makes consistently posting on social media feasible.
The crux of this strategy is a few big pieces of content per month. You then break those big ideas into smaller bits of information.
Essentially, that’ll give you multiple posts from one idea or piece of content. That means rather than having to come up with thirty different ideas for content in any given month, you’ve only got to come up with two. This reduces about 80% of the overwhelm (we’ve done super scientific studies and self-reflection to get this stat.)
Using this guide as an example, here’s what this might look like in practice.
- I write this blog as our longest, most in-depth piece of content. I do two of these per month currently.
- I create 5-10 graphics from valuable snippets of this article to share on social media feeds and stories. Or, I post pictures that fall into my highest-performing categories and discuss different themes from this post in the caption and comments.
- I record a podcast about this topic.
- I create a couple of short videos to use as Instagram reels, YouTube Shorts, and TikToks about the information in this article.
- I reference the blog article on some of those posts to push traffic to it.
By following this strategy, you can see how figuring out what to post becomes much more manageable and even, dare I say, strategic. This is how you can create endless content without driving yourself mad!
How to Get Staff to Create Social Media Content
We could all use a little more time in our day, right? That goes double for private school marketers. One of the ways to do that is to delegate content creation to other school staff members. This is good for you for obvious reasons, but it’s also good for your audience.
At the beginning of this guide, I told you how professionals and experts have become the new influencers of the day. Here is where we take that trend and apply it to your school.
Your staff are the experts. Your school’s teachers, leaders, and board members are the doctors, lawyers, and pathologists to continue using the earlier example. Getting them to share what they know can go a long way in convincing prospective families that your school is the right school for them.
But what should you ask them to share?
Here are a few content topic ideas to get you started. You can have them share
- Their knowledge in their particular field
- Their unique points of view or perspectives
- News or recent findings in their respective fields
- Their lectures
- Their opinions on education
- Their tips, tricks, stories, and hacks
- Why they educate and why they work at your school
The point of these posts is to do one thing… EDUCATE. This type of content will prove that your school employs people who know what they’re talking about, which is a good thing for your prospects. It will also get your prospects familiar with the people who work at your school so when they see them on a tour or on campus they already feel familiar.
Getting Students to Create Social Media Content
While it can be helpful to have staff creating content for your social media channels, getting the students involved can be even more effective for your social media strategy. Doing so frees up more of your time and gives your audience a different perspective on your school.
Potential students are mainly interested in what life will be like for them at your school, so what better way to promote that than with the current students themselves? We recommend gathering a handful of your most engaged students for this role.
These are most likely the club presidents, theater program leaders, sports team captains, student aids, and students in these types of positions.
A less obvious but maybe even more beneficial piece to having students help create content is that they have an eye for what will work. It’s much more natural for a student to make content another student can relate to than it is for a teacher to do the same thing.
Make a list of the students you think would be a good fit for this role and ask them if they’d be interested. You can also incentivize them with a wide range of things if you think it’s necessary.
Here are some ideas for students to create content around
- Daily stories showing the prep work leading up to a big event like a play or a concert
- Day in the life of a student
- Why they love attending your school
- Unique things about your school
Cross-posting on Different Social Media Accounts
Cross-posting is defined as posting the same content across multiple platforms. I’m not the biggest fan of this as a marketing practice, but I get the appeal.
Posting the reel you just made for Instagram on your YouTube Shorts is much easier to do than creating the same video again for YouTube Shorts. Still, I think cross-posting is a bad look. Rather than post the exact video, I’d encourage you to take an extra 10 minutes to recreate the same content to look native to the platform you’re posting on.
It might seem like it won’t make much difference, but the difference it does make is significant. It’s the distinction between looking lazy and looking professional.
The Top Social Media Channels to Market Your School
Now that you know what type of content to create and how to create it at scale, let’s talk about which social media channels you should use for your school. There are a good amount of them out there, and we have a bit of an unpopular opinion on the topic (more on that after this section.)
We’ve ranked the top social media channels below, with the first being classified as “you should definitely be using this” and the last one on the list as “if you can do it well, do it.”
- YouTube (Shorts)
- X (Twitter)
No, You Don’t Need to be Everywhere
There is something to be said for being the big fish in the little pond. I believe that something is “IT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO.”
In terms of social media, that means you don’t need to be on every single platform. It’s far better to only focus on what you can manage. Whether that is one platform or five is entirely up to you. At least to start.
It certainly gets easier adding new channels once you’ve got the hang of posting consistently.
The truth is that social media (and the internet largely) are where people first interact with your school. So, ask yourself, “If this is the first impression with a prospect, is it how we want to be represented”? That’s a telling question that will get a telling answer.
Obviously, you want every place someone can contact your school online to be up to par. If you have a subpar presence on any online platforms and are not ready to be consistent on them, do this:
- Post on that channel something along the lines of “We’re thrilled you found us here! Currently, the best place to find our content is on ________. We post often there, so check us out to learn more about how we help!
This will hold you over until you can add these channels to your posting strategy.
Social Media Tools to Make It Easier
Facebook Groups for Private Schools
I was recently reminded of the power of Facebook Groups by my wife. She’s a member of a couple of cloth diapering FB groups that are pretty active. If you’re unfamiliar with cloth diapering, it’s basically using cloth diapers that are washable and reusable to diaper your baby.
Our first is just over one, and my wife’s been on this cloth diaper kick since before we found out we were having a child. Side note: cloth diapering is a huge money and waste saver, so if you’re in that boat, I’d encourage you to check it out.
Now, most schools are using private Facebook groups for their current enrolled families as a way to build community and engagement. I think this is great and should be done. But, I believe schools can use them for something new.
That new thing is a public-facing Facebook group. By public-facing, I mean a group of members who are NOT your current students, families, or parents. Why?
Well, the strategy behind having a Facebook group is to build a community, hopefully, an engaged community of people who are interested in what you have to offer. By doing so, you accomplish a few things all at once
- Make their customer experience better
- Add value to your tuition – if your group is valuable enough
- Gain direct access to your audience – can’t be done with followers
- Build “super fans” – people ready and willing to be school ambassadors
- Gain credit for gathering a group of people with similar interests. – If two people become best friends because they met in your group, you indirectly get credit, and that’s valuable
How Can Facebook Groups Help Schools Grow?
Enter the public-facing Facebook group. By creating a group open to people other than your current families, you get to apply all these benefits to people before they pay any tuition.
That means you get to use these benefits as marketing levers to shape your member’s consideration list and, ideally, push them in favor of your school.
To be clear, I’m talking about creating a new Facebook group, NOT opening your family-only Facebook group to the public.
Let’s look at an example with two potential families. Say your school has a rock-solid soccer team.
Having the opportunity to join that team is one of the draws of attending your school.
Say you were to create a group geared towards soccer families, where you talked about all things soccer, shared funny stories, memes, helpful information, when sign-ups start, and made it a place where members could trade, donate, or sell used equipment, give advice, etc.
Let’s say family A is in your group, but family B is not.
Don’t you think Family A would at least be a little more likely to enroll in your school than family B?
Why? Because for months or years, you’ve been responsible for gathering that group of people and supplying valuable and helpful information.
Essentially, you’ve been building up credit with them and establishing your school as the authority on soccer for a long time.
But that’s not the only benefit. By gathering this group, you’re actually able to speak and be heard.
That’s because you have the attention of people who are highly interested in the thing that is a major draw for student enrollment.
That’s pretty powerful and hard to do on other platforms.
Let’s talk about family B, the family that is not in your FB group.
How would you reach them? How would you get their attention? Why would they care to listen to you?
See, both families are potential prospects, but one you can reach and will listen when you speak, while the other you can’t reach, and they probably won’t listen.
There are a bunch of use cases for this Facebook Group strategy.
It will be even more beneficial if your school serves students outside your area with online services because you can reach a more vast audience.
But even still, keeping it local, you could create a group dedicated to sharing local events, or a parenting support group, or serve any interest that you notice a majority of your families have in common.
Of course, these online communities don’t have to happen ONLY on FB.
Discord or Google Groups could be a better option for your school. The important thing here is not necessarily the platform you use but the strategy and content you deliver.
Social Media Advertising
Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and X (Twitter)… these are all social media platforms that may be part of your social media advertising mix. We have a great post about social media advertising that I suggest you read through to thoroughly understand the subject. Here, we’ll touch on some of the highlights.
Some of the most effective ads you can run will come from your created posts. Granted, you must create the types of posts we’ve discussed in this guide. Here’s why: that content will be helpful, valuable, and or entertaining. That makes for a great first impression with a prospective parent or student.
The goal of your ads should be to have a natural first impression on your prospects. Then, to remain in front of them with your content until they make a decision on a school. Because education is a considered purchase, it has a long buying cycle. That is to say, families take their time to decide which school to send their kids to.
You’ll want to set up four campaigns;
- one geared toward a cold audience of prospective parents
- one geared toward a cold audience of prospective students
- one geared toward a warm audience of prospective parents
- one geared toward a warm audience of prospective students
The cold audiences will only get your helpful, valuable, and informational type of content. NO SELLING. I mean it.
Selling too early is for the rookies. The warm audiences will get the same content. However, it will be mixed with more sales-oriented material.
This is designed to help your school stay at the forefront of a family’s consideration list and remain there throughout the decision-making process.
Social media marketing has the power and potential to grow private schools in a major way. By embracing the role of trusted educators and thought leaders, private and independent schools can leverage social media platforms to provide valuable content, build relationships, and establish themselves as reliable sources of information. Becoming that source of information will build trust with their target audience, leading to more enrollments and higher retention rates.
Through strategic content creation, consistent platform management, and the creation of engaged communities, private schools can elevate their online presence, attract prospective parents and students, and ultimately thrive in a new way.
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Schedule a conversation with us if you could use help with your marketing. We’ll meet and discuss how we can help you reach your goals.