You know your school should be on social media. Research shows that 69% of Australians have a social media account, and 50% of them use it daily.
But which platform should you use? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – where should you be investing your time for the best returns? Few schools have the resources to be on all channels, nor is it wise to invest in all. But how do you choose?
Well, it all comes down to four things; your marketing goals, the content you want to promote, your audience, and content creation resources.
Let’s look at these in a bit of detail.
Your marketing goals
Different platforms serve different marketing goals. For example, most platforms work well for boosting brand awareness, but some are better than others at creating engagement. Twitter is a great platform for starting a conversation with prospective parents, and this builds engagement better than sharing imagery through Pinterest.
The content you promote
Different social media platforms are suited to different content. For example, Instagram works well for images and video, but doesn’t work well for sharing blog content. Identify the type of content you will be promoting (video, blogs, images etc.) as this will help narrow down your choices of platform.
Who you are targeting will have an impact on the platform you use. You may connect with a younger audience through Instagram better than you would with Facebook. Know your audience well, and identify their online behaviour to determine which platforms they use most.
Content creation resources
How often can you create content, and who in your team can create that content? More importantly, what format can they create it in? You wouldn’t own a YouTube channel if you can’t create video content. Similarly, you probably wouldn’t get any value from a Pinterest account if you couldn’t create infographics.
Jot down some quick answers to the above points, as these will come in handy when we look at the most common platforms in more detail, and what they are best used for.
What is it: Facebook is one of the most widely used social media platforms. Globally, there are more than 1.5 billion active users.
What is it used for: A Facebook page is the central hub of your brand – it makes you discoverable in searches, allows one-to-one connection with followers and helps you reach large audiences. It allows you to share video, photos, blog content, and brand messages. Facebook advertising is also highly effective at reaching segmented audience.
When to use it: Facebook can be used by all schools, regardless of size or the content promoted. If you only have one social media platform, Facebook should be a major consideration.
What is it: Twitter is a social media platform where ‘tweets’ are messages limited to 140 characters.
What is it used for: Twitter is arguably the best conversation platform, allowing followers to talk to you, retweet your posts, or tag you in their posts. Twitter is known for being incredibly responsive, and allows you to easily follow and comment on trending topics. The downside is the need to be active all day, as tweets often get pushed to the bottom of the feed.
When to use it: Use Twitter if you are able to dedicate a large portion of time to monitoring it, and planning content posts. You’ll need to post relevant photos and videos, as well as be abreast of trending topics and hashtags.
What is it: Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing app with more than 500 million active monthly users.
What is it used for: Instagram allows users to post and share videos and photos, along with small captions and a large number of hashtags. Paid advertising is available, which can help boost brand awareness.
When to use it: Use Instagram if your goal is to visually appeal to a large audience on a mobile friendly platform. As text is limited, you’ll need resources available to create infographics or imagery to convey key messages, which can be a limiting factor in the decision to pursue an Instagram account.
What is it: LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network.
What is it used for: LinkedIn can be used to build a brand profile as an employer of choice. A lot of schools also use it to publish blog content and try to position themselves as industry thought leaders. LinkedIn can also be used as a recruitment platform.
When to use it: LinkedIn can be beneficial if one of your key audiences are industry professionals, looking for thought leadership within their profession. Use it to share blogs, videos, and post recruitment ads.
What is it: Pinterest is an online scrapbook where users can share and organise imagery and link to external sites. Pinterest also acts as a search engine when looking for visual content.
What is it used for: Pinterest users post a selection of visual imagery, such as designs they have created themselves, or links from around the web that they like. As a school, Pinterest can be used to boost brand awareness through branded visuals and an online profile.
When to use it: Pinterest is ideal if your school can create visually appealing content, relevant to an audience seeking to consume messages in this format. Use branded imagery to display your goods and services, and provide links to your website.
What is it: A video hosting platform, Youtube has over a billion users, and is the second largest search engine behind Google.
What is it used for: YouTube is used to host video content, and the ability to create a profile for your ‘school makes YouTube an attractive social media platform. Video descriptions allow links to related content such as your website, while also benefiting from search engine optimisation.
When to use it: Youtube is a great platform to engage with if you have a lot of video content (that is high quality) and you can consistently create new videos. Subscribers will want to see new content regularly. You also want to ensure that the recommended videos list contains as much of your content as possible, lest viewers go and watch your competitor’s video.
Now you know what platforms are open to you, it’s time to think about creating a social media strategy for the ones you want to pursue. If you need help taking the next step with your social media strategy, or just want to refine your current one, join us for our upcoming social media webinar.
This blog was written by Brock Ashton
When he isn't writing blogs or providing marketing communications support to clients, Brock spends his time reading fiction novels or chasing oval shaped footballs around a paddock. You may occasionally find him in your local Japanese restaurant, fuelling his passion for unique cuisine and culture.