Talking about social media can bring up a range of emotions. Some of us have complicated relationships with social media platforms in our personal lives. Much has been written on its effect on our time, mental health, and happiness. But despite the dire prognostications, social media appears here to stay for some time. A February 2023 study by the CDC found that social media use is higher among US parents than US adults generally. A majority of parents report using YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. So how can you turn social media into an asset for your education service?
A majority of parents report using YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. So how can you turn social media into an asset for your education service?
Organic vs. Paid. Let’s get a few definitions straight first!
- Organic social media: This is where you post directly to one of your platforms. Your post will only be seen by those who follow you or in the case of Twitter and Instagram, those who search a hashtag used in your post.
- Paid social media: This is where you pay money for more people to see your posts. This can be done by “promoting” an organic social media post or running an ad campaign. All the social media platforms have a place for you to build an ad campaign, which includes adding creative (the graphic), copy (the text), setting your budget (which can usually be set as a per/day amount or a total for the length of the campaign), choosing how long your campaign will run, and selecting your target audience.
The top three goals for your social media presence:
- Identify new customers.
- The content: Answer these questions with your content. What problem do you solve for families or students? What makes your education service special? What do other parents say about you? This is the content you want to promote to new customers.
- The method: This can be done with organic social media by strategically using hashtags and asking supporters / current customers to share your posts to their platforms. But if you really want to expand your audience, put some money behind a paid social media campaign. You can often see results for as little as $25/week.
- Engage existing customers.
- The content: Think of this as your online bulletin board for your families. Post photos of a recent event (ensuring, of course, that you have their permission for using photos their child appears in!), remind them about application deadlines, ESA deadlines, and upcoming events, and announce new product offerings, hires, or whatever great new thing is happening at your school or education service!
- The method: Organic social media is ideal for this, because hopefully, your customers are already following you!
- Build your brand identity.
- The content: Similar to a website, having social media platforms is a sign of life. It’s another place parents will go to find out who you are and what you’re all about! Plan for occasional but regular content that is just about promoting your brand. Post your mission statement, a fun flashy graphic that shows off your brand, or a quote that encapsulates why you do what you do. This is especially important for Instagram with its “grid” feature.
- The method: Organic social media all the way! This is for the people who are looking for you already.
There are a growing number of platforms. How do you decide which ones are right for you?
- Who is your audience? Since you’re an education service provider, your primary audience is parents. They are the decision makers for their child’s education. But some secondary audiences could include other education innovators (industry colleagues), professional education organizations, and education influencers (organization leaders, elected officials, etc.).
- The Big Two: Facebook and Instagram. These two showed up in the data as parents’ most-used platforms (along with YouTube – but more on that one below). So if parents are your primary audience, you definitely need these two. They are also the easiest to use. They’ve been around the longest and have tried-and-true advertising builders. They are also both owned by Meta now, so you can build your advertising campaign on one platform but run it on both platforms simultaneously.
- Instagram stories and reels. These two features are becoming must-do’s on Instagram. Instagram stories can be as simple as reposting your grid content in a story form with some fun stickers, background music, captions or actions (“take a poll!” or “Love it / hate it”, etc.). While Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, you can save them as a “featured story” that can be accessed from your page later! Reels are a bit more involved, but if you’re good in front of the camera on selfie-mode, reels will be your jam.
- A note about Facebook “Pages:” A Facebook business page always has to be created from and connected to a personal Facebook account. You can add other users with admin privileges, but a personal account has to initiate the creation of the page. If you don’t have a personal Facebook account, you should create one for the purpose of launching your page. You don’t need to add any photos to it, accept friends, or engage in any Facebook activities. The personal account just needs to exist so you can start the page from it!
- YouTube: This one is another parent favorite. The pros are many. Your audience is there, video content is growing in popularity, and you can use it as a part of your business offerings (think webinars, how-to’s, online classes for purchase, etc.!). The con? Creating videos takes work. If you can hire it out, awesome! Do it. You can also do it yourself, but to do it well, you’ll need 1) time, 2) equipment, and 3) a plan!
- TikTok: If you have a knack for creating short, fun videos and you’re relatively familiar with the platform, go for it. Young parents are there, and it’s a way to show you’re with it and increase your reach to those who might not find you on the traditional platforms! But if this feels out of your comfort zone for now, it’s ok. This one is optional.
How often should you post?
Consistency is key. You want your audience to be able to count on hearing from you at certain times. So set a pace you can keep up. You should aim for posting no less than once a week. 4-6 times a week is ideal. But again, better to start at a slower pace you can meet, and increase your activity with time and resources.
Social media “handles.”
A social media handle is the @yourbusiness for that platform (i.e. @uarizona or @HarperCollins or @loveyourschoolaz). When possible, choose an @yourbusiness that is the same for every platform. It’s easier for your customers to remember! Check the availability of that handle across platforms before you commit!
Remember to have fun with social media! This is the place to show your authenticity and give parents a taste of your school or education service. You’re going to do great!