- Independent Schools
A lack of engagement on Facebook often comes from a slippery slope of Facebook's algorithms that goes something like this: You don't post content that is interesting to your followers, and therefore, no one engages with it. When followers don't engage with your content, they stop seeing your posts. If they don't see your posts, they can't engage with them. At some point during that process, Facebook stops recognising your school's Facebook page as trustworthy...and, repeat.
In short, no one is "liking" your school's Facebook posts for two main reasons:
- Content: The content you share is not engaging, inconsistent and not visually attractive.
- Algorithms: Facebook algorithms range from favouring Live video to punishing non-mobile friendly sites. They also judge you based on authority — which is based on whether or not your page already gets a lot of engagement — and a whole slew of other items.
So, it's a pretty vicious circle: You can't obtain authority without good content, and you can't share good content without a lot of time — something more than ⅔ of survey respondents say they lack. A matter-of-fact, more than 60% of marketers admitted they only dedicate 0-5 hours to social media per week!
Content and algorithms are two very broad terms — so let's take a closer look at some concrete ways content and algorithms are negatively impact social media engagement.
1. Your posts don't have images or videos.
Posts with images get 650% more engagement than those without — meaning plain text posts don't cut it on Facebook (or any social network, for that matter). Facebook favours posts that have photo and video — native and live video to be exact. This means, for every piece of content you post on your school's Facebook page, make sure it has an associated image or video. If it doesn't, make one!
Here is a great example from ACS Cobham International School:
2. You're posts are inconsistent.
Consistency is key for Facebook engagement. While on Facebook you should avoid posting more than two times per day, posting daily will help you build authority. Investing in a social media post scheduling tool, like Buffer or Hootsuite, can help you obtain consistency.
Simply dedicate 45-60 minutes every Friday to scheduling your Facebook posts for the following week. This will allow you to schedule during non-peak times, and not just during school hours (when your followers are also busy.)
3. Your school's Facebook doesn't follow the 4-1-1 rule.
The 4-1-1 rule is at the heart of a social media content strategy. In short, it means that for every four pieces of informative, engaging, fun, or interesting content (think news, blogs, videos, etc), you're allowed one soft sell and one hard sell. So, if you only ever take to your Facebook page to ask for donations, chances are you won't get a ton of engagement.
Focus on the micro-moments happening on your campus. For most schools, a photo with a simple caption garners a lot of likes. Back-to-school, holidays, and campus traditions are a great time to grab a lot of photos and content to share.
If you're looking for content, dig through your Flickr, news, blogs, and other social media accounts. Not everything you post on Facebook has to be recent, it just has to be relevant.
4. No one knows your social profiles exist.
Schools who may be newer to social media or recently decided to dedicate more time and effort to the medium often have a harder time building momentum on their posts. To make sure current and prospective families know you're active on social media, include links to your social profiles in your email communications and your website footer.
If you're active on social media and want to prove it to your community, invest in a social media mash-up. For example, using Finalsite Feeds, your school can automatically aggregate posts from a variety of social sources (including hashtags) to prove you're active and engaging.
On-Demand Webinar: Learn how you can use Finalsite Feeds to increase social media engagement, monitor what people say about your school, and track clicks.
5. Your school's website isn't mobile-friendly or fast.
Facebook announced last week that it will favour websites and web pages with fast load times over those with slower load times in news feeds and searches. This comes after Facebook and Google began favouring responsive websites in their search results in 2015-2016.
This new decision comes after numerous research studies that suggest website users will only wait about three seconds for a website to load. The most common cause for slow load times is large photos and videos embedded or used on your homepage (and throughout pages on your site).
Here are a few best practices we recommend schools using to "trim the fat" on their website:
Export images at the size they will be displayed on your website. Focus on image size and getting your dimensions right. Uploading a 7000 pixel-wide photo for a 200 pixel-wide thumbnail isn't necessary, and bogs down site speed. While it is an extra step to resize images imported from cameras, I like to create Photoshop templates that already have the sizes for each area on the site I update images. That way, the settings are already there, and I simply have to drag, drop, and save! Compressor.io is a great tool to use to compress images once they are resized.
Be sure all images for web are 72dpi. While in print having 300dpi improves the quality of images, this will not make a difference on the web.
Find an image optimiser tool that doesn't hurt the quality of your images. I like to use ImageOptim, a free tool that shrinks down image size without harming image quality. However, it is only available on Mac.
Be sure all photographs on your site are a JPEG. Only use PNG files when uploading a graphic. Since they are higher quality, they'll bog down site time if you end up using a PNG file for photographs. A pro tip from the Support Team: use the tool TinyPNG to optimize your PNG images when they are absolutely necessary. Just drag and drop the image into the site, and they'll reduce the size by half or more.
For video, download our Quick Guide for Optimising Video for the Web for a variety of tips and tricks for improving site speed.
6. You're not investing in social media ads.
Because of Facebook's algorithms, if you really want your content to be seen, you'll have to invest in social media ads.
This will help your page garner new visits and likes, and ultimately build up your brand on Facebook. For example, Whitfield School, US, teamed up with the Finalsite social media consulting team to use social media ads, and the results were impressive:
- Facebook likes increased by 13% and Twitter followers increased by 10% since social media audit
- 23 goal completions as a result of the ads
- 2 users who viewed open house ads (Facebook) downloaded an application
- 15 assisted goal conversions from Facebook & Twitter
- 73% of users were brand new to the website
- 14,636 users reached from Facebook ads
- 23,209 impressions from Twitter ads
7. You ask for likes, comments and shares.
While this used to be a "best practices" of social media engagement, the same update Facebook made this past February also impacted these kinds of posts. Facebook sees these kinds of posts as dishonest and inauthentic, and therefore punishes them in news feeds.
8. No one "likes" your content, and therefore, no one "likes" your content.
This is the slippery slope I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
Back in February, Facebook released an update that began ranking users and pages higher in news feeds when a user frequently engaged with that person or page. For example, if Sally Smith always likes the photos you post on Facebook, she's very likely to see your updates. However, if Sally Smith likes your page, but has never liked anything you've posted, she is less likely to see your updates.
However, you can beat the system if your page:
- Has high engagement rates, in general.
- Posts timely content
- Is getting a lot of engagement at the moment (think live video, or a recent big event at your school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia shares innovative and helpful content that helps schools and districts create captivating online experiences that increase brand awareness, student and faculty retention, and school-to-home communications. With more than five years experience in the industry, Mia has written more than 200 articles, eBooks, and reports about best practices for schools on a variety of topics from social media to web design. As a former TV and news reporter, and wedding photographer, Mia specializes in sharing how to use storytelling to power your school's admissions funnel. When she isn't busy creating content or hosting her #LIKEABOSS Podcast for FinalsiteFM, you can find her hiking with her Boston terrier, running an army wives meeting at Fort Campbell, or enjoying a well-deserved savasana on her yoga mat.
- Social Media