It's exciting to see that the majority of British schools are now using social media, but there is still a long way to go in terms of realising the potential that paid social media advertising has to offer.There is plenty of clever and engaging content being produced by schools, from nifty time lapse videos to insightful Head's blogs, but schools are missing a trick when it comes to reaching the full potential of their content and using it to reach new audiences and increase admissions.
More and more organisations are now investing their entire advertising budget in social media. While we're not suggesting that schools throw away their prospectus and spend their entire budget on Facebook ads, we do think social media advertising is certainly worth getting to grips with if you're marketing your school online. Why? Well, firstly, because there is a hungry audience on social media waiting to consume your content and secondly because schools are incredibly fortunate to be brimming with brilliant content, and if you have it...why not flaunt it!
Fortunately, you can experiment with social media advertising for a small cost. You can control your budget (Facebook and Twitter let you cap your budget at £5 per day), pause and resume campaigns at any stage and importantly you can, and should, measure the effectiveness of your campaigns using Google Analytics and in platform analytics. Each social media platform has its own terms, but most offer CPC (Cost per Click) advertising, so you only pay when someone interacts with your adverts, for example, by clicking a link or liking the post. To get started it's important that you have your page set up as a Company Page and you'll need a credit card, although you won't be charged until you launch your campaign.
Some schools struggle with the idea of what to post on social media, but with an absolutely jam packed yearly calendar, schools only need to look a little more creatively to notice how much content is available to them. Social media advertising offers the advantage of being able to promote content that has already proved to be engaging through organic reach, which means you can continue to grow on your own success!
It's important to remember that the content you use to promote open days and events should include a link back to your website so that your prospective parent can be directed towards the next step in the journey towards admission! It's essential that each step of the journey is clear and inspiring. If you spend time creating an incredible social media campaign that links to a website that is confusing and unclear on how to register for an open day or how to get in touch, then it's possible that at this point you'll 'lose' your prospective parent.
For each campaign it's suggested that you use a variety of content so that the audience doesn't repeatedly see the same advert. A few good ideas for content that works well in social media advertising include:
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all offer specific audiences that let you target by location, job title, interests etc. Facebook Audience Insights allows you to create extremely detailed targeting. Twitter allows you to target followers of your followers and specific Twitter handles as well as offering the option to target specific postcodes. LinkedIn allows you to target by job title and location and is very useful for promoting alumni and fundraising events.
There are many creative ways of advertising on social media and each platform has its own idiosyncrasies. Social media advertising is easy to set up and get started, you just need to make sure your social media account is looking smart and that you have a credit card to hand.
So how effective is social media advertising for schools? If you're ready to dig a little deeper and find out how other schools are spending their budgets, download our report The State Of Social Media In Schools.