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I'm Dr. Jeannie Gudith, Founder and CEO of JAG Consulting. We help you develop, improve, buy or sell your private school.
Your academic programs are top-notch, and extracurriculars are much the same. Parents know that their children’s futures are solidified by receiving their education in your hallowed halls. There’s really no debating it. However, the always-present need remains to differentiate your private school brand from the pack. 34,576 private schools across the US educate some 5.7 million PK-12 students.
Potential enrollment opportunities are vast, but the competition is fierce. While your private school offers something your competitors don’t, you’re still trying to gain ground on other high-level institutions. It’s undoubtedly a challenge, no matter where or who you are.
Your reputation might be solidified in your community. In which case, keeping that top standing intact is of the utmost importance. Conversely, provided your school’s brand is just being established, your present and future depend on enrollment growth strategies that generate results now and years down the road.
In other words, regardless of your school’s circumstances, enrollment is the name of the game, whether it’s maintenance or growing.
It’s then worth asking: in 2022, what’s the best way to market your school to increase enrollment?
Start with finding prospective students’ parents where they spend their time. Online.
91% of surveyed parents use the internet, according to the Pew Research Centre. Of that percentage, 83% are active on social media platforms, which is much higher than other adults.
Defining a Clear Goal and Plan
A mistake made by many brands is thinking social media marketing is a matter of opening accounts and leaving the rest to the fates.
It’s an entirely human error and nothing to get discouraged over.
With your role, in particular, there’s an endless stream of moving parts. Giving social media the focus it requires to bear enrollment-based fruit is a tall order. You don’t want to allocate precious resources to something that isn’t guaranteed to yield a return.
Yet, social media should yield a return without sucking up too many of your resources. In fact, surveyed CMOs reported a 95% return on social media marketing. Those are general business statistics, but your private school is a business like any other brand.
What’s the difference between private schools with stagnant, unprofitable social media channels and those with successful social media efforts?
It all starts with establishing your goals, which must be:
A good example of the main social media goal is increasing enrollment by 25% before the school year. Simply defining such a clear objective helps shape your messaging and overall plan.
Following The Most Valuable Metrics
As the old saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage (or improve) it. The kicker with social media metrics is the sheer number you must sift through to get to the good stuff. Getting wrapped up in low-value vanity metrics will likely derail your private school’s social media efforts.
Finding the correct ways to measure your school’s social media success will ensure you’re proactive in your campaigns instead of reactive. You’ll detect trends before they catch fire, keeping you ahead of the market space and increasing your appeal to prospective students and parents.
Three of the more critical social media metrics for your private school to monitor are:
Developing Buyer Personas
Creating social media content that converts and transforms leads into enrolled students comes down to knowing your audience.
According to 99% of surveyed marketers, personalization advances relationships with your base. This statistic tells you that people want to feel like they’re being directly talked to. In contrast, generic, overly broad messaging lacks relevancy and doesn’t hook readers or viewers.
While there’s more than one audience type you’re trying to reach, each piece of your published social media content must be catered to one target.
Streamline the approach discussed above by breaking down your broader target audience into smaller, more segmented groups. One example is using age to separate parents since all age groups respond differently to messages.
Learn everything you can about your various targets, such as:
By gathering this information, you’ll have relevant, on-the-pulse subject matter for the bulk of your social media content.
Consistency is king on social media.
Right away, brand recognition generally comes down to reaching your audience consistently, reinforcing your school’s identity and primary selling points. This frequent, ongoing outreach allows your institution to remain a top-of-mind presence.
Your captive audience grows because word spreads when your private school name is constantly out there for all keen eyes to see. With that growing audience comes further engagement and reach. Beyond that, it seems like social media algorithms prioritize consistent content. Especially when it’s engaging and of high quality.
The value of social media posting consistency for your private school further highlights the need for pre-planning posts.
It’s far more time-efficient to create your social media posts months before publishing them. This way, you can consolidate the work into one spurt instead of keeping up with posts every day at school when you’re at your busiest.
Input your pre-planned posts into an automated posting platform like Hootsuite (which even has a free version). Suddenly, your frequent social media presence becomes automatic, and your campaigns work for you. You remain focused on your many other high-value tasks during school hours.
Aiming Your Resources The Most Profitable Platform
Each social media platform has its best-practice publishing style that generates optimal results. Thus, it’s wise to avoid being a jack of all trades with your social media efforts. According to most experts, you’d rather just master one platform–that being Facebook.
In fact, nearly three-quarters of all parents are on Facebook.
Fine-tuning your focus to one preferred platform allows you to hone in on the little nuances like scheduling posts. It becomes much easier to figure out when you’re getting the most engagement since you aren’t deciphering endless streams of metrics from multiple platforms.
Furthermore, community engagement is far more seamless on Facebook than on other platforms due to features such as private groups.
Creating Facebook Groups
Private Facebook groups can be hyper-specific, appealing to the particular needs of your prospective client base.
In fact, you can create a group solely for parents who haven’t yet enrolled their children. Doing so helps with publishing more specified, personalized content. Plus, you’ll build more direct, personal relationships with prospects while conveying the culture at your private school through your posts.
These groups are a chance for you to add value to your target prospect’s lives. First is the convenience factor–you’re providing answers to questions without the need to visit your website or call your school.
Additionally, enrolled family members can be admins in this group to answer questions and clearly illustrate the sense of community surrounding your school.
One more vital advantage of Facebook groups is the members are notified when you make new posts, offering further brand reinforcement.
Seeking Out Diversification Opportunities
Using another social media platform outside of Facebook can be massively impactful for your private school.
Yes, Facebook is the ideal starting point if you’re dipping a toe in the water. Still, you might quickly find out that you’ve got a knack for this social media thing (or one of your team members does), meaning it could be time to branch out.
Performing some market research will help. The parents already at your school can be a wellspring of information in finding out more about your target enrollment prospects.
You’ll likely learn that your current crop of parents is all on Instagram–which is known to help schools with marketing. In which case, Instagram marketing is worth exploring for your school, as long as you’re developing engaging, relevant content.
Even if your first campaign on a new platform doesn’t work, using metrics, trial, and error can be your guiding light.
Let Social Media Marketing Be Your Private School Enrollment Lynchpin
It doesn’t only serve your bottom line when school enrollment is up. There’s an all-encompassing boost that positively impacts the experiences of students, parents, and educators alike. Follow the social media marketing suggestions above, and you’ll be well on your way toward an unprecedented spike in school enrollment.