3 Ingredients of Your School’s Social Strategy: Part One

3 ingredients for your school's social media

It’s back-to-school time and the halls are bustling with the sounds of hope, optimism and enthusiasm. But behind your door, you uncomfortably stare into the empty screen of your school’s social media efforts. Sure, you managed to post a few “first day of school” pictures on your Facebook page. And you’ve finally found a reason to justify Pinterest during working hours. But as your fingers type, touch and try to figure out what to do next, your mind goes blank on why you’re doing what you’re doing or what the expected outcome should be. Crickets.

Your school’s social media strategy must have a solid foundation before getting bogged down in the tactical choices. While there is a bit of a buzz about Pinterest, a curiosity about Google+, and a (bored) familiarity with the functionality of Facebook, the tools won’t make any difference unless your social media plan is strategic. It must act as your recipe as to “what-when-where-to-post” to ensure anybody pays attention to what you’re whipping up for them to consume.

The first two main ingredients of your school’s social strategy:

1) Integration
No wise marketing strategist would ever convince you to throw your entire pool of marketing resources into a single medium. Rather than ditching your entire “traditional” marketing efforts in exchange for a dazzling social media plan, look more at integrating your social media into your direct mail, print ads, or mass media.

Have scanned QR codes show a video on your school’s custom Facebook page or entice a reader to watch a YouTube video embedded on your admissions’ website page. Draw the reader of your Open House Event postcard to an informative e-book to download at your event page on your site (perhaps requesting or requiring email addresses to track and do important follow up). The important thing is to drive people to specific, high-value content, not just your HOME page. Links to your HOME page are difficult to really measure. Place this on-demand content on specific web pages. Analytics tell you what content resonates.

2) Interconnected
The simplest error to make with your school’s social media system is to create isolated channels that act like the others don’t exist. High-value content has a place on multiple channels but often gets abandoned on the site where it was immediately shared. And because most content creators fail to remember its value, the once-amazing content remains stale, stagnant and sterile. The principle of content revival cures this social media ailment.

Reusing high-value content inside another channel connects your audience to what they are looking for without creating more work for yourself. Recycling the words of a resonating blog post (you know this because of good analytics) into the script of a podcast only makes efficient sense. Re-purposing is the social media secret someone forgot to tell most everyone. Good content creators take what was once great and make it useful again.

While you might prefer to select one social tool and camp in its familiarity, the truth of your task is knowing where your audiences are, and working smarter to get in front of them with the content they need wherever they are. Some of your prospective families are Facebook junkies, while others consume content on Twitter. High-value content, as good as it was when you first posted it, probably was not read by as many people as you think. So rework it into another format for the audiences that missed it the first time. Just because you blogged about “why class size matters” last October, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t resurrect that concept into a compelling video that would play well on YouTube or Pinterest.

Part Two of this series will be posted Sept. 8, 2012, focusing on the third ingredient, the secret sauce to success.

Randy Vaughn

Christian School Marketing Consultant at Your School Marketing

WEB: yourschoolmarketing.com - Randy Vaughn loves consulting with Christian schools on marketing strategy, social media and the "3 Rs of school marketing": recruitment, retention and referrals. Randy is Dallas-Fort Worth's only Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. Randy and his wife, Kelly, have 4 children. The most unique thing about Randy is that he also spent 10 years as a missionary in French-speaking West Africa. Follow Randy on Twitter @schoolmktg