School social media remains one of the best ways to communicate with families and market your school.
With nearly four billion users across all platforms, school social media is a great way to communicate with families and faculty — as well as boost your student enrollment, promote the daily happenings in your school, and build your school’s online brand and reputation.
Perhaps your school has a phenomenal use of social media. Perhaps you use social media but it’s not your focus. Or maybe your school doesn’t bother with social media at all.
If you fall into the latter category and are wondering if social media is worth your time, yes! Your school needs social media:
- Families are active there. The typical internet user spends two-and-a-half hours on social media each day.
- Social media creates an opportunity for families to ask questions and engage with you.
- School social media can function as a student recruitment tool and plays a role in the enrollment process.
- You can measure how effective your social media efforts are with in-platform analytics.
Now for why you’re here: learning how to market your school on social media with 20 tips and best practices!
Table of Contents
- Set Goals for Your School’s Social Media
- Audit Your School’s Social Media
- Ensure the Accuracy of Your School’s Information
- Choose Your Primary Social Media Platforms for Your School
- Designate a School Social Media Point Person
- Plan a School Social Media Calendar
- Post Variety, Post Consistently, Post Quality
- Gather User-Generated Content for Your School
- Promote Your School’s Social Media
- Engage with Followers to Expand Your Reach
- Use Data to Drive Social Media Decisions
- Automate Your Posting
- Run School Social Media Ads
- Identify Your Best Posting Times
- Reuse Content as Much as Possible
- Target the Right Audience
- Ask for Reviews
- Create Facebook Groups for Current Families and Graduates
- Incorporate Social Media Into Your Emergency and Crisis Communication Plan
- Host Social Media Training for Staff
1. Set Goals for Your School’s Social Media
Setting goals for your school’s social media matters because you’ll have something to aim for and be able to get buy-in from leadership when you make larger requests, such as getting an advertising budget for social media ads.
Think hard about what you want to accomplish with your school’s social media. Do you want to attract new students? Gain followers? Deepen engagement with families? Share school communications?
You probably want to do all of those things. Setting SMART goals — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — for your school’s social media plan will help you:
- Manage your budget (if there is one).
- Justify your investment of time and resources into social media.
- Ensure your school’s social strategy is aligned to the school’s wider goals.
2. Audit Your School’s Social Media
Once you’ve decided what you want to accomplish with your school’s social media, determine where it stands currently. Start by reviewing some basic information about your platforms:
- Which platforms do you have a presence on? There are tools that can help you find “stray” social media accounts. Try one out. You might be surprised by a school Twitter account that was abandoned 10 years ago.
- When was the last time your accounts were active? Was it last week, last month, or even last year? And who’s responsible for posting? If you send the account a DM, does it get a response?
- Is your school’s information accurate and consistent across platforms?
What’s important here is to take a critical look at what you’re working with and determine how aligned with your goals your social platforms currently are.
If you’re interested in learning more about doing a self-guided school marketing audit, download our free school marketing guide here.
Audit your competition, too.
You probably have a good idea of who your “competition” is. Include in your audit a quick review of what schools in your area are doing on social media:
- What platforms are they using?
- How often do they post?
- What are they posting?
- Which of their posts get the most engagement?
This review of your competition doesn’t need to be ultra-detailed. With some basic information, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors — and the opportunities for you to swoop in and have the best school social media around.
3. Ensure the Accuracy of Your School’s Information
All platforms ask for the same general basic information: your school’s name, address, phone number, a brief description, logo, and so on.
- Make sure this information is accurate and identical across all platforms. Using different logos can confuse families on whether they’re looking at the right page.
- If you have a different phone number on your Facebook page versus on your school’s website, a parent may not know which number is best to call.
- If your presence across platforms varies wildly, people may question the professionalism of your organization.
- Click all links (such as your website’s URL), email all contact email addresses, and call all phone numbers just to be sure everything works.
4. Choose Your Primary Social Media Platforms for Your School
Your school social media options are plenty, spanning from the major players — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — to the barely used (did you know Myspace still exists?).
I recommend establishing a presence on the two major social media platforms for schools — Facebook and Instagram — and getting a YouTube account.
Also, know that it’s best to do a few platforms well than to do many platforms poorly.
Why are Facebook and Instagram so important for schools?
It’s all about the massive population on each platform and the age breakdown of the people using it:
- 77% of adults 30–49 years old are on Facebook. That age group makes up a huge chunk of your target audience: millennials!
- Instagram’s user base is an impressive 77.7% of people ages 18 to 44 years old. That age range captures your entire target audience — millennials as well as young Gen Z parents.
You can create a school account on TikTok and other platforms if you wish, even if it’s just to claim your name so that no one can use your school’s likeness for parody or malicious purposes (not that any high school kid I know of would ever do that).
Also, not every platform will reach the right audience for every message. If you’re announcing an upcoming Open House event, Facebook and Instagram will reach your target audience better than TikTok. Now, if your cheerleaders want to show off a new cheer? By all means, use TikTok!
5. Designate a School Social Media Point Person
Choose a person who will run point with your school’s social media accounts. For school leaders who are already stretched thin, you’ll benefit from having someone manage social media.
This person will coordinate resources, enlist help from the school community, and be accountable for reaching social media goals. When you have a question or request, you’ll know who to go to.
Even if your school or district can’t budget for a dedicated social media manager, you can still get everyone involved and maximize your marketing resources. We offer some tips on how you can get students involved in this recent article.
6. Plan a School Social Media Calendar
With a social media calendar, you’ll avoid scrambling each day, frantically wondering what you should post. You can plan out content in advance to align with school initiatives, holidays, events (e.g., the 100th Day of School, Teacher Appreciation Week, etc.), and deadlines.
Your calendar will also determine how frequently you post. If you can manage only two or three posts a week, that’s fine.
What should be on your school’s social media calendar?
- What you will be posting
- When you will be posting it
- What the post will say
- What assets the post will need
There are tons of social media calendar templates out there, so it's just a matter of finding one that works best for you. You can also make your own with a simple month-by-month calendar spreadsheet.
7. Post Variety, Post Consistently, Post Quality
Three things go into a great school social media timeline: variety, consistency, and quality. What that means is you want to consistently post a variety of high-quality content.
People use social media for many reasons. Some want to keep in touch with family. Others want news articles or funny videos.
Your current students and parents will want school updates. Prospective families will want to get an idea of who you are.
Keep a variety of content on your calendar to keep your timeline interesting and to hit on all the different ways people like to digest information. For example, create posts that use infographics, videos, photo sets, polls, and more.
Here are some ideas for your school’s social media calendar:
- Infographics (dress code, drop-off and pick-up reminders, etc.)
- Faculty and teacher features (get your teachers involved in your school’s marketing!)
- User-generated content (more on that in the next tip)
- Social post themes (Motivational Monday, Teacher Tuesday, Way-Back Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Fun Fact Friday, etc.)
- Events and important dates (back-to-school night, orientation, testing, enrollment deadlines, etc.)
- Seasonal content (such as local, national, and international holidays)
- Updates from your school or principal’s blog
Consistency is important for school social media because you “train” your audience to expect regular updates from you. Additionally, anyone looking at your profile will see that you’re active and engaged. It’s not a good look to go on a school’s profile and see it was last updated in 2019.
Lastly, the algorithm prioritizes pages that post frequently. Note, though, that this doesn’t mean spamming your audience. Provide quality content at daily or twice-daily intervals, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
And really, if in doubt, worry less about how much you’re posting and more about the quality of it. If you have multiple great things to share in one day, do it. There are no rules in social media (well, except the ones you agreed to when signing up; you did read that user agreement, right?).
There’s only social media best practices for schools — and even then, those best practices are flexible and dependent upon your situation.
A high-quality social media post contains information your audience wants to see.
It’s the warm-and-fuzzy posts that get your families excited to see their children. It’s the funny videos your students and teachers make. It’s a hilarious selfie of your principal with the custodians or your cafeteria team’s latest creation.
It’s #ThrowbackThursday photos of your teachers then versus now — or a post celebrating a high school graduate headed to Yale in the fall, such as this one from Glendale Unified School District:
Your followers want posts that are informative, funny, thought-provoking, or authentic.
These posts will connect them deeper to you, which increases the chance they’ll do what you want them to do: like, comment, share, and follow you for more. If they’re a new parent, this may even be the impetus they need to start the enrollment process with you.
8. Gather User-Generated Content for Your School
User-generated content (UGC) is content that someone outside your organization creates and lets you use. The key advantages of user-generated content are that it’s authentic, gets your community engaged with you, and lightens your workload.
Here’s an example of UGC in action, courtesy of the social media masterminds of National Geographic. Notice how they credit the original poster and use appropriate hashtags to expand their reach:
How can you implement user-generated content into your school’s social media strategy?
- Host a contest (art competition, costume contest, etc.) and ask families to submit their entries.
- During significant days, like the famous First Day of School, ask families to share their photos.
- When a parent or guardian tags you in something on social media, reshare it!
One source of UGC can be the posts found in hashtags related to your school or community. If you have a unique or recognizable school name, this may be easier than if you have a common school name (like #CentervilleHigh).
Just be sure to ask if it’s all right for you to repost their content.
9. Promote Your School’s Social Media
Any chance you get, promote your school’s social platforms. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Place social media icons and link out to your platforms on your school’s website. Make sure those pages are linked correctly.
- Call out your social media accounts in school materials, both printed pieces and digital content.
- When in contact with parents and guardians, remind them to follow you.
- Place links to your social media accounts in your school email footer.
- Link to your other platforms on each platform by using a platform-linking tool.
In the image below, notice the dark blue link in the Instagram bio of Memphis-Shelby County Schools.
They use a tool called Lnk.Bio, which makes it easy for you to link your social media accounts (plus other links, such as your website, enrollment page, etc.) in one place. LinkTree is another popular tool for this.
10. Engage with Followers to Expand Your Reach
Encouraging followers to like, comment, and share your posts is a mantra for increasing your school’s followers on social media. Posts with high engagement rank higher in people’s feeds than posts with little engagement.
This creates a ripple effect: When someone interacts with a post, that post will then appear on the timelines of people they know, which expands your account’s reach to people who don’t even follow you.
Sarah is a parent whose child is enrolled with you. Sarah follows your school on Facebook. You post a picture, and Sarah likes and comments on the post. Nathan is friends with Sarah, but he doesn’t follow your school’s Facebook. But because he is friends with Sarah, the post appears on his timeline, too.
Additionally, if someone comments with a question, answer it! If they leave a comment, acknowledge it.
What about negative comments?
Don’t focus on them. If it’s a serious matter, invite the person to give you a call or send an email. If it’s someone just “trolling,” hide their comment. They’ll see their remark, but no one else will.
On Facebook, you can also filter specific words or turn on a profanity filter. You can learn more about filtering keywords and profanity in this article from their help center.
11. Use Data to Drive Social Media Decisions
While you can get very technical with social media data, even high-level insights can drive big improvements with your school’s accounts. For example:
- Where do you have the most followers?
- Which of your posts get the most engagement?
- What times and days of the week do people engage with your posts?
Even if you can answer only those questions, you can learn which platform deserves the bulk of your energy, what you should post more of, and when you should post it.
Now, if you want as much data as possible, a social media management platform can yield truly valuable insights, automate your school social media posting, and generate reports.
12. Automate Your Posting
Any school doing social media should use a social media/content management platform (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, HubSpot, etc.). These platforms offer data reporting and automation tools. Many of these platforms offer a free version, too.
Switching from manual to automatic posting will make you much more efficient. Even better, if you take a day off or go out on vacation, you can schedule your posts in advance. Say goodbye to managing social media while on vacation!
If you invest time upfront creating “evergreen content,” automating your posting will be even easier.
What is evergreen content?
Evergreen content is content with a long shelf life — meaning it’s something you can reuse many times because it has little to no seasonality. For example, a post about your upcoming Open House isn’t evergreen because there’s a specific date and time it’s happening.
These three blog posts, for example, are evergreen for us:
For your school, here are some ideas:
- An instructional video (ex. one that shows people how to start the enrollment process with you or explains how to register for a personal school tour)
- An informational or entertaining video (ex. a broad-strokes video tour of your facilities)
- Bite-sized school tips and reminders you can post throughout the year
- Educational articles and fun “listicles” (ex. Top 10 Things to Do in Your First Year at [School])
13. Run School Social Media Ads
Advertising your school on social media will get your school in front of brand-new audiences — such as prospective parents who don’t know your school even exists.
To reach new families and increase your enrollment, add paid advertising to your school’s social media strategy for Facebook and Instagram.
First, a quick distinction between organic and paid social media posts:
- Organic social media posts are free to post. You can get on your school’s account, type whatever you want, and hit post. These posts go out to your current audience.
- Paid social media posts, of course, are those you pay for: ads. These posts go out to the exact audience you want to target.
One thing to know about organic and paid social media is that you can boost organic posts. When you boost a post, you put a bit of money behind the post to boost its reach to new audiences.
To expand your school’s reach beyond your current audience and achieve your social goals, advertise your school on social media.
Paid ads can get new families to enroll with you, and they can also be used to promote informational content to a wider audience.
For an example of a school enrollment ad, check out this one from the Facebook account of Thrive Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
Notice how the ad gets across all the most important information and offers an Apply Now button that takes the user directly to their enrollment form.
The key benefit of school social media ads is that you can target people in a set geographic area.
When you run ads for your account, you can rest assured you won’t be wasting money advertising your school to families across the country.
Additionally, with social media ads, you can get your message across to people who haven’t followed your school on social media, changing their perception of your organization.
Need help with social media ads for your school?
While paid school ads are something you can do yourself, it can take a bit of time to learn best practices for school social media advertising. So if you have the budget to run some school social ads, let SchoolMint help!
SchoolMint offers a social media advertising solution for K-12 charter schools and districts. With this solution, you’ll work with a consultant to advertise your school on Facebook and Instagram.
Let us be the social advertising experts so that you can sit back and work on the things that require your attention.
14. Identify Your Best Posting Times
Identify the best times to post for your school’s social media so that you’re serving up content to your followers when they’re most likely to be checking the platform. When is the best time and day to post?
The social media marketing experts of Sprout Social report that, in a review of 30,000 Sprout customers, the best time to post was 9:00 to 10:00 AM, Tuesday through Thursday.
However, social media for schools can work a little differently. As a general guideline, the best time to post for your school should align with the times your families are most likely to be checking social media:
- Early in the morning
- At lunch time
- During your carpool line in the afternoon
15. Reuse Content as Much as Possible
Content in all its various forms takes significant time and effort to create. But I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s okay to reuse content.
By recycling content, you’ll save a lot of time (and potentially money) by reusing or repurposing content. Additionally, your whole audience won’t see something the first time you post it.
For example, say you create a guide to all the clubs at your school. You could then use the guide and individual pieces from it in your school’s marketing efforts. For example:
- For your Facebook, use graphics from the guide to highlight the different clubs and why the members love it.
- For your school’s Instagram, make swipeable posts with a picture and quote that introduce the faculty member who heads up each club.
- For YouTube, create a fun, informal video introducing your programs and why they’re so fun.
For example, Gunston Middle School in Arlington, Virginia, made this video featuring the faculty sponsor of each program and some students:
You can take one idea very far. While it requires some initial effort, once you’ve created your various pieces, you’ll have a lot of content to use and repurpose.
To get started, think about what your school offers that makes you a great education option. If it’s your high placement of students in prestigious universities, create content about your students’ incredible academic achievements!
16. Target the Right Audience
By and large, your school’s audience will be your current families (and teachers). They want school updates and to be reassured their child is safe and receiving a high-quality education.
However, don’t ignore potential families either. When a new family is looking to enroll somewhere, they’ll likely scope out your school’s social media.
They’ll form an impression of you based on what they see. The reviews on your Facebook page will shape their opinion. The tone you take in posts will give them a sense of your school’s “personality.” And what they actually see posted will form their perception of what to expect from your school.
So while you’re mostly posting for your current families, keep in mind your school’s social media does play a role in student recruitment and enrollment.
A post like this (from the Instagram of Hartford Public Schools CT) would appeal to both current and new families:
17. Ask for Reviews
The importance of school reviews can’t be overstated. Having multiple school reviews boosts your school’s search engine ranking — a key part of making your school discoverable even to families who may not know your school by name.
Good reviews also give prospective parents and guardians a great first impression of your organization.
- Learn more: How to Use School Review Sites to Your Advantage
You can ask families and school staff to leave reviews on your school’s Facebook page so that when potential new parents visit your school’s Facebook, they’ll learn firsthand that your school is a great place for their child to get an education.
Bonus: ask individuals if they can review the key aspects and differentiators of your school. The best reviews will speak to what makes your school stand out.
Here is an example of great Facebook reviews for the Bronx High School of Science in Bronx, New York. Note that their review listing page features testimonials from both parents, former students, and teachers:
18. Create Facebook Groups for Current Families and Graduates
On Facebook, schools commonly create groups for current families, faculty, and alumni. Keep the good word-of-mouth testimonials flowing by creating a Facebook group, and reach out to current families and alumni to join.
You can use this group as an additional communication channel for school-related news and use it to keep in touch with alumni.
Best of all, a school Facebook group will increase the organic reach of your social media posts to the members of the group.
You can also control whether the group is public or private. For example, in addition to their regular Facebook page, Blackstone Valley Prep in Rhode Island also has a closed group for parents:
In the description of their group, they outline some guidelines for posting in the group as well as who is and is not allowed to join.
Bonus: remember how I mentioned user-generated content earlier? Creating a Facebook group can be a goldmine for obtaining UGC.
Imagine it’s Spirit Week. You can make a group post asking families to submit their best school-spirit photo. A few days later, you can then share these photos, demonstrating to the public that your school is a fun, engaging place that students love to support.
19. Incorporate Social Media Into Your Emergency and Crisis Communication Plan
No one wants an emergency or crisis to befall their school. But the unfortunate truth is they do happen, and schools need a communication plan for these instances.
If something happened tomorrow — for example, a fire, tornado, or power outage — how would you communicate to everyone on and off campus?
Social media should be part of your crisis communications. When there’s a campus emergency, social media can be a quick place to update everyone on the situation, what you’re doing, and if authorities are involved.
Even if your organization has an automated messaging system in place, social media alerts will help spread awareness to people who miss the system. Never assume that one message will reach 100% of contacts at the same time.
20. Host Social Media Training for Staff
Each person — teachers, staff, leadership, and students — in a school can help your social media marketing efforts.
However, using social media may not be something everyone is comfortable with. Hosting training can help get staff on-board and learn some best practices for school social media.
Here are some things that training may cover:
- The importance of social media for your school. Be sure to cover your organization’s social media usage policy, too, if one exists.
- Why staff should follow each of your accounts and to champion your school when they see posts come up: like, comment, share!
- Putting your social media links in their email signature so that any person in communication with them has direct access to your accounts.
- How teachers can participate in your social media marketing efforts by providing photos, student achievements, classroom updates, and stories (e.g., “Mr. Walburton’s tenth-grade biology class got a surprise when a pigeon flew into their classroom this morning!”).
What are you doing to promote your school on social media and grow your following?
Social media continues to be an important communication channel for schools, and definitely it’s one you can’t ignore. And to reach Millennial and Gen Z parents, you must be in the digital space — which is often the best and (sometimes only) way to reach your target families.
SchoolMint can help you promote your school on social media with our school advertising solution.
Learn how you can increase your enrollment with our social media advertising platform!
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