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Building a Successful Social Media Strategy for Schools

Building a Successful Social Media Strategy for Schools

In today's connected world, social media marketing has become an essential tool for colleges and universities looking to reach and engage their student audience effectively. With the right approach and focus, educational institutions can use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter to engage with students and alums, improve their brand reputation, and reach out to prospective students.

Nearly 4.6 billion people worldwide actively used social media platforms in 2022. That's more than half of the global population. Finding ways to leverage what has become the most influential global communication channel can make all the difference in reaching your audience and accomplishing your marketing goals. 

It's not just about understanding the importance of social media marketing for schools. It's also about crafting the right strategy and engaging in the right tactics to reach your audience beyond vanity metrics. This guide can help you to get started. 

Table of Contents:

The Benefits of a Social Media Strategy for Universities

Make no mistake: social media strategies for universities are worth the investment. Social channels are top of mind for students researching potential colleges to attend. These channels' organic and engaging nature can go a long way toward getting your core brand value propositions across.

At the most basic level, a solid social media presence allows you to be where your students are and where they will find your competitors. Moreover, a strategic effort on social media can set your presence apart from your competition, providing a superior experience to drive engagement.

Creating a Social Media Strategy for Your College

In 2023, most colleges and universities will likely have a social media presence. The key, then, is no longer just about joining the fray. It's to ensure that everything you do follows a comprehensive strategy designed to drive brand perceptions and engage your audience.

Creating a social media strategy for your college, as a result, has to include a few important components: 

1. A clear outline of the goals. 

You're trying to achieve with social media. Ideally, those goals are SMART, meaning they are both specific and grounded in a particular time frame.

2. A definition of your audience. 

You're likely trying to reach prospective students, but what do those students look like, and what characteristics do they share? How do current students and alumni play into the equation? Creating buyer personas can help.

3. A budget available to spread the word on social. 

Many of your efforts will be organic, but being able to run paid advertising campaigns or even boost organic posts provides additional possibilities for reach and engagement.

4. The channels you will use. 

We'll discuss this component more below, but in a general sense, choosing the channels your core audiences are most likely to spend their time on will make or break the success of your strategy.

5. A timeline for any campaigns. 

Building a timeline early helps you stay on track for building an initial presence and growing that presence over time.

This guide and template can help you get a start on building a social media strategy outline. Formalizing your strategy early can help you stay on track and generate buy-in from stakeholders across campus.

The Ideal Platforms for Higher Education Social Media

Gone are the days when a social media strategy was essentially Facebook or bust. Today, so many channels are available to colleges and universities that choosing can be difficult.

But choose you must. We recommend starting with an active presence on only 2 to 3 social media channels and expanding your presence from there. 

Some of the most common options include:

  1. Instagram, which has quickly become the go-to platform for Millennials and Gen Z.
  2. Facebook, which has faded in importance for younger audiences but continues to be effective in reaching parents and alumni
  3. Twitter, whose audience is more niche but tends to be very engaged on topics relevant to them.
  4. LinkedIn, designed for professionals (like your alumni) and business experts.

Of course, you have other options as well. TikTok, for example, has grown rapidly in popularity among Gen Z. Its organic video-based interface requires a drastically different approach from some of the channels mentioned above, so it's best reserved for advanced marketers.

Creating a Content Strategy to Implement Social Media Ideas for Your College

With the proper channels in place, it's time to start talking content. That conversation, in turn, always begins with a content calendar that helps you plan a regular posting schedule across your channels. 

Knowing how often you need to post is only the beginning. The next step is understanding how different content types can be successful on various networks. For example, visual content works exceptionally well on Instagram, while Twitter and LinkedIn benefit from more text-heavy content. 

And, of course, you'll need to start thinking through different content ideas and how to execute them. That means it's time to embrace storytelling and get creative in getting your brand messaging out in the digital marketing world. It's a complex process but much more manageable when couched in the confines of your strategy and editorial calendar. 

How to Measure the Success of Your School's Social Media Marketing Strategy

Refrain from automatically assuming that your social media strategy will be successful. Instead, any strategy must include a component to assess current and past efforts to look for improvement opportunities. In other words, it's time to start talking about analytics. 

Create a rubric that helps you measure the success of each post based on a few core metrics, including:

  1. Reach and impressions, or how many people your content has reached.
  2. Engagement, or how much of that reach resulted in some type of interaction.
  3. Website clicks, or how much engagement consisted of users wanting to learn more.
  4. Shares, or how many users found your content so compelling they wanted to share it with their network.

Looking at the analytics for these metrics will help you identify patterns over time. You'll begin to learn what types of content work and which don't. Those insights, in turn, lead to a better and more fine-tuned social media strategy for higher education.

How the Right Social Media Campaign Ideas Can Help Your School Adopt and Adapt

Social media is a complex topic, and it continues to evolve. Only a strategic effort can help your school make the most of this effort, adapting to changing channels and audience preferences. 

The good news is that you're not on your own. A reliable, higher-ed-focused marketing partner like Sonority Group can help you optimize your social media strategy and execution over time. Ready to get started? Let's chat! 

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