Do your children use social media? Are you a parent interested in an independent school? Are you an independent school considering social media? Social media may just change your world.
Let us briefly examine private schools. Independent school representatives strive to make a name for their school. The goal is for a family or future students to recognize the school as the authority and the best of the best in its sector. Each school has a mission, a unique history and a differentiation factor. Something that sets them apart from thousands of other independent schools.
Social media. Everyone’s doing it. Why not independent and private schools?
Social media is a way for schools to build trust and relationships among current students and families. The conversations will eventually trickle down to alumni, donors and prospective families and students. It’s free, so why not give it a try? Free in monetary terms, but not free in terms of time. Social media is a time investment, because any relationship investment demands time and patience.
By utilizing Facebook and Twitter, schools can learn to listen to communities of interest and then begin conversations with them. Social media will allow the natural flow of conversation among students, parents, alumni, donors and potential families and students. The flow of conversation may not start right away, but listening, responding, reminding and encouraging will help respective communities.
The natural flow of conversation in its essence can lead to a success or a disaster story. Schools will face both positive and negative comments. The negative comments may lead potential families and students to choose a competitor. BUT the negative comments WILL build a school’s character. Negative conversations should drive schools to fix the problem and become even better than before. It is a way to learn from your mistakes so to speak. The more refined character of the school is bound to attract others.
As mentioned before, some of the benefits of social media for private schools include:
- Prospective parents are more likely to trust online reviews from peers than school’s marketing efforts
- Conversations spread quickly
- Social tools make school advocates highly influential
- Natural flow of conversation will lead to discussion and raise awareness
- Build quality relationships at no monetary cost
Some of the downfalls of social media for private schools:
- Time consuming efforts
- Proper response and management of negative conversations
- Fighting the temptation to spam potential families and students with information
- Takes patience and perseverance to see results
Is it a wild idea for schools to get involved in social media? Do you have any success stories? How about disasters? Do you think social media will damage a school’s reputation more than help?
It is absolutely NOT a wild idea for independent/private schools to get involved in social media! In schools, as opposed to traditional businesses selling products on shelves, we have to build relationships to make our “sale.” Social media is RELATIONSHIP marketing. Your audiences are out there on social media – current families, prospectives, alumni, donors, etc. – and they may be talking about you. How will you know what they’re saying unless your school is on social media and listening? It’s just word of mouth in a new location – online. If you do it right, your audiences will become your greatest proponents.
Last week, I came across a prospective mom who wants her son to go to Park Tudor next year. I responded and invited her to an upcoming “See Us in Action” morning, and she signed up within minutes.
Park Tudor School (Indianapolis, IN)
Very nice to meet you Cassie. These are some great points. Social media is of course one of the tools we have today to interact and build relationships. Like you mentioned, it is a great word of mouth location. Except now through this new word of mouth location, a school has an easy access to ongoing conversations that are recorded online for everyone to see! You can then utilize tools such as http://www.socialmention.com/ to view what people are saying about your particular school on social media. Thanks for stopping by!
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