It’s never easy to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media marketing. To stay abreast of the latest trends and best practices, I recently joined the largest annual gathering of social media professionals from around the globe at Social Media Marketing World 2019 (SMMW19) held in sunny San Diego, California in March. A mega-conference to end all conferences, more than 6,000 professionals, marketers and influencers attended to devour the latest social media trends and most proven techniques to leverage social platforms and marketing for their brands and agencies. More than 120 sessions were led by world renowned experts on all the big social platforms, bots, live video, social strategy, content marketing, analytics and video creation and more.
To say that attending SMMW19, sponsored by Social Media Examiner, was an awesome, mind-blowing experience is really an understatement.
It’s hard to sum up such a mega-conference in just one article, but, for now, I’ll share four key take-aways that will be most relevant to your school.
1. It’s Time for Innovative Thinking.
Barriers to innovation such as time, money, policy, rules, culture and management have kept schools from exploring what their prospects really want in order to understand them better. Instead, they take it upon themselves to assume their families wants and needs and promote to them without any thought as to what may really excite them and light a fire in their bellies.
The time has come for schools to “think different” if they want to attract and retain new, young families, and thinking differently means a shift in perspective. Remember when, as a parent, you had to make it seem like it was your child’s idea to wear a particular outfit, clean up his or her room, or behave in a certain manner? When you transition the values and qualities about your school from “my (or the school’s) idea” to “our (the school and the parents’) idea” of what a great school can be, you transfer power to the prospective parent and create a bigger idea (and one the prospective parent may more readily embrace).
Innovation comes from looking outside curiosity and looking where your prospects are.
- What social sites do they engage with?
- What do they read?
- What do they enjoy doing?
- What is most important to them for their child?
Think about the words you use in your content, on your website, in your social media posts. Do they signify barriers, or do they challenge those ideas and open doors to the imagination and new possibilities?
Using visual and audio cues throughout your content along with engaging questions in your offerings, you avoid the barriers to innovation and capture the attention of parents. You allow those prospects to play a role in creating the dream school for his or her child and realizing that your school will fulfill the dreams.
2. When BETTER is BIGGER: Rethinking the Way you do Marketing
We all know that quality surpasses quantity, that making a “big impact” on a smaller number of people surpasses attracting a larger crowd. To make a big impact, you need to get better at developing influence.
Facebook is now a platform that thrives on people connecting, not on content. Schools need to re-think how they use the site to attract and retain viewers by providing value. It’s ok to publish stories that show off what’s happening at your school. But to make the biggest impact, schools must now connect with viewers in conversation. When you offer ideas, people listen, they engage and they talk about you.
Whether your school uses its Facebook page, Facebook Groups, Instagram or any other social site, it’s how you connect with your audience as opposed to just providing daily updates that will have the better and biggest influence on the outcome.
3. Powerful Paths to Connect with and Influence People
Just like reality TV, schools now need to show up and share moments to attract and retain families.
Instagram Stories is an effortless way for schools to connect with people and engage with an audience. It offers a huge opportunity to yield influence through video. The best part is that you only need your phone to shoot and publish your stories. If you can’t produce daily video, then save and aggregate the best to your Instagram Stories Highlights reel. Highlights is front-and-center on your Instagram profile, so it’s perfect for helping new visitors discover what your school is all about.
Yet most marketers and schools don’t use Instagram Stories. Your school can gain the upper hand and leverage this valuable platform to stay in front of your biggest fans – students and parents.
Facebook Live offers schools an awesome opportunity to interact with people. By means of live video, it’s the easiest way to have true meaningful interactions with viewers – something that Facebook has stated it values most when streaming content into users’ newsfeeds.
Whether you broadcast from a sporting event, play, a class demonstration or even a presentation for parents, Facebook Live is the closest thing to a live event. It’s raw, real and an intimate way to connect with your viewers. It builds influence and humanizes your brand.
According to a Pew Research report, 81% of Facebook users also view YouTube. Astonishingly, 1.9 billion monthly users consume video on YouTube at a minimum of 32 minutes per day. Yet, like Instagram Stories, 43% of marketers, let alone most schools, aren’t making use of the platform!
The advantages to using this powerful platform to connect with your audience are numerous and include:
- Subscriptions – People will always be notified when you upload a new video.
- Reminders – You can reach out to people individually and remind them of live video you schedule. You can’t do that on any other platform.
- Viewers will spend a lot more time with your content then they will on any other platform.
- People will connect with you through their viewership and feedback.
As the second most powerful search engine in the world (it’s owned by Google), your school can get ahead of the curve by using YouTube. Create and upload your videos and schedule live events, such as parent presentations or teachable moments that people can observe and participate in. Just remember to:
- Use keywords in the title, copy and tags.
- Create playlists so your videos can be easily found.
- Include calls-to-actions that lets your viewers know what you want them to do.
- Always remind viewers to subscribe. YouTube offer the capability to embed a subscription button into your video.
4. Creating a Sustainable Community with Facebook Groups
Facebook loves community, relationships and engagement. In general, viewers aren’t interested in about 80% of what brands create and share on the platform. If you want to get people talking about your school (remember: developing influence)and be seen in viewers’ newsfeeds, it’s time for your school to become a movement and not just another school page on Facebook.
People now look to Facebook to give them a feeling of community. It’s no longer just about receiving news and updates. Facebook has become a place where people feel important, less judged and credited for the valuable information they have to share. By creating a Facebook Group for your school, you’re giving your audience a place to congregate and freely be able to ask and answer questions, voice their thoughts, concerns and feedback to whatever conversations are taking place.
Here’s what you need to do to create a thriving Facebook Group:
Know your ideal community member. Are they women or men, current parents or prospective families? What are their interests, and do they actively participate on Facebook?
Know what you want to cultivate and not cultivate. Establish strong house rules to create a stronger community where people can feel safe to participate, share and express themselves. Pin posts to the top of the group page that supports your community’s culture and elicits engagement.
Get everyone engaged. This is how you can prime Facebook’s algorithm so that you’re seen in newsfeeds and people think your school is cool. If nobody is engaged, they’ll forget you exist.
The Secrets to Engagement
The proof is in the pudding. And this pudding is made from a variety of ingredients.
- Decide on topics you want discussed in prompt threads.
- Get the community to vote on the prompts.
- Get high engagers to become ambassadors by allowing them to run the prompts and become more well known.
- Reward high engagers with shout outs, encouragement, and celebrations
Vary the types of post you publish and allow to be published:
- Decision posts can come from the top things you ask your community to respond to. They allow group members to make choices.
- Call to arms posts ask people to rally, allowing people to be part of something.
- Opinion posts let members freely express themselves.
Look for upcoming posts on more of what I learned at SMMW19. I can’t wait to share it on the Kalix Marketing blog.
Contact Kalix to put these cutting-edge social media marketing techniques to work for your school.
Gerri Baum is Digital and Social Media Lead for Kalix Marketing.