6 Social Media Trends for 2018 Schools Should Know

People looking at mobile phones and word cloud of trends

Social media is ever-evolving at a roller coaster’s pace.

Independent school marketers no longer can depend on daily posts showcasing their school’s best hits to perform well on social media. Gone are the days of boosting an online story with a few dollars and expecting it to find your prospective families. And the old excuse of having no time or staff to plan, monitor and manage your social platforms no longer cuts it.

To attract and retain families to your school, you need to keep up with social media trends. Follow these six trends to make your school’s online presence the best yet.

Organic social reach for businesses is declining.

Facebook’s 2018 news feed change has made an indelible impact on what users see on the social site. Content from friends and family now supersedes content from businesses and organizations. You now have to inspire authentic and meaningful conversation on your page if you want Facebook’s algorithm to take notice of your brand and organically feed your content to viewers. Otherwise, you must put dollars behind you content to spread awareness and get conversions.

Social reach has dropped on other social channels as well, which means referral traffic from social media has dramatically fallen as fewer people click on links from social posts that refer them to websites.

Instagram’s algorithm, like Facebook’s, is determined by what images are most relevant to viewers. Instagrammers are seeing more content from those they follow, engage with and who they care about the most. Unless you’re publishing Instagram images that strike a chord with those followers, they’ll most likely see images from only people or brands they’ve shown the most interest in ahead of yours.

Though Twitter displays tweets from accounts that users follow, the social platform chooses tweets users see in their feeds based on accounts they interact with most. If you’re not getting any likes, retweets or comments on your school’s tweets, then there’s a good chance your school’s posts are at the bottom of the Twitter food chain.

LinkedIn’s algorithm isn’t much different than other social networks. What is different is that LinkedIn users self-identify as business-minded and educated. To attract your community members and alumni on this platform, you’d better put out high-quality, relevant content, and bake in some ad dollars to get the ball rolling.

Strategy: Invest in time, a strategic plan, ad dollars and a social media expert for guidance.  

  • Establish a budget to promote year-round.
  • Treat each of your social platforms as separate entities that host unique audiences.
  • Don’t publish the same content across the board.
  • Learn about the people who use each platform and cater to their likes and needs with content that speaks to them.
  • Become “thought leaders” in the educational social space by sharing content your audience can’t find elsewhere.
  • Ask specific questions that get your viewers excited and talking to you and one another.
  • Connect your content with current events, holidays and trending topics.

Mobile engagement has taken over desktop.

Internet usage by mobile devices has exploded. In 2017, mobile devices accounted for 75 percent of global internet use and is predicted to reach 79 percent in 2018. According to Google research, mobile dominates the internet market, resulting in a whopping 95 percent of all U.S. paid search ad clicks.

So why should you care? Over 3.5 billion people use mobile devices to browse the internet daily to shop, get information and make important decisions. A staggering 57 percent of mobile users say they won’t recommend a business or brand if the mobile experience is poorly designed.

Strategy: Mobile-ize!

  • Is your website mobile friendly? If it’s not optimized properly, Google will reduce your search engine rankings.
  • Improve the loading speed of your website. Forty percent of your website visitors will leave the site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • Publish mobile-optimized content. Mobile viewers only spend 10 to 15 seconds on a page. So, your messages better be clear and concise.
  • Make video 80 percent of your online marketing plan.
  • Keep the registration or sign-up form process painless with simple navigation. Require minimum information from the viewer and as few clicks as possible.

Live video and video are becoming the way of the world.

By 2019, 80 percent of all content consumed online will be video. Research results indicate 82 percent of users would rather watch a video than read a blog post. And live video is outpacing the other types of online video, with a 113 percent increase in ad growth yearly.

Video stories — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — are overtaking news feed posts as the most common way people share content.  According to HubSpot, video on social media generates 1200 percent more shares than text and images combined.

Strategy: Jump on the live video bandwagon!

  • Offer information to prospective families with live video and video.
  • Go live at school events to capture the experience.
  • Share tips and tools for parents and students.
  • Talk strategy in selecting an independent school.
  • Create weekly news shows rather than sending weekly e-news to parents.
  • Share episodic stories about your school that leave the viewer wanting more each time the video ends.
  • Include captions for ALL video – 85 percent of Facebook videos are viewed without sound.

Brands and publishers are paying more to get their messages across and for conversions.

According to research, social media advertising will surpass print advertising by 2020. As social media platforms evolve, and users increase, algorithms are updated to make it nearly impossible for brands to reach a target audience organically. What can you do? Pay to play with year-round advertising to stay top-of-mind.

Marketing is about creating relationships, not selling. With social media advertising, your school can finely target a cold audience by a plethora of demographics, behaviors and interests with valuable and relevant content. Social media ads allow you to grow your following, analyze which customer-generated content works best, target new and current audiences and test various types of ads.

Strategy: Launch an assortment of paid ad types throughout the year:

  • Make frequent use of video ads.
  • Promote your Facebook Live posts to get more traction.
  • Provide welcome stories from the head of school.
  • Give prospects white papers on key issues about your school and what it offers.
  • Offer e-books on subjects, such as how an independent school education differs.
  • Entice prospects with giveaways.
  • Share testimonials from students, parents, alumni and faculty.
  • Re-target people who’ve shown an interest in your ads with additional content that informs and warms them up for conversion to attend an open house, sign up for a shadow day or complete an application.

Social messaging is on the rise.

In five to eight years, 80 percent of communication for personal and consumer use will be done through messaging. In fact, social messaging already has eclipsed social media use. Facebook Messenger alone has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users. And Instagram is in the throes of creating a standalone private messaging app.

Messaging apps are paving the way to more powerful connections between brands and people. A Facebook Nielsen study of Messenger users revealed that 56 percent would rather message than call customer service; and that Messenger communication is their preferred way to communicate, making them feel more positive about, and trust, the business.

Strategy: Master messaging apps to create a journey for new families.

  • Easily ask and get answers to questions via messaging apps.
  • Make or confirm appointments.
  • Offer feedback about their/their child’s experience with your school.
  • Share photos from events.
  • Place ads for higher engagement and conversion results. Sponsored messages also have produced higher read rates as compared to open rates for email messages.
  • Re-engage prospects who’ve clicked on an ad but didn’t visit your website, downloaded an e-book or used the messaging app to ask questions.

Internet chatbots are outperforming other types of social engagement.

An Internet Bot or web robot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive at a much higher rate than humans could.

Simply put, bots help to make your brand human. In concert with messaging apps or your website, bots allow you to have the conversation with your audience. Anything you can do with email, you can do even more with bots. In Facebook Messenger’s first year alone, the creation and use of chatbots jumped from 33,000 to more than 100,000 amongst businesses.

Strategy: Embrace the Bot!

  • Broadcast to groups of people (many people will it read immediately — it’s not an email).
  • Ask questions and get replies.
  • Segment people in different groups.
  • Raise awareness, build campaigns, receive and nurture leads, engagement and conversions.
  • Book appointments.
  • Learn more about creating bots at manychat.com or chatfuel.com.

The social media tide is quickly changing. As social media channels continue to grow and offer new and exciting features, schools must keep up with trends to reach their target audience and learn to navigate and take advantage of the social landscape to achieve their goals.

In the coming months, Kalix Marketing will share more information on this list of trends, as well as those that didn’t make the cut, to help you and your school understand and benefit from these valuable marketing resources.

Gerri Baum is social media and digital lead for Kalix Marketing.

 

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