If your current social media efforts aren’t quite making the grade for your school, then it’s time to rally the troops! By inviting your most loyal families, alumni, faculty and community members to be Ambassadors for your school, you will spread the good news in an authentic way that reaches a broader audience, cultivates relationships with prospect and elevates the conversation.
What is an Ambassador Program?
Ambassadors embody your school’s identity. They mirror your school’s values, ethics and appearance through the social media channels that they’re most familiar and engaged with. Through posting, liking, commenting on, sharing and writing about your school, Ambassadors have the ability to reach out into the community and position your school as a premier institution. They give their followers a clear sense of your school’s unique services, ethos and philosophy. Most important, Ambassadors drive the conversation, which helps shape your online reputation.
Using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as blogging, Ambassadors help to generate the all-important buzz. They boost your school’s reach to a larger audience across the digital space and can drive people to your website. Through authentic posts and comments, Ambassadors can cultivate relationships with prospective families and communities by inspiring and influencing them to consider enrolling their children.
Recruit and retain the best Ambassadors.
- You want ambassadors with an affinity to your school and a fluency with social media. Review your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels to see which alumni, parents, faculty and friends consistently engage with your content. Find out if you have any writers in the group who like to blog.
- Determine who will invite them. The Head of School with a phone call? Make it special.
Prepping Ambassadors for their important work.
- Host an Ambassador kick-off party to create team spirit and explain the program.
- Give the program a name that connects to your school. Empower group members to participate in this process.
- Select an Ambassador leader and/or program manager to oversee online activities, communicate to the Ambassador group and report activity to your Communications Office.
Give out a “Welcome” kit that includes:
- A manual with expectations, updated school stats, social media best practices, guide to your school’s branding and contact information.
- Guidelines on how to manage your school’s reputation online and how to handle online escalations.
- Spirit Swag: t-shirts, etc. If your budget allows, create branded items just for the Ambassadors.
Showcase your Ambassadors.
- Start a Facebook Group for your Ambassadors for you to easily share your school’s updates, information, events and to address any issues and expectations. This gives your Ambassadors an easy forum to communicate ideas, successes and experiences.
- Allow Ambassadors to modify the content supplied to some degree, as it’s important to for them to freely and easily share information in their own voice.
- Create an Ambassadors Program tab on Facebook with a photo and brief bio of each Ambassador. Include a quote about what they love about your school. If your school blogs, publish a post on each Ambassador and encourage them to link those articles to their social media sites.
- Profile Ambassadors on your website.
- Create either a custom Facebook Profile Frame Overlay or a Twibbon frame campaign for your Ambassadors profile images. Not only does this make their profile images stand out in the newsfeed, but it’s also a creative and colorful way for Ambassadors to show their affinity and spread awareness about your school. Keep in mind that a Facebook Profile Frame Overlay can only be used for Facebook, a Twibbon frame, however, can be applied to both Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Show them some love.
- Thank your Ambassadors with free tickets to your school’s paid events, breakfast or lunch with your head of school or board chair, special offers that your school’s board members or other influencers might be willing to extend (symphony or sports tickets, etc.).
- Hand-written notes from the Head of School, Director of Development, etc. with a gift card for a coffee shop, etc. are always appreciated.
- Invest in any tweaks that Ambassadors suggest. They’re giving ideas and feedback because they care and are invested.
- When new programs and initiatives roll out, give Ambassadors a heads-up with all the details, photos and stats, so that they feel in the loop and can share your school’s news.
Measure, Measure, Measure!
It’s important to track the effectiveness of the program. Important metrics to measure:
- Number of people engaged online with each Ambassador.
- Number of comments, ‘likes’, retweets and shares of content published.
- Sentiment of comments and feedback published by others.
- Number of prospective families/students recruited for Open House and other events.
- Increased qualified leads and referrals.
Monitor the posts of your Ambassadors regularly and offer suggestions, tweaks, etc.
Working with a trusted, enthusiastic team of social media volunteers is a great way to boost your school’s presence across several platforms. Kalix is happy to help you plan an Ambassador Program, create a social media strategy or other digital initiatives. Contact us.
An expert in all things social media, Gerri Baum is Kalix’s Social and Digital Lead.
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