Cassie Dull is the online communications specialist at Park Tudor School, an independent school in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Whether you already have a clearly defined social media strategy in place at your institution, or you’re just trying to keep your head on straight with all these new tools popping up every week, it’s always a great idea to review your plan for using social media on a yearly basis (and write it down if you haven’t already).
Here are five fundamentals to keep in mind while crafting your institution’s social media strategy:
As I mentioned in my last post on the CASE Social Media blog, Park Tudor’s Twitter audience is largely comprised of people in our local community and the education industry. However, our Facebook audience is mostly comprised of current families and alumni.
Identifying your audiences is the first step to creating goals for your social media strategy. Once you know who is listening to you or talking about you, you can then tailor your content to be interesting to your audience in each particular channel.
Know what your limits are. Time, staff and money to dedicate to social media is different at every institution. Work within your means and be realistic about the time you can efficiently spend on social media. If you have a team of people working on social media, set responsibilities for each team member. If you’re going to invest time or money into a new tool, do your research and make sure it is something that will bring value to your school community.
Post content that is interesting to your followers–blogs, videos, school or department news, “did you know” facts, events, photos, student and alumni stories, etc. If you’re running the Facebook page for the career center, get a student to write a blog about her internship and post the link.
Make a timeline for publishing content. If you’re running a blog, decide if it should be updated weekly or daily. Admissions should take on an aggressive schedule in the fall recruiting season. Alumni should be engaged heavily during homecoming and reunion seasons.
Measurement is still a tricky subject when it comes to social media. The admissions cycle could start with a single tweet and end in an enrolled student, or it could end with the tweet. It’s difficult to measure how social media directly affects any specific area of the institution.
If it’s within your budget, you can subscribe to social media analytics services that will give you great stats on your social media efforts. At the minimum, you should be tracking your Twitter follower counts and Facebook page insights. Take it a step further by keeping track of each mention of your institution, and make a conscious effort to turn each mention into a meaningful conversation.
The final part of your social media strategy should be to craft some attainable and specific goals. These goals should align with your overall marketing strategy and your school’s mission. For each goal, define the desired result, then define which tool(s) and resources you will use, who you intend to reach, who on your staff will have responsibility, what types of content are relevant, how often you should publish and how you will measure the results.
Good luck on crafting your social media strategy! I’d love to hear any tips or questions you might have.
Photo credit: Strategy by Waponi on Flickr (CC BY license).