We recently launched a Facebook page on behalf of a school, with students aged four to eighteen. This requires understanding a certain set of rules that need to be considered when planning, creating and engaging its audience. Here are some key considerations we wanted to share about managing a school’s online community:
Strong communities of interest may mean shifting paid media emphasis
As a best practice, if you want to see results on social media nowadays there needs to be a paid media investment to ensure the right people are seeing your post. When it comes to the school community, the target audience is primarily students, parents and alumni who are already highly engaged with the school, both on and offline. Your dollars will be better spent targeting new enrollments or parents whose kids are starting to enter school.
People are key… but remember which people
When looking at a school’s Facebook page, it’s not just a brand sending out a message to an anonymous potential consumer. This school’s approach to storytelling prioritizes delivery through credible, authentic and proximate peer individuals. Each piece of content is especially relevant to the school’s community and in most cases, the individuals featured are personally known to them. This is, however, a great reminder that your current consumers (in this case, students and staff) are not necessarily your most important audience. Prospective and past (alumni) consumers are also a key part of the community and each piece of content should be developed having the entire audience in mind.
Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing
Despite our level of comfort in this area (as communications and marketing professionals), it’s important to consider that this digital age may nevertheless be unfamiliar to some, namely a school principal, some parents of school-aged students or even teachers. Showcasing other success stories and equipping the school’s marketing stakeholders on how to use social media platforms to reinforce relationships and raise awareness of the school’s initiatives is a good start.
You can’t share everything
When thinking about the content you share on a school’s Facebook page, find the right balance between the day-to-day happenings and the achievements that are above and beyond. This can be tricky if you are too close to the community and this is where an outsider’s perspective is key.
The page should not just be used as a noticeboard of nice stories or a place to give someone the spotlight. Try to think with an “outside-in” perspective – focus on information that is topical and relevant to your audiences, not just to those on the inside. Setting clear objectives before launching a page will help guide you on developing content that is interesting to your community.
Visual identity is key
Social media may be unfamiliar territory so you must stress the importance of a visual identity that is immediately ownable. Establishing a social media aesthetic isn’t something that can happen overnight, but it is key to your success. It’s important to ensure the page respects the brand’s look and feel, which requires some planning, but the results are well worth the time you put in!
Harriet Elgar-Cocks is a community manager on the Content team, Edelman Sydney.