Today’s Proper Utilization of Social Media

“Things are different today…” – From “Mother’s Little Helper” by the Rolling Stones

Indeed, if things were different in the 1960’s for The Rolling Stones, things are REALLY different today!  Applying Moore’s Law (which deals with the exponential acceleration of a computer’s processing ability) to the rate of change we currently experience, and it’s easy to understand why almost nothing remains constant today.

A little over 10 years ago, the high-tech communication device of choice had a screen and a miniature keyboard which allowed one to create not only text messages but full-blown emails.  Today, Blackberries may be used as paperweights on some desks.  The iPhone, which debuted in 2007, not only caused market disruption but actually buried the competition.  A few years later, a device was released by Apple which Steve Jobs called “the device in the middle.”  It was less bulky and more portable than a laptop or netbook, but larger and more practical than a phone other tasks.  In 7 years, the iPad is now on it’s 4th generation model, complete with a smaller mini version and a larger pro version.

The thing is that we usually experience change once things change.  For instance, you might decide you need a new mobile device or computer, and after you do the research and make the purchase, you experience disappointment because the next version has just been released.  By the way, Moore’s Law says technology now experiences a change about every 18 months.

But right now, we actually find ourselves in the middle of a change that’s happening which deals with social media utilization and marketing.  Several recent articles have spoken about the correct way to build one’s online presence and use social media.  They advise to not create your own content to be shared on social media platforms, but share content created by others that one has found to interesting, pertinent, or laden with value.  The concept can be compared to the difference between using a telephone and a megaphone (http://www.caylor-solutions.com/killer-social-media-success/).  The megaphone is to broadcast your own message to the market, while the telephone encourages communication, so that thoughts can be discussed and commented upon.

See what I did there?  It wasn’t from my experience and observations that I noticed the trend, but I’m citing information that came from another expert in the field.  And that’s what your social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are supposed to be used for.

What does this mean for your marketing efforts?  It means that Facebook is NOT your school’s Web site.  It’s a Web presence, sure, but as was stated in a recent Marketing Matter, your school’s Web site is the face of your school.  It needs to reflect what your school is, what it values, and what it offers to students and their parents.  The design of site is extremely important, since it’s part of your school’s distinctive difference.

All Facebook pages look alike.  And that means that if you’re using a Facebook page as your school’s Web site, it looks the same as the school down the street that’s using a Facebook page as their school’s Web site.  When there’s no perceived difference between the schools, then the lowest price wins.  And that’s detrimental to your school’s long-term sustainability.

Your school’s Web site is where you post the great things about your school, and then can share them on Facebook, or Twitter or even LinkedIn.  All three have a specific audience they can be used to reach.  Facebook is more appropriate for increasing enrollment from parents new to your school community, since it shows what the current school community shares; LinkedIn in more appropriate for development efforts since it can generate business support and connect with alumni.  Twitter can be the bridge between both, linking back to your Website for a complete article about what you’re announcing.

The key to making social media work for your school is for your network of followers to share the information you share with their networks of friends and followers.  Allowing those shares to be shared and commented upon is what builds your brand today.

And that’s a very different manner of marketing than the way it used to be.  Until recently, you controlled your school’s brand.  You could determine what qualities made your school unique, different and remarkable.  One school I’m familiar with adopted a great marketing position: “Where you are called by name.”  It was rooted in Scripture, and fulfilled the need for personalized attention that Millennials and Generation X parents crave.  The problem was that everyone in the school had to adopt the approach for everyone in the school.  All teachers had to know all the students, which was a daunting task in itself.  However, parents expected that teachers and staff members would know their names as well!  The learning: while your school may craft an excellent position and brand identity, it will either be affirmed or criticized by your parent community, and either way, affirmation or criticism will be sharedIt is this process of sharing which will create and reinforce your school’s brand today.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2017 (Original Publication Date: 20170904)