We’re entering the time of year where most faith-based and private schools are starting two very important processes – the application process and the budget process.
The application process allows families to apply to the school for admission and enrollment for their children (while the re-enrollment process for those parents whose children are already students), and the budget process starts to determine what tuition will be for the coming school year.
For Catholic schools, it’s also Catholic Schools Week, the time when most Catholic schools should be solidifying their school’s current enrollment, and capitalizing on their enrollment efforts which began at the start of the school year to enroll new students (and if you’ve just thought you’ve really not focused on either of those things due to activities like taking temperatures of students, shifting between in-school and remote learning, dealing with sports schedules and creating different ways to Celebrate Catholic Schools this year, then you’ve just learned that there’s always more to do, and you probably need to think about doing things differently moving forward).
This is the time you need to kick your social media utilization into high gear. It’s no longer acceptable to think that social media is “a nice thing to use” if you have the time for it. Frankly, it’s essential to how your school communicates with parents of current students as well as parents of prospective students. As for the latter group, if they’re interested in enrolling their child in your school, they’re probably already following your school, looking at your school’s Web site, and checking out the ratings of your school on sites like Private School Review, Great Schools and Niche.
Ten years ago, Twitter was coming into vogue. While it started in 2006, it really took off in 2008 as part of the Barack Obama’s strategy during his bid for the White House. In 2011, I encouraged schools to start using Twitter, and make a habit of sending “A Tweet a Day” to complement their Facebook presence and direct followers back to the school’s Web site for more information. Five years ago, the more adventurous social media advocates started using Instagram to share photos of their school activities (with permissions in place if photos of students were included).
In 2014, 75% of women 30-49 years of age (your school’s target demographic) used Facebook, and 25% used Twitter (Data source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/demographics-of-key-social-networking-platforms-2/). Today, those percentages have increased slightly – 77% of people 30-49 years of age use Facebook and 54% of them are women. The most interesting statistic about Facebook is that 96% of Facebook users access it on their mobile device! Therefore, if your Facebook posts have a link back to your school’s Web site, and it’s not mobile-responsive, your school will be perceived as “outdated.” I know of one school that was very proud of their new Web site several years ago, and upon visiting it, it looked like it was created in the early 2000’s and didn’t function well at all on a mobile device (text was too small, and horizontal scrolling was necessary). That school is no longer open.
Five years ago, Twitter and Instagram usage within the 30-49 demographic was about the same (25%), but today, Twitter is at 26% while Instagram is at 47%. Therefore, if you’re still sharing photos of your events on Twitter rather than Instagram, it’s probably time to make the switch – or add it to your social media mix.
But there’s one social media channel that has even more users than Instagram and Twitter today – and that’s YouTube. 68% of your target demographic uses YouTube. It’s something I’ve discovered as time advances. People don’t read…but they’ll watch a video.
And, they can follow your YouTube Channel too. Don’t have one? Get one. Start today – February 1, 2021. Give it 7 months – through September 1, 2021. Be sure to track usage to determine if some of the parents of newly-enrolled students found out about your school this way. Monitor and analyze your other media channel usage to see if they’ve heard about your school from other parents or their friends. The key to social media success is content sharing, and spreading the good news. When it’s about your school, we call that Marketing; when it’s about our faith, we call that Evangelism.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2011-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20110131)