With the new year comes new initiatives and new marketing goals for your small business or school district. Many school communications departments look to the new year as a way to make an impact by amping up their marketing efforts.
Not all marketing tactics need to be arduous. Sometimes, simple changes to your techniques will be the catalyst your marketing and promotions need to succeed.
In this article, I give you and your school district excellent tactics, techniques, and changes to get your marketing on the right track for 2020.
Easy Marketing Tactics for 2020
The following tactics are simple solutions that can be implemented in less time and take less effort:
1. Update Your Facebook Cover Photo to a Video
Is your Facebook cover photo old? Is it too old?
I would recommend updating this section of your Facebook page at least once a month. I would also recommend upgrading your Facebook cover section with a highly engaging and very visual video.
Video is very engaging, and especially in this highly visible section of your Facebook page. Using a video in this section will drive audience engagement. Pick a highlight video of your district or a very visual video that tells a timely story about your school district.
We recently changed our video in the cover section with a hype video for our district.
Using a video will catch the eye of your audience. They are more likely to view a video in this section because it is what they see first when they visit your page.
2. Update Your Instagram Bio
Instagram is most likely your student’s favorite social media platform. If your school district does not have an Instagram account, you are probably losing excellent opportunities to interact with your students.
According to studies, Generation Z has a strong influence on their parent’s purchasing decisions, which means they probably influence their parent’s decisions about schools and programs they attend. Instagram is a perfect platform to market these choices to these influential students.
Having a relevant and engaging account biography is essential, especially on Instagram, since your bio is the only place you can have URL links except if you have over 10,000 followers on the platform.
As you can see form the above Instagram bio examples, they use familiar logos, and a concise descriptions of what their company is all about.
A mission statement is a great place to start for your description. Emojis are always a cute way to convey your message as well. An d of course, always put your website URL.
Hootsuite has an awesome article to help you construct the perfect Instagram bio. Click Here to Read.
3. Tweet and Post a Simple Phrase on Twitter & Instagram
Although I am a strong advocate of using visuals in my social media, there are times on Twitter where text is the best way to go. And sometimes, a simple hello or encouraging phrase is what your audience wants to see.
Try this on News Years Day…
What are your goals for 2020?
How can we help your children meet their goals?
Insert some smile emojis, and you are good to go. No hashtags. No call to action. No district promotion. Just a simple, encouraging question to show that you care.
You can do the same thing on Instagram using an app like Word Swag to create a visual text message. Since Instagram tends to be a younger audience, why not direct your message to high school students.
What about this…
What can we do to help you achieve your goals?
There are many free photos on the app to overlay your text. Choose wisely.
A simple solution if you do not want to download apps, is to screen shot an engaging tweet and post it on Instagram. Gary Vaynerchuk has an excellent slide deck that shows how to do this in an effective manner. You can download the deck by clicking here.
You can even screenshot the tweet that I suggested above in this section.
4. Reschedule Your Email Newsletter
Have you put much effort in analyzing the time and day you send your email newsletter to your community? When you send your e-newsletter can be just as important as the content. This is why knowing your audience is so important.
As school districts, we have it much more comfortable than companies that cater to a more global audience. We have a better idea when parents and students will check their email.
In my opinion, the perfect time to send your e-newsletter is on Tuesday at 7:45 AM. Adults are most likely to check their email in the morning before they start their work-day. And I would avoid Monday because they will have to go through several emails coming back from the weekend, which makes Tuesday the perfect choice to send your communication.
You know your audience better than anyone, so follow my advice with a grain of salt. However, I have read many studies showing Tuesday mornings being the best day and time to reach adult audiences.
Medium Effort Marketing Tactics for 2020
The following tactics are a tad bit more time consuming and take effort:
1. Find Your Top Ten Engaging Pictures
It does not matter if you use Google Drive, Flickr or some other service to store your photos. Take time this week to collect your top-ten engaging pictures from the past semester and then post one per day on Instagram.
I feel the best pictures are close-up, classroom action shots. The face shows so much emotion. The closer you can get to your subject, the more engaging the image will be.
After you select your top-ten images, you will post one picture per day on your Instagram account. With each image, write copy that helps explains the story the image is conveying. Hashtags can be helpful, but students will accuse you of being Thirsty if you use too many of them.
By selecting highly engaging images, you will notice a higher amount of engagement from your audience.
2. Take an Hour to Leave Facebook Comments
Social media needs to be social. A great way to interact with your audience is to respond to comments on social media.
By taking the time to respond to comments, shows you care, but also encourages conversations on your social platforms. If your audience sees that you respond to comments, they are most likely to post more — platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reward interactions. The algorithms love comments. It tells the equation that your posts are highly engaging.
If you take an hour each week to answer or post conversation-starting comments, you will see your social media engagement increase. And don’t just answer comments on your main district pages. Make sure to show your school accounts some love.
Answering comments is also a great way to improve customer service in your district. This day and age, most people take their concerns on social media. You need to make sure you address these complaints promptly.
This process will take time, but will be worth it. You will begin to see your engagement increase and have a happier audience.
3. Schedule Your Carpool Posts
One advantage that Social Media Managers in a school district have is that we are a local operation. We do not have to worry about a global market or a global audience. We have the benefit that our audience goes to sleep, as well as having set times for our operations.
Being local makes it easier to find perfect times for schools to post on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
By examining our Facebook insights, our district found three important times to post on social media: carpool times (drop-off and pick-up) and our student bedtimes. By utilizing our carpool drop-off and pick-up times, we were able to post important messages for our elementary school parents that drove strong engagement because of the time we posted our content.
Think about what America’s new favorite pastime is… Interacting with their smartphones, especially while in the car. Sitting in the carpool lane waiting for the bell to ring is a perfect time for parents to check their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Capitalize on this to drive engagement.
In CFBISD, our elementary schools start at 7:40 AM and get out at 2:55 PM, so we usually post a elementary school social media message at 7:20 AM and at 2:30 PM to engage with our parents waiting in the carpool line. By doing this we can target the parents who get to the carpool lane early and have the time to check their social media accounts and interact with our content.
4. Create Five Thumbnails for YouTube
Thumbnails are a great way to differentiate yourself from other videos on Youtube. Include pictures and words that will attract viewers to your video. It is all about getting their attention. Think of pictures that will draw people in, but be careful not to trick your audience with pictures that are not related to your video.
Larger Fonts and Creative Pics can make your videos standout while people skim your channel. We are creating thumbnails for all of our past and future videos on our YouTube page.
To get started, I suggest creating thumbnails for your five most recent video uploads on YouTube. These thumbnails will be the most visible on your video channel page.
Millions of videos and billions of video views are produced each year on YouTube. By doing simple things to optimize your videos can help your content stand out.
5. Surprise Teacher Welcome Back Videos
Everyone loves a video, especially from their favorite teacher.
As many of us know in education, your campuses are often safe places for our students. It is their home. It is their family. How about showing your students some love by making personalized videos from their teachers.
This tactic will take coordination, and of course, you will not have 100% buy-in, but the teachers who participate will make an impact in their student’s lives.
Your first step will be creating a unique hashtag for your welcome back message. It needs to define the premise, yet be personable to your school district or campuses. An example would be #welcomebackcfbisd or #2020CFBISD. Whatever you choose, make sure the hashtag is not being used for other campaigns.
After you have established your hashtag, encourage your teachers to post a 15 to 30-second welcome back video for their classes and post them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the chosen hashtag.
This process will take coordination and effort, but the impact will be incredible.
6. Prepare Now to Live Stream Your Graduations
I won’t go into much detail, but planning for graduation now will relieve stress when this event is here.
Start looking at your dates for graduation and begin to plan which platform would be best to stream live video to. All of the major social media platforms now have live streaming capabilities. We choose Facebook, since most of the audience that wants to see this event are parents and grandparents.
If you are looking for general live streaming tips, click here to read my blog post on the subject.
7. Build a Carousel Picture Post for Instagram
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, in recent YouTube episodes, video on Instagram is on the decline. At the moment, images are now more favorable with the platform’s algorithm.
A great way to tell an in-depth story on Instagram when a video is not driving engagement is their carousel option to post multiple images on one post. Multiple images give your audience the capability to swipe through images. A great way to use this feature is to create a timeline of images that tell a story through images and text.
We have done this several times, highlighting the programs we offer at our schools.
A neat idea I have been thinking of is to show the timeline of a student’s journey from kindergarten to graduation (or beyond with alumni). You will need to collect pictures from each one of these milestones – Kindergarten, 5th Grade, 8th Grade, 12th Grade, Graduation, and Alumni images, and then import them on your phone with your district Instagram account.
The next step is to select the carousel option on Instagram and select the order you want the pictures to be loaded. Instagram makes this process very easy.
LinkedIn also has the option to load PDF’s as slideshows if you utilize this platform to communicate.
More Strenuous Marketing Tactics for 2020
The following tactics are more time consuming and take extra effort to complete:
1. Create a Personal Account on TikTok
TikTok is all the rage with Generation Z. It has become the fastest growing social media platform for the past few years to dethrone SnapChat. More than likely, your students are utilizing the platform to tell their stories.
Much like Instagram a few years ago, school districts are afraid to join this platform. It is very eye-opening to browse the videos that are posted. Teens are very open on the platform.
CFBISD has recently launched an account with help from students who are influencers on the platform. We have great success with our videos accumulating thousands of views within 24 hours. We have seen high engagement with our students. It helps that we have recruited students to be in our content. Teenagers are much more trusting of other teenagers.
If you are not comfortable creating a district account. I suggest setting up a personal account and spend a few hours watching the “For Your Page” stream. Like I mentioned above, it is very eye-opening. However, it does give incredible insight into trends and the mind-set of our older middle school and high school students.
2. Create a Blog Post About Transitioning to Middle School
An epic blog post is a catalyst for our content marketing success. Great content fuels social interaction. Good content creates conversations, which lead to engagement, and ultimately, conversions towards enrollment. This is why CFBISD created the School-A-Hoop Parent blog in our district.
An awesome blog post full of useful content will help brand your district as the “Educational Experts”, which will gain the trust of prospective parents, which helps tremendously with Inbound Marketing. Each blog post has some sort of call to action to continue to pull our parents through the inbound pipeline or funnel.
The reason I chose middle school as a powerful article is that through my research, I notice many school districts start losing enrollment because of the perceived fear of students making the transition to middle school. If you do not have a blog, you can post this article in your website news section or as a losing form post on social media.
The more useful content you create will help you gain the trust of your parents.
3. The $1.80 Strategy on Instagram
The moral of the story is to be social. Find teachers, parents and community members who are active on Instagram, and then communicate with them using the comment section on their posts.
Gary Vaynerchuk explains the process in better detail in his video:
You can use this same process to engage with your school district community.
4. Find Your Teacher and Student Influencers
According to reports, 82% of consumers are highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer. That is a significant number! You are not going to find many marketing campaigns with that much influence.
It is my theory that parents tend to care more about their child’s school than the district as a whole. Their feelings are why your teachers are your most valuable micro-influencers. The same holds true with an individual franchise compared to the corporation. Building your employees personal brand is a great way to develop their influencer clout.
Helping them understand the importance of consistent content on social media is a significant first step in building their brand. They need to tell the stories from their classroom. It would also be a great idea to help educate parents by providing them with valuable and relevant content. This process is called Content Marketing.
Micro-Influencers are a significant upcoming trend in marketing, especially for local businesses and school districts. The better you are at finding these internal influencers, the better you will be at having them spread the great things happening in your organization.
Let’s go into 2020 strong! This includes your marketing. Use these simple tactics to jolt your promotions, social media and marketing for the new year. Contact me if you have any questions.