Social sites provide communication, resources, or entertainment to a varied audience for multiple reasons, including research, networking, or community building. Current students and graduates use social networking as a means to stay current with their school. By now, your school either is using social networking as a marketing tool, or wondering what you need to do to get in the game.
Making the decision to launch a social networking program requires a commitment to post and update content on an ongoing basis. Schools should have an enthusiastic and dedicated associate overseeing the program.
Editorial content should be updated weekly, while blogging requires more dedication than beyond a weekly to-do list. "Tweets" or blogs should be posted at least twice per week. Blog about informational and interesting topics. Let your audience know what you are doing, and don't be afraid to put some personality into it. Like any other advertising, it needs to be appealing and informative.
Career schools should look to be on five to ten of the top social sites their target market populates. Depending on the site, content varies, with editorial, photo, and video all being part of the mix. Some questions to ask about your organization prior to launching a social marketing program are:
1. What are five reasons prospective students would want to attend our school?
2. What local events, charities, or sponsorships are we involved in?
3. What extracurricular or community activities do we offer?
4. What industry associations do we belong to?
5. What branding elements do we want to incorporate?
How are you going to get your message across? Content, content, content! Some additional news and information you can use to promote your school could include:
•Photos of admissions representatives.
•Open house dates.
•Program awareness nights.
•Financial aid nights.
•High school events.
•Photos of campus events.
•News articles associated with your campus.
•List of blogs the school's instructors and students are associated with.
•Professional e-zines/e-publishers the school's instructors and students can subscribe to.
•Newscasts of your campus programs and events.
•Prerecorded audio programs.
•Radio or TV commercials.
After your content is posted, it is imperative to keep it up to date. Ultimately, you want to make a connection with your audience and build the relationship with potential students with a positive message. You also should keep the connection with current students and alumni to encourage community that will bring in future enrollments. Social networking is not just a buzz word; it is an integral part of the career school marketing plan. Whether your school already is socially savvy or looking to build its first page, get new content and get it out there.
Gayla Huber is Account Service Manager at Gragg Advertising. Gragg Advertising is a full-service, direct-response marketing agency in the River Market of Kansas City, MO, established in 1992. Gragg Advertising’s website is www.graggadv.com.