Enrolling their child in public school is the typical course of action for many parents, largely because public schools are lower-cost or free, may be closer to home, and are likely to provide transportation to and from campus.
That’s why you need to actively work to convince them that your private school is the best option for them or their child.
And in this post-COVID era, when parents and prospective students spend more time at home scrolling through social media than ever before, one of the most efficient ways to do that is to promote your school on the sites they frequent.
To get you started, in this article, we’ll discuss the most important actions you should take to get your school’s name out there on the right social media networks and in the right ways.
- Focus On Promoting Your Brand
- Post About Your Private School
- Collaborate With Student Ambassadors
- Share the Success Stories of Your Alumni
- Engage With Your Social Media Followers
- Summary and Next Steps
Focus On Promoting Your Brand
We bring brand consistency up first because it’s an important principle to remember when implementing the other best practices in this article.
Brand consistency refers to portraying your school in the same way across all contexts. Broadly, that means ensuring the written and verbal content you produce reflects your values.
More specifically, brand consistency means things like:
- Discussing on-brand topics
- Using the same logo and color scheme in all materials
- Using a consistent tone (e.g., lighthearted vs. serious)
Of course, your LinkedIn posts should be more professional than your TikTok posts. But they should all clearly reflect your brand’s voice.
As digital marketing specialist Stacy Jackson puts it:
There is the “at work” you and the “at home or with friends” you. Your personality is the same, but your mannerisms adjust to the context. The same goes for your brand personality and selected communication channels.
Maintaining brand consistency when promoting your private school on social media will help parents and prospective students understand who you are and what you offer.
There are over 30,000 private educational institutions in the US today, so it’s crucial that your unique value proposition—why someone should choose your school over others—is crystal clear.
Not only will brand consistency show parents and students how you’re different from other private schools, but it will also help them trust you.
Compare it to getting to know someone new—you give them your trust once you see they’re the same person across time and situations.
Similarly, repeatedly producing social media content that reflects the same values will increase your trustworthiness and credibility.
Use these best practices to promote a consistent brand across social media networks:
- Choose a photo that reflects your school’s brand, and suggest that your employees use it as their social media cover photo
- Keep your content exclusive to social media sites that fit your brand
- Make approved logos and other visual content accessible to anyone producing written content for your school
- Only post content related to your school’s niche
As an example of the last point, the Bishop Strachan School, an all-girls school from Toronto, Canada, created the below Facebook post on International Women’s Day.
This on-brand post communicates to prospective students and parents that they or their children would be in an environment dedicated to female empowerment if they attended the Bishop Strachan School.
This was a strategic point for the school to emphasize because many people considering attending an all-girls school may be looking for this type of culture.
Post About Your Private School
In addition to maintaining a consistent brand on social media, you can pay attention to where, when, and what you post to promote your private school strategically.
We mentioned earlier that you should post on platforms that align with your brand, but you should also post on platforms your target audience uses regularly.
To figure out who your target audience is, ask yourself:
- Who is my ideal student?
- Who are the ideal parents?
- Who are my current students and their parents?
An easy way to visualize the demographics of your target audience is to create a persona, or a fictional character representing the average user of your educational service.
If your persona reveals that your target audience mostly consists of older parents, it’s a good idea to promote your school heavily on Facebook.
If you’re targeting younger parents, focus on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you want to reach out to potential students directly, add TikTok to that list.
In addition to informing where you post, personas can guide the type of content you post.
One way to learn what content your audience finds compelling is to focus on your user’s motivations and concerns as Higher Education Marketing, a digital marketing company, did in the example below.
Source: Higher Education Marketing
If the persona above represented your target parent, you could post about scholarship opportunities, programs designed to give new students a chance to meet other students, and the diverse worldviews and backgrounds of your students.
The takeaway here is to post about topics your target audience cares about.
There are also a few topics it’s a good idea to post about regardless of your target audience.
First, film and post video tours of an academic department at your school, your campus as a whole, or student life in general, like the University of Kent did in this example.
Source: University of Kent on YouTube
Note that this video also used the trending audio “Have you ever been in love?” Capitalizing on social media trends is another great way to drive views to your content.
Next, film or photograph events, games, practices, or performances outside of the context of a video tour to showcase what your private school offers.
Regardless of the content, it’s important to post consistently.
Not only does having an active presence on social media help you reach more potential customers, many people now expect it.
They may see your school as old-fashioned and out of touch if you aren’t active online.
Collaborate With Student Ambassadors
A great way to make sure your posts get a lot of views is by collaborating with student ambassadors.
Student ambassadors are current students with a social media following who post content about your school.
By collaborating with them, you’re ensuring your content reaches their audience in addition to yours.
Student ambassadors are also likely to know about the latest social media trends and the type of content likely to get the most views.
You can find student ambassadors by searching popular hashtags related to your school on social media.
When you find students using these hashtags in their posts, check out their profiles. How many followers do they have? How many views do their posts get?
Ambassadors with a larger following will drive more attention to your school.
Once a student has agreed to be an ambassador, ask them to post about specific topics on their personal account or give them access to your school’s social media accounts.
Keep in mind that you can always give temporary access—an “Instagram takeover”, for example—then change your password after the takeover ends.
Some topics student ambassadors could post about include:
- A typical day in the life of a student at your school
- Things to do on campus
- Their favorite things about attending your school
The video below, created by a student at Stanford University, provides a great example of that last point.
Source: nazjaa on YouTube
This student’s video received over 24,000 views. Clearly, collaborating with student ambassadors is a worthwhile investment.
Student posts could be photos or videos posted sporadically or as part of a series.
The important thing is just that prospective parents or students see a real person experiencing life at your private school.
You can also showcase student ambassadors in your own social media posts. There are two advantages to this strategy.
First, tagging the student in these posts ensures many of their followers will see your post (and thus your school)
Next, you can use the student to showcase a particular event or aspect of campus or student life.
It’s a subtle way to get specific parts of your private school in front of the eyes of an interested audience.
The Facebook post below from Kent State University is a great example of this.
It uses the student to draw attention to the post, then shows off an interesting piece of architecture on campus.
KSU even has a dedicated student ambassadors’ Facebook page for posts like these.
Remember—you don’t have to do all the work yourself. You may be able to find students who are excited to do some of it for you.
Share the Success Stories of Your Alumni
Sharing alumni success stories is another important way to promote your private school on social media because it provides social proof to prospective students and parents of your school’s credibility.
Specifically, sharing these stories assures your audience that they too could be successful if they attended your school.
A prospective student could even see an alumni achievement that they hope to achieve themselves one day.
Sharing these stories also fosters a good relationship between your school and its alumni, and alumni may have children of their own one day—children who need a school to attend.
It’s a good idea to have students fill out an exit survey before they graduate, detailing their plans and permanent contact information, so you’ll know how to reach them.
When posting alumni success stories, focus on the impact your school made on the students’ lives and, in turn, the impact students are making on their communities and the world.
You can share these stories in various ways, for example on:
- Your website as written or video case studies
- Instagram or TikTok as reels
South Hampstead High School did the latter in this example:
Source: South Hampstead High School on Twitter
The school makes regular Monday Motivation posts on Twitter showcasing successful alumni.
It either posts infographics representing numerous student outcomes, like alumni admittance rates into graduate school, or it features parent testimonials, which are convincing social proof for other parents.
No matter how you share alumni success stories, remember to highlight big or unique student achievements.
This will help set you apart from other private schools sharing their own students’ stories.
Engage With Your Social Media Followers
Engaging with your followers on social media is an important strategy for promoting your private school for a few reasons.
First, it fosters a sense of community among students, parents, and alumni, and demonstrates that you value your students and their loved ones enough to spend time responding to their comments and questions.
And when people feel valued and heard, they’re more likely to mention their rewarding experience to others looking for a school for themselves or their child.
Next, social media algorithms reward engagement.
The more active you are on social media—posting, responding to comments, and commenting on others’ posts—the broader the reach of your posts.
Most importantly, engaging with your social media followers helps you learn about them, which in turn helps you tailor your promotional materials to their needs and preferences—and your target audience in general.
One of the easiest ways to learn about your audience through interacting with them is simply to post questions for them and reply to their responses.
They’ll feel like you value their input and you’ll come away with new marketing ideas.
Other ways to engage with your followers include:
- Asking for feedback on a specific issue related to your school, ideas for an upcoming project, or ideas for changes they’d like to see
- Running on-brand contests on social media, such as giveaways in return for likes, shares, or comments with specific information like a great experience they had at your school—which you should be sure to reply to.
- Doing a live stream in which you answer audience questions. This can be especially impactful if you have a popular student ambassador moderate it.
- Helping your followers feel involved in your community by sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses into life at your school
In the example you can see in the screenshot below, Florida State University implements this last strategy by sharing an Instagram reel featuring a video from Dance Marathon, an annual campus-wide fundraising event.
Source: Florida State University on Instagram
The comments make it clear that this school’s audience feels a sense of pride and involvement in their community.
Source: Florida State University on Instagram
Posts like this can go a long way toward making your followers feel involved in your school community, even if they’re not yet students.
Summary and Next Steps
To sum up, the best way to reach out to potential new students for your private school, and their parents, is to rely on social media.
Posting content your target audience is interested in on the sites they frequent is sure to attract their attention and establish you as a reliable educational institution.
In your efforts, you should make sure to keep posts on-brand and utilize popular social media trends to drive traffic to your posts, making as many interactive posts as you can to get your audience involved.
Also, focusing on current students and alumni by sharing their stories and turning them into student ambassadors can show your potential future students what they can gain by entrusting their education to you.
These best practices will help you drive more students to your private school in 2023 than ever before.
But remember that social media should only be one aspect of school marketing strategy—which is why you should focus on other lucrative channels, like email, at the same time.
For further reading on how to boost engagement and enrollment using email, check out these resources from our blog: