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Social media is often where many institutions showcase the lighter side of school life. From stories and posts highlighting student social events, to photos and videos that capture the beauty and bustle of a campus in full swing, the channel’s visual, casual, and communal nature makes it one of the most engaging marketing tools available. Intrigued? Read on to learn how to promote courses on social media.

Changes in our lifestyles has led to a significant rise in social media, giving schools countless opportunities to connect, engage, and attract new prospects. In fact, research shows global social CPM (Cost per Thousand) was at a notable high in Q4 2020. In this new landscape, campaigns designed to boost brand awareness or traffic have increased by 114%, driven by a 62% increase in CPM.

This sets the stage nicely for schools looking to spread awareness about their online programs, but it also introduces a range of questions that may be difficult to navigate for those just starting out. For instance, how do you find Instagram-friendly visuals when your campus is empty? How do you create a sense of community among your students when they are studying from home? And how do you highlight everything your courses have to offer in a way that will speak to a social media audience?

Fortunately, there are plenty of inventive ways to showcase learning on social networks, and even use the change in medium to your advantage.

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1. Before You Begin, Define the Personas & USPs of Your Courses

We’ve mentioned before that the impact of COVID-19 and switch to online delivery could force many schools to rethink their student personas, but it’s a fact that bears repeating. This exercise can drive your school’s approach across a number of digital channels, and social media is no exception.

Your team should think carefully about how different the potential audience for their online courses will be compared to their classroom prospects. Will the accessibility of online learning lead to you attracting prospects from further afield? Will the flexibility of the format mean that more students study while working? Will they be older, now that the economic impact of the pandemic has led to people rethinking their career paths?

Example: Online course provider, FutureLearn, understands the needs and wants of its audience, and the content it shares on social media very much reflects that.

how to recruit online students

Asking these questions and creating a picture of your ideal online applicant will also help to clearly define the unique value proposition of your courses. 

For instance, many language schools have traditionally leaned heavily on the attractiveness of their location as a study destination, emphasizing opportunities for sightseeing, social life, and language immersion. For online programs, however, this benefit has been negated, and these institutions have needed to bring the strength of their course content, instructors, and online learning facilities to the forefront.

Example: This Facebook post from Everest Language School lays out the value of their new online courses quite well.

social media marketing for education online

Source: Everest Language School 

Once you have a clearly defined persona and key messages, you can begin to tailor your social media strategy and discover how to promote courses on social media more effectively. In fact, you will probably even find ideas for posts, tactics, and priority channels become much clearer right away.

2. Choose Your Social Networks When Exploring How to Promote Courses on Social Media

It’s important to consider which social networks you are focusing on to promote your courses. As obvious as this may seem, it’s worth reiterating because you may find that the social channels you use to promote your classroom-based courses don’t generate the same engagement or reach the right audience for online learning.

For instance, you might have a very strong Instagram presence, but the highly visual nature of the site could make it less than ideal for showcasing your online courses. The fact that you cannot place links in posts could also limit the amount of leads you generate, which might be particularly limiting given many schools need to drum up interest in new online courses fast right now. Recent data suggests that Instagram has also seen something of a decline in engagement during the pandemic, as its audience switches its attention to more news-focused social media:

how to promote a course on social media

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

This isn’t to say that Instagram should be counted out entirely – it is still one of the most popular social networks globally, after all. It’s just that you should analyze your current social calendar and what attention you give to certain sites carefully, and not be afraid to shake things up.

3. Optimize Your School’s Social Media Profiles

For schools marketing education for the first time, half of the battle will be just informing your current audience what options are available. One thing you should consider to help get the message across is optimizing your social media profiles to make your learning options more prominent.

An example of optimizing your social media profile can include updating the About section on your Facebook page to include information about the courses you provide in your Company Overview, Products and Milestones sections.

Example: IE Business School includes recent awards and recognition it has received for its online MBA program in its Milestones section. In the current climate, this kind of information will inspire confidence in prospects.

promoting online courses

Source: IE Business School 

You could also update the main link in your Instagram profile to direct prospects to your course options if you’re considering how to promote courses on social media. Alternatively, you could change your Facebook cover image during this period to help draw the attention of prospects.

Example: Speak Up London Language School now has a video on its Facebook cover promoting online ESL classes.

online social media

Source: Speak Up London Language School

These small details will all help to raise awareness and reposition your school as a reputable learning provider on social media. Interested in working with us to develop your social media strategy? Reach out to our team for custom-tailored insights. 

4. Video is Your Friend When Marketing Your School’s Courses

Because online classes are largely based on video platforms, the material you develop for your courses can be easily repurposed for promotion. You can use relatively inexpensive video editing software to create eye-catching clips that offer a glimpse of your learning management system (LMS), showcase the value of your online courses, and drive prospects towards inquiries. You can also use this technique to promote your traditional courses, appealing to your audience on social media through engaging content.

Example: In this recent YouTube video, International House London combined footage of its remote students and its LMS to create a vibrant and engaging promotion for its new online ESL courses.

YouTube video

One of the major benefits of creating video content is that video tends to attract a lot of engagement and reach, which could help you gain traction and leads for your online courses from social media a lot faster.

5. Facebook Live: A Solution for Schools Seeking How to Promote Courses on Social Media

In addition to posting videos on social media, you can also go one step further and broadcast live when exploring how to promote courses on social media. Live Streaming has been one of the biggest social media success stories of the past few years, particularly on Facebook. Since its launch in 2016, Facebook Live has attracted over 2 billion viewers, and attracts 6 times as many interactions, 3 times the average watch length, and 10 times as many comments as regular videos.

What’s more, the Facebook Live format is perfect for showcasing the learning experience at your school. Your school could host live Q&A sessions, tutorials for your LMS, or even offer free introductory classes through the platform.

Example: Vancouver Island University hosted this online information session last month in relation to its online ESL program

online social media recruitment

Source: Vancouver Island University International 

Livestreaming will give your prospects a firsthand taste of the environment you create for students. For schools offering online programs, livestreaming can even showcase the interactivity and communication the format can facilitate.

6. Share Resources From Your Courses

In addition to using video to offer a sneak peak of your classes, you could also share some of the other components of your courses on social media. Schools searching for how to promote a course on social media can use course assets to creatively boost engagement. For instance, course quizzes, reading material, or other kinds of learning resources can be repurposed and posted on your social media accounts. 

Many schools are taking this even further and offering free trials of their classes to prospects, which could be particularly beneficial if you are new to the format.

Example: IH Bristol offers free trials of its online language courses to followers on Facebook.

social media for online language schools

Source: International House Bristol

Offering content with this level of value will show prospects that your courses are robust and rich in learning support, as well as giving them the chance to sample aspects of your classes to get a feel for what it is like studying with you.

7. Create Stories as You Consider How to Promote Courses on Social Media

Given their very visual nature, stories might not seem like a natural fit if you’re searching for how to promote courses on social media. However, the format’s versatility could actually give you plenty of scope to showcase your school’s learning experience. For instance, you could use some of your learning materials to create quizzes or polls to test prospects’ knowledge and give them a preview of what to expect.

The interactivity of social media stories can also be a great way to build community and engagement remotely. For instance, in the aftermath of COVID-19, a number of schools have utilized the format to offer practical tips for studying remotely. This could help to assuage any concerns students may have about studying online or with your school in general.

Example: The University of Glasgow created a story which asked students to share their best tips for studying from home, then shared some of the answers.

social media online schools

Source: University of Glasgow

8. Don’t Forget the ‘Social’ Aspect of Learning on Social Media

Offering opportunities for socializing while promoting your courses can help you create ways for your community to better connect with one another. Schools that have been forced to close campuses due to the pandemic have also been mindful of this aspect of the student experience, and many have worked to create virtual events and activities to fill the void.

Social media can be the perfect place to promote this aspect of your school, showcasing a vibrant student life experience. You can create posts, stories and videos both to raise awareness of your events, and show prospects what they are missing.

Example: Socializing has always been a big part of the language education experience. Now, in the absence of on-campus activities, many schools are running virtual social programs for their online students. IH Manchester, for instance, runs concerts, quizzes and other events online, and promotes them on its Instagram account.

language school social media

Source: IH Manchester

‘Social proof’ can also be incredibly valuable for schools wondering how to promote courses on social media, particularly in the early stages of their ventures into online learning. Sharing testimonials from students who have had positive experiences studying with your school will reassure prospects that your courses represent good value.

Example: ILSC Toronto shared a video testimonial from an online student. In it, she praises not just the course but also the opportunities for socializing online with fellow students, making it an incredibly valuable promotional asset.

higher ed social media testimonial

Source: ILSC Toronto

9. Use Social Media Ads to Make a Name for Your Courses

When considering how to recruit students through social media, it’s important to remember that your organic reach on most popular networks is likely to be quite limited these days.

With that in mind, investing in paid social media ads could be a prudent move, especially if your student personas have changed significantly with the move to online learning. Advertising could help you to get your courses seen by the audience you are now targeting, and allow you to generate leads quickly.

Example: EF English Live runs Facebook Ads to reach prospective online students in the Taiwanese market.

social media for higher ed

Source: EF English Live

10. Post, Post, and Post Some More About Your Courses

As much as these tactics will help you make your courses stand out, the very best thing you can do when marketing your school’s courses is to post, post, and post some more. When trying to get the word out about a course, mentioning it frequently on your social accounts is really the most surefire way to create awareness.

Example: Inlingua Malta has made posting about its online courses its top priority on Facebook in recent weeks.

social media marketing for education

This is especially true if you are new to the online learning arena. In this situation, your followers and prospects may not be aware that you now offer online programs as an option, and posting about it on social media could just be the tool to reignite their interest in studying with you.

Posting regularly across different social channels could also help you attract new followers. Finding popular hashtags about learning and using them in your posts will make them more discoverable in searches.

Example: ILAC Language School uses relevant hashtags in its Instagram posts.

social media for education

Source: ILAC Night School

If you’re still looking for effective solutions on how to promote courses on social media, then consider freeing up a small budget. This way, you can also promote your posts to amplify their reach amongst your target audience. 

As with any new course, it can take time for courses to gain traction and interest. Along with consistent efforts in content marketing, SEO, advertising, and email marketing, incorporating promoting them into your social media initiatives is just another thing you can do to help move the process along, and establish your school as a trusted education provider.

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