Creating the right content for social media can be a challenge for most schools. But an even bigger challenge is getting the response you want from your target audience. Some schools put a lot of time, effort, and creativity into their social media messages, but they just don’t seem to get the levels of engagement they want. If this is the case, it’s time for your school to apply some key social media engagement ideas to your strategy.
Getting your content seen and heard is half the battle when it comes to boosting your school’s social media presence. But beyond that, you should be thinking about how your school can generate likes, comments, follows, and shares across its social media accounts. When you focus on increasing engagement on your posts, you increase the impact of your school’s messages. Here are some tips to turn up the volume on your school’s social media channels and deliver content that resonates with potential students today.
Start a Conversation With Your Followers
The most impactful social media engagement ideas are those that start a dialogue. If you want your social media content to stick with your followers, you should think about ways to encourage a two-way conversation on your channels.
Prospective students want to feel listened to, and they want to know that their questions and concerns are being addressed. The easiest way to achieve this is to respond to all users in the comment sections of your posts. 76% of users expect a response from brands on social media within a day. Your school should use that fact as an incentive to respond to prospects as quickly as possible.
Potential applicants might have questions concerning specific programs, deadlines, or upcoming events. The comments section is a window for you to remind prospects of important information and reiterate your school’s key messages. At the same time, don’t be afraid to show your appreciation for student feedback.
In the example below, Manchester University responded to a comment from an alumnus sharing her experience of the school’s advising services.
Replies like these encourage other students to do the same, leading to more visible, positive engagement on your school’s accounts. By showing an active and open social media presence, prospects are more likely to reach out in the future.
Looking to take the lead in your social media engagement ideas? Don’t just wait for prospects to ask questions; think about starting your own conversation. Remember, social media is a more personal, informal channel of communication, and your school should take advantage of that fact to build more authentic connections with prospects.
From Twitter and Facebook polls to Instagram Q&As, there are numerous ways to go about this.
For example, Cambridge University asked its followers to submit any questions they have about student life at the school. This was done in preparation for an upcoming Q&A session held on TikTok.
Not only does this encourage users to take an active role on your school’s social media channels, but it also ensures that you’re giving prospects the information they’re looking for. You can target your school’s messages, so they better satisfy the intent of your audience.
Invite Reactions With Celebratory Posts
Effective social media engagement ideas should aim to drive an emotional response from users. Much like starting a dialogue, sharing personal stories from your school community can help to engage potential students in a sense of school spirit. Let your school’s selling points ring loud and clear by choosing content that celebrates achievements or milestones on your campus. This could be anything from faculty awards, alumni successes, or competition wins. In the process, you’ll invite congratulations from users in the form of likes, comments, and reactions.
Example: Stanford University created a tweet celebrating the victory of its football team. Posts like these are an easy way to keep your followers in the loop and update them on key events at your school.
Other fun social media engagement ideas include posts celebrating your school’s incoming and graduating classes. This kind of content is particularly inspiring to prospective students, who can see the success of other students who came before them and envision themselves in the same position.
The University of Michigan takes this approach by sharing student reactions to receiving an acceptance letter. While offering a warm welcome to its incoming students, the post gets future applicants excited about starting their own journey.
From nurturing a sense of school pride to building its reputation, celebratory posts can help to generate buzz for your school. Think about who your target audience is–their key motivations for choosing your school–and highlight the success stories that will appeal to them.
Use Video to Get Your School’s Message Across
When thinking of social media engagement ideas, it’s important to know which form of content generates the most engagement. The answer? Video. In fact, a study shows that 86% of marketers say video has helped them generate leads, while 93% say video has helped them increase brand awareness.
With the rise of apps and tools like TikTok and Instagram Reels, it’s now easier than ever to include short-form video content in your school’s social media engagement strategy. The possibilities of video are virtually endless. You might use it to introduce key faculty members or interview current students at your school. Likewise, you might use video to tease an upcoming campus tour or offer a sneak peek into classes. Whatever you’re trying to promote, there’s likely a video option for it.
Example: the University of Sydney created an Instagram video covering “Different types of people at Open Day.” This post gives prospects a look at what to expect from the event while reminding them of the link to register.
Rather than just providing key information, the video format allows the school to get creative and present its messages in a more fun and relatable way. Not to mention, videos on social media generate 1200% more shares than texts and images, so you can sit back and let your followers spread the word.
Encourage Prospects to Tune in to Live Streams
If you want to go one step further in bringing your school’s messages to life, live streams offer all the benefits of video–with the added bonus of real-time engagement. Incorporating live streams into your video strategy takes a little more time and planning, but the results are well worth the effort. Prospective students can get a more honest window into your school, while your school can hold their undivided attention.
To make the most of your live sessions, be sure to promote them on your social media accounts leading up to the event. At the same time, think about asking prospects to submit questions that they want answered so the event can be of real value to them. By applying more interactive social media engagement ideas, your school’s messages are more likely to resonate with its audience.
Sign Off Posts With a Call-to-Action
Looking for a more obvious way to boost engagement on a post? Why not try asking your followers directly? When creating a social media post, remember to always include some kind of call to action. This could be a statement asking users to leave a comment, like a post, or share the content with their friends and family. The effect is pretty simple: people are more likely to engage with a post if you ask them to.
For example, Oxford College created an Instagram post asking current students to share their experiences at the school. This is a smart way to get additional content for your school’s social media accounts while developing a more active community online.
In particular, encouraging students to share content will help you tap into their own social network–likely people who are at a similar stage in life or making similar decisions about their education. Your messages can reach a wider audience with no additional effort!
While generating views through your social media engagement ideas is important, remember that your posts should support a wider marketing goal to move prospects through the enrollment funnel. Ideally, each social media message should be accompanied by a different call to action that links to a specific landing page on your school’s website. This is where prospects can take the next step in engaging with your school. “Apply Now,” “Learn More,” and “Register for Our Open Day” are all ways that you can lead prospects to perform a direct action. In the process, you’re expanding the effect of your social media messages on your school’s overall marketing strategy.
Increase Exposure of Your School Brand Across Social Media
Most of today’s social media platforms are highly visual, and your social media engagement ideas should reflect that. In a 2020 study, the majority of content marketers surveyed said that 91-100% of their content includes visuals. Your school can jump on that trend by designing graphics with strong branding for your social media posts.
On social media–as with your other marketing channels–it’s about creating consistent branding so that people will recognize your school and identify the image it presents. The language, tone, logo, font, and visual style of your posts can all be used to communicate your school’s personality and should be consistent across your marketing materials.
In the example below, take a look at the University of British Columbia’s LinkedIn page. The home page features the school’s logo, its blue colour scheme, and a futuristic-style banner. The caption “Forward happens here” is also used.
Now, look at an example of a Facebook post from the same university. The same blue colour scheme is used, along with the school logo and its signature arrow graphic. The same slogan “Forward happens here” is used to communicate the university’s identity as a cutting-edge research institution.
With this kind of visual consistency, prospects can familiarize themselves with your school’s brand during their research and start building a mental image of what you represent.
Beyond visuals, there are some other social media engagement ideas you can implement to increase the exposure of your school’s brand. For instance, think about using hashtags or location tags to boost the chances of your content being seen. Try to opt for a hashtag that is relevant to what prospects might search while remaining distinct to your school. If you use hashtags that are too generic, your messages will get lost in the void. An easy way to create a branded hashtag is to add your school’s initials in front. You can then encourage different social media accounts to use that hashtag in their posts to spread the word.
For example, UCL created the unique hashtag #UCLOpenDay to promote its event on Twitter. In the image below, you can see how other social media accounts, like the UCL Women’s Engineering Society, included the hashtag in their posts. The effect is greater exposure for the school’s event across Twitter.
Remember, the more active you are across social media, the more likely prospective students will come across your school. Another way to boost your school’s presence is to engage in conversations across social media that are in line with your school’s brand or mission. Liking, re-sharing, and commenting on content from other pages is a good way to gain visibility across the platform. Anything from famous quotes to industry news to alumni photos could support your school’s key messages. This is an easy, low-effort way to amplify your brand identity on social media.
Use Paid Ads to Elevate Your Social Media Engagement Ideas
With all your social media engagement ideas down, the next thing you want to do is invest in social media advertising and amplify your message. If you want your messages to have a bigger impact beyond your followers, boosting your posts with paid social ads will put you on the fast track to success. When you boost a post, you pay to land a top spot on your audience’s feed; you can even decide on who exactly sees your posts with audience targeting. For example, with Facebook targeting, you can choose to reach parents over 30 or young people interested in athletics. Think about who the priority audience is for your school’s content and which posts you want to come through loud and clear.
Knowing how to increase social media engagement requires an understanding of how social media platforms are used today and how your school can join in the conversation. Without paying attention to how likes, shares, and comments are generated, your school’s messages will have a limited impact, and content development efforts will be unproductive. With these top social media engagement ideas, your school can begin delivering content that leaves a lasting impression on prospects today.