Social media is a vibrant part of the most successful marketing programs, but unfortunately, many schools and nonprofits aren’t properly leveraging this important communication tool. Check out these three tips to elevate your social media strategy and help you reach your target audience.
Too often, organizations simply use post content about what is happening within their inner circle and walk away. However, that’s just barely scratching the surface of what a savvy social media marketer can accomplish through these popular communications outlets. Social media is a tool for marketing, communications and customer relationships; social media is not a scrapbook. It’s not enough to just “use” your accounts; leverage them reach your target audiences and achieve your goals.
Social media is a tool for marketing, not a scrapbook. It’s not enough to just “use” your accounts; leverage them reach your target audiences and achieve your goals.
Social media is meant to be social, emphasis on social. Think about going out to coffee with your friends. How does the conversation go? Most likely you greet each other, have a back and forth conversation that consists of questions and answers on both sides of the table, and eventually, a goodbye and plans to meet up again. But when it comes to social media, too many organizations put information out into the void and walk away hoping for the best.
A strong social media strategy will serve to meet customers’ needs on a variety of levels, from celebrating and entertaining to educating and advising. Simply put, social media should enhance the viewer’s experience in some way and serve a high-value purpose. But, in order to that, you need to understand your target audience.
Know Your Target Audience
When developing a strong social media strategy, it’s important to know your target audiences, and likely, you’ll have several, especially if you streamline your accounts into one main brand account. Assuming we’re working with one brand account, you will likely have prospective customers, current customers, past customers, employees, competitors and an unknown group of viewers all consuming your content. And, each group has a unique need that you can meet. For a school, these needs might look something like this:
- Keep current constituents informed.
- Be a trusted resource for prospective families.
- Connect with alumni and help them reconnect with others.
- Celebrate the school & share its story.
Knowing what content your audience wants is just one part of the equation; you also need to know where they want to consume it. Too often, we just assume we know what our audience wants based on our own personal preferences or past history. But, sometimes, our audiences can surprise us.
Knowing what content your audience wants is just one part of the equation; you also need to know where they want to consume it.
To truly understand your community’s unique needs, you might consider surveying them. A short but thoughtful survey can help you best leverage your time and resources and have the biggest impact on your bottom line. Four targeted questions you need to ask include:
- Which outlets do they use most regularly?
- Where would they be most likely to follow you?
- Where will they interact with you most often?
- What kind of content would they like to see from your organization?
Just be sure to differentiate responses based on user role. Prospective families, parents, students, alumni, faculty and friends all may have major differences in the types of content they want to see most.
Put your intel to work
Once you’ve surveyed your community, you should have a clear idea of how they want to communicate with you on social media and want content they want from you. At one school, surveying the alumni gave us some interesting insight. We were surprised to learn that our alumni didn’t want to hear about the day to day of the school; what ranked highest in terms of desirable content for them was a combination of articles focusing on the history of the institution, which spanned more than two centuries, and articles that help them stay updated on the lives of fellow alumni.
That helped us shape the content we used to reach our alumni base, focusing on programs, buildings and people of the past. We also developed a regular series of alumni profiles for the magazine, which was published both in print and online, and published each class note as an individual news article. Each article in the magazine was mirrored in the microsite and had its own URL, which means they all could be shared independently giving us ample content to promote. We also embraced #TBT and regularly shared old photos, updates on buildings and spotlights on beloved teachers from the past several decades.
Embrace the Boost
Alumni still had access to see our full suite of content through our brand channels, but we boosted content that was targeted to alumni, ensuring that it was seen despite the fact that many algorithms work against a school’s best efforts. Boosting content doesn’t have to mean you have to break the bank; it’s amazing what a few dollars will do to help you reach a broader audience.
With most paid social media efforts, you can pick your specific audience, be it uploading the emails of your alumni or drilling down the demographics to reach a wide network of potential prospective families. These tips can help you maximize your investment in the boost by targeting the content to those users you know will most benefit from it.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to social media, knowing your audience and curating content to meet their specific needs is a crucial step to being successful.