You know that social media marketing works in education. It’s also a great way to market your career and technical education program. Social media is a way to celebrate your current students while increasing visibility.
In a study conducted in 2018, 95% of teens say they have or have access to a smartphone.
But, when you’re already busy prepping and teaching classes, social media can seem like one more thing. One more thing that looks like a lot of work and time that you don’t have.
What if you could learn how to use social media to market your program without having to take all your spare time? With planning, strategy, and the right tools, social media can do the work for you. By spending some time creating posts, you can expand your visibility and reach.
Here we’ll go over how to use existing school and district social media accounts. We’ll also go over the basics of social media marketing for your school program. And, we’ll share some time-saving tools that will help keep your strategy on track.
Before we get started, this is a great time to grab my Simple Guide to Planning a Week of Social Media for Your Program. This guide will serve as a place to keep notes as we go over the basics of social media marketing.
Using Existing Social Media Channels
Your school and/or district most likely already use social media. It is one of the best ways to get announcements and news out to your community. That’s because roughly 7-in-10 American adults use some kind of social media site.
Your school district and school have a larger audience than your classroom. To expand your visibility and reach, you need to show up on these other levels.
Provide content for your school or district website
Schools and school districts need content to showcase on their websites. Feature what you are already doing in class. People like seeing students working and learning. You don’t need to go out of your way to create a project to photograph and write about.
Take a few good pictures featuring students, projects, or even you teaching a small group. Write a few sentences explaining what your students were learning. Explain what the students were doing in class to show their learning.
Write an article for the website
For bonus points, write an article that is useful to the community. Is there a bit of information that you already teach to your classes that you could write an article about?
When you are thinking about writing an article, consider what can go viral. (Shareable content beyond your school.) When people share or reshare content it gets more “organic reach” (more people see it.)
Use your expertise and share what you know. It could be how to write a resume, pick a college, local alternatives to post-secondary education, etc.
A good place to start is with a topic that you get asked about a lot.
Maximizing your reach through your district or school website
For example, several of our schools started using a new way to teach math. From an educator’s view, it was awesome! But, our parents had no idea what it was or how to help their students at home.
Some of our math teachers made a list of quick tips for parents as well as some links to resources. It was a hit! It was also shared throughout the district–not just our school community. Because other schools were also teaching math the same way, it helped those parents as well.
Promoting Your Program for the DIYer
Using existing social media channels is a must, but your program may not get featured as much as you would like.
By having your own social media accounts, you can market your program whenever you would like. Check with district and local administration and policies before getting in too deep.
Next, we’ll go over some basics of starting your own social media account for your program.
Keep track of your notes in my Simple Guide to Planning a Week of Social Media for Your Program as you go through this next section.
Choose your platform
When you first get started, you will want to start with only one platform. If you are wanting to target parents, Facebook is a good place to start as it is used by 70% of American adults. As of fall 2019, 35% of teenagers surveyed use Instagram.
Whichever you choose, stick to the one until you feel like you can add another.
Deciding how often to post
Avoid taking on too much at the start. Your followers are community will learn what to expect from you, so start off slow. A good place to start is three to five times a week.
After you’ve determined how often you are going to post, decide which days and times you are going to post.
For times, choose when you think your target market (students and/or parents) will be on. Some good times to consider would be 6 AM, lunch, and right after school.
Figuring out what to post
Deciding and creating content for social media is what takes the most time. Let’s go over some ways to streamline the process.
Find fun and related “holidays” or special dates to highlight.
Do you love to bake or eat cookies? Make sure to celebrate National Cookie Day on December 4. February is CTE month and April is National Welding Month.
Have a “feature” day of the week.
Student spotlights and features are a great way to showcase existing or former students. These posts can show the diversity of your students including reasons for taking your class.
Choose a day each week for features like these. Think Throwback Thursday, Spotlight Saturday, or Feature Friday. They don’t need to have alliteration, but it makes it fun.
Want to know how to spotlight students in 3 easy steps? Check this post out!
Pick categories to regularly post about
Promotion and marketing on social media are less about you and more about your students. As you are creating posts, make sure to keep your students and future students in mind.
Here are some categories that your students, future students, and parents want to see:
- About You
- Behind the Scenes
- Featured Course
- Inspirational Quote
- Career Fact
Writing Captions for Your Social Media Posts
Now that you have your image and your topic or category, you need to add a caption. Your image should to “stop the scroll,” and the caption used to engage others on social media.
A simple caption formula will help you get on your way to writing captions that not only explain the image but get a response.
Use the following formula: Caption = Hook + Explanation + Call to Action
Use the right words at the beginning to keep your reader’s attention. You already do this at the beginning of your lessons or when you are introducing a new topic.
Here’s some examples:
- Have you ever wondered how I __________?
- True or False: _______
- Is it just me or ___________?
- Oooh, look at this _______ hack I want to share with you.
For more examples, of how this looks in your classroom, check out Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess.
Serve your community with what they need to hear. Add personal insight here so that students and community members get to know you better.
Explain what students are learning, tell a story, or give advice.
Call to Action:
Invite them to like, comment, leave an emoji, share, etc. to build relationships (and your engagement). Make it quick and simple. If you don’t ask for them to do anything, they won’t.
When your community engages, they and others will see your posts more.
Hashtags and Mentions
When someone follows a hashtag, they will see all the posts that use that same hashtag. This is a way that can help you get discovered on social media–specifically Instagram.
To learn more about hashtags and how to use them to increase your program’s visibility, check out this post.
Tools to Automate
You now have your posts planned out. Yay!
Posting in real-time is stressful and time-consuming. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to automate your social media marketing.
Schedulers like Planoly and Later allow you to add images and captions to post to Instagram at a later date. Both these have a free and a paid plan. The paid plans come with more posts, but you won’t need them unless you are posting more than thirty times a month.
If you are using Facebook and a Facebook Business page, use Facebook Creator Studio to schedule posts. Link your Facebook Business Page to your Instagram Business account, so you can use Creator Studio with Instagram.
All the above schedulers have a desktop version as well as an app. Creating your posts on your computer–with a keyboard–makes writing captions much easier.
In this post, we’ve covered how to use existing school and district social media accounts. Give content to those who are already posting to social media. Write an article for your website.
We also went over the basics of social media marketing for your school program. Including choosing a platform, decided when and what to post.
And finally, we shared some automation tools that will help keep your strategy on track. Use a scheduler so you don’t need to remember to post.
Before you go, get my Simple Guide to Planning a Week of Social Media for Your Program. This guide will help remind you of all the basics we’ve covered and keep you organized as you plan out your school social media marketing.