Cover image for blog

Social Media’s Role in the Independent School Enrollment & Search Phase

Feb 17, 2024

I recently had the pleasure of presenting to MinnDEPENDENT on "Understanding the Impact: Social Media Marketing for Private Schools" with Andrea Gribble of #SocialSchool4EDU, and I wanted to share one of the key insights from our discussion. 

✨ Attracting prospective families and filling seats is a priority for many independent schools, and in today's digital age, social media can play an important role in your enrollment strategy. Social media not only has the power to showcase the value and "magic" of a school but also allows prospective families to envision their child as part of your community.

Let’s explore the importance of integrating social media into a comprehensive enrollment strategy, with a focus on creating a captivating online presence and utilizing social proof.

The Rise of the Stealth Parent: πŸ•΅οΈ‍♂️

In independent and private schools, the "stealth parent" trend has become prominent. These are prospective parents (and students!) who discreetly research schools online before initiating direct contact with a school like scheduling a tour or filling out an inquiry form. Recognizing this shift in behavior, we can see how a mission-aligned and engaging social media platform can potentially influence prospective families to take the next step during their stealth phase.  

Social Media As Part of Your Enrollment Strategy: πŸ“…

Consider enrollment strategy as a long runway, requiring careful planning and execution - think proactive rather than reactive. This includes how social media can support your enrollment goals. We often see schools using social media as an afterthought instead of making it a deliberate component of their strategy. For example, a school might realize an open house event is coming up in two weeks and post five graphic/text invitations on their social media feed leading up to the event instead of taking the time to create posts that showcase the school, classrooms, students, and faculty as part of a "long runway plan." The takeaway: Timing and approach in promoting events such as open houses, tours, and enrollment deadlines are vital and should not be relegated to last-minute posts.

Diversifying Social Media Content: πŸŽ¨

An effective social media enrollment strategy encompasses various content types, including value-added pieces and soft-touch posts. Value-added content supports parents or shares resources, aligning with the school's value proposition. Soft-touch pieces emotionally connect audiences to the school's culture, providing glimpses into the magic that happens in classrooms. 

Mixing up your social media content not only keeps prospective families interested but also connects them to the value your school provides, helping them picture their children at your school.

The 4:1 Rule: 4️⃣:1️⃣

Something schools find really helpful when planning their social media strategy is embracing the 4:1 rule. Following this guideline – incorporating four value-added or soft-touch posts for every one direct promotional post – ensures a balanced and engaging social media presence. Even during peak enrollment seasons, sticking to this ratio fosters authenticity and prevents your audience, including prospective and current families, from feeling overwhelmed with constant "promotional" requests (such as graphic posts about open houses or available openings).

Combining "Ask" with Engaging Content: πŸŽ₯

Instead of succumbing to the temptation of posting back-to-back "ask" content during peak enrollment season, schools find success by blending promotional material with engaging storytelling. For example, a video featuring students expressing their love for the school can include an in-text invitation to attend an upcoming open house. This approach not only softens the "ask" but also engages the viewer while showcasing the school’s unique value proposition.

Social Proof and Its Impact: πŸ‘πŸ‘Ž

Social proof is the phenomenon where individuals seek guidance from the actions or reactions of others to inform their decision-making. For example, you might check out reviews on Amazon before making a purchase or visit a new restaurant based on friends' recommendations. Another perspective is that social proof involves presenting evidence that attests to the perceived value of a school, as recognized by others.

Social proof can play a pivotal role in building confidence among prospective families during their search phase. Social media serves as an excellent platform for leveraging social proof, especially during enrollment seasons. On social media, social proof can manifest in various forms, including video and graphic testimonials from students, faculty, and parents, as well as through case studies and infographics. Utilizing such content enhances a school's credibility and popularity, positively influencing prospective families.

The Importance of Teacher Highlights: πŸŽπŸ‘©‍πŸ«πŸ“š

Quality, engaged teachers who love working at a school and make learning interesting are key reasons why parents choose and stay at a school. Teacher highlights on social media can play a significant role in providing social proof. Why? Because prospective families often visit faculty and staff pages on school websites to learn about the people who will be interacting with their children. Showcasing video and graphic testimonials of teachers, along with highlights of them working with students in the classroom on social media, reinforces the positive atmosphere within the school and conveys that educators genuinely love their work and the students they mentor.

πŸ“±πŸ« Integrating social media into the enrollment strategy of independent schools is not just a trend but a necessity in the digital age. By strategically leveraging different content types, adhering to a balanced posting approach, and showcasing social proof, schools can create a compelling online presence that resonates with prospective families and boosts enrollment.


πŸ‘‹ Would you like to engage in lively discussions and exchange strategies with other small school Heads, Admissions, and Marketing leaders? πŸ™Œ Then you need to join us for our next FREE Small School Leaders Monthly Power Hour session! It is an easy way to connect with other small school professionals from across the country! πŸ˜€

   Put us on your calendar TODAY πŸ‘‰ 

And if you would like to do a deeper dive into all things Small School, then you may want to check out our Small School Solutions Annual Professional Development Tailored to Small Schools! 

.  Learn More πŸ‘‰

#privateschool #schoolmarketing #easyschoolmarketing #smallschools #independentschools #professionaldevelopment #community #support