For effective international student marketing, you know that you're supposed to post regularly on social media platforms. You also know that you're supposed to brush your teeth multiple times a day, pick salads over french fries, and exercise daily. What we're supposed to do doesn't always happen, even with the best of intentions. We're here to support you and give you some tips for improving your social media posts.
We've selected Facebook as the social media platform for this article but the advice and suggestions we include will also be helpful for other forms of social media.
1. Post Regularly
We've said it before but we'll say it again. There's no sense in having a social media presence if you lack a robust presence. If you take the time to establish a Facebook presence you need to regularly (daily, every other day) post on Facebook. Your institution is a ripe bed of content. There's always something happening on a college campus that can be reported on Facebook.
Consistency in the quality and types of posts you create can help your audience know what kinds of messages to expect from you.
2. Boost Your Important Posts
You can reach a larger audience by boosting important posts. When you regularly make social media posts you reach a specific audience, i.e. those individuals who have "liked" your page. If you want to reach a larger, yet still targeted audience, you can set a budget within Facebook through the boost feature. You will set the time frame, the budget, and the target audience. You will then expand the reach of your post, hopefully encouraging new "likes" and interactions.
3. Images Are Powerful
Including images in your posts helps you in three ways. First, Facebook promotes posts with images allowing them to appear in more of your followers' newsfeeds. This has to do with the Facebook algorithm which "rewards" posts that include images. Second, images are eye-catching and appealing. Isn't it better to post a photo of students enjoying a beautiful winter day on campus, building snowmen in the quad, than to write, "Our students are enjoying a snowy day." Finally, posts with images are more shareable. You want your posts to be shared as this will expand your potential base of viewers.
The perfect size image for a Facebook post is 800x600.
4. Provide a Link
Use your Facebook posts to your advantage. They can serve as a Call To Action to encourage followers to take a positive action. Direct prospective students to your website, micro-sites, custom landing pages, registration forms, articles, and more by inserting links into your Facebook posts. Hopefully your systems are sophisticated enough to allow you to analyze traffic from Facebook (or other social media platforms) to other sites. If you're unsure about this or don't think that you have these capabilities, reach out to us. We're happy to help you with this aspect of analytics.
5. Be Active and Responsive
If you are fortunate to receive comments to your posts or interaction on your newsfeed, don't squander this opportunity. In our recent Mystery Shopper experiment we discovered that a significant number of institutions don't resond to prospective student inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. Tsk, tsk, missed opportunities.
6. Target Your Posts
All posts don't have to appeal equally to all prospective students. Some days you will want to target prospective undergraduates while in other posts you might want to target prospective graduate students. Highlighting various aspects of your institution-- specific academic programs, key faculty members, unique learning opportunities, various extracurricular opportunities-- will appeal to different groups of students.
You can have different target segments in mind as you create your posts. Then consider boosting certain posts to specific audiences. Remember you can craft your target segment via the boost function.
7. Review Past Performance
Do you have posts that received lots of "likes?" Were some posts shared multiple times? One of the great advantages of social media is the built-in analytics function. Unlike the "old days" of sending a mass letter out into the universe to your prospect list, you can now chart the precise response and success of your Facebook posts. If you aren't already doing so, take the time to review your analytics and determine which posts have success. Are they sent at a certain time of day? Do they focus on a certain topic? What commonalities do your successful posts have? Once you determine the factors for success, you can better create effective campaigns via Facebook.
Do you have other ideas on how to create effective Facebook posts? We always love hearing from our readers. Feel free to share suggestions or questions in the comments section.