What is a #ContentStrategy & why does your school need one?

Content is king, but distribution is queen…and she wears the pants
— Jonah Peretti, CEO of Buzzfeed

Marketing is not the same today as it was 50 years ago. Ok…it does seem an obvious statement to make - a lot has happened since then after all. However, would it be as obvious to say marketing today is not the same as it was just five years ago? 

In terms of technology, more breakthroughs and shifts have occurred in five short years than they have in 50 long ones! Via the prevalence of technology, and the surge in social media, the way we buy as consumers has changed dramatically.

In a recent article we explored the 4 C's (consumer, cost, convenience and communication) of modern marketing. It highlighted how the Product - the traditional focus of marketing - has been replaced by the Consumer. This shift puts marketing in a customer-first mindset: does the customer respond to this? Does the customer empathise with this? Does the customer appreciate this? In order to be valued by the customer you need to possess value for the customer.

What IS a #ContentStrategy?

In modern terms, a content strategy is the drive behind the development, planning, creation, delivery and management of your content.

In other words, it is the who, what, where, why and how for all your marketing. Since the consumer now desires content they can engage with and that adds value to them, it is down to you and the school to see that this is delivered. 

Luckily, schools have a wide range of outlets to help communicate and share their content, including:

  • social media
  • school website
  • newsletters
  • parent portals
  • apps
  • digital publications

It's about knowing which platform will reach which demographic. The first two, however, are essential. Get these spot on - using a well devised Content Strategy - and you are more than half way there!

How to create a #ContentStategy

Devising a top content strategy is a task requiring lots of adaptation. But you can start building the foundation of your strategy by answering who, what, whenwhere, why and how.

Who

The first step demands research and understanding. You need to know who you are targeting with your marketing.

To do this you should curate personas - parent profiles - of your community. These different personas will cover important information such as:

  • gender
  • income
  • family size
  • career
  • values / goals
  • education / background

Use this handy checklist to help develop your personas, and what questions should be answered about them.

Armed with this information you will be able to select the content that will resonate with your community most effectively; you will be able to curate your what...

What

The what is defined by your who. In other words your audience will mould everything about your content, such as:

  • substance (great stories must have substance)
  • form (the type of media used)
  • style (funny, cute, monochrome, flashy?)
  • topic (which conversations will your demographic engage with?)

With a clearer picture of who you are marketing to, it should be easier to decide on what type of content you will use. 

TOP TIP: Be willing to experiment with the different forms of content you can create. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • visuals (photos / infographics)
  • blogs / vlogs
  • audio
  • video
  • newsletters

When

When should you post to social media? When should you send your weekly newsletter? When should you publish your next blog or article? Knowing the answer to these questions will form a core part of your content strategy.

For social media refer to the infographic below (click to enlarge), to help form a basis for scheduling content. To make this even more efficient try using these scheduling tools to streamline your school's marketing.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Infographic by SurePayroll.com

TOP TIP: As a school your optimum times are likely to change, particularly with networks like Twitter where you should be sharing #SchoolStories as they happen. With this in mind be experimental with your posting times and use analytics to review impact and level of engagement.

Where

An obvious consideration for your content strategy is where to put your content. As noted above, schools have a wide range of channels to share their content on - so it becomes a question of which channel works best for the selected media (what) being used.

What media works best on what channel?

What media works best on what channel?

Understanding the where is something we really get, and we are here to help you understand it too. Get in touch if you want to talk to us about social media training or marketing strategy

Why

Perhaps the most important question to answer - why are you posting the content? Perhaps, as as school, you are looking to boost your pupil numbers? Perhaps your are looking to boost numbers, but in a certain year group (i.e. nursery / pre-prep)? Perhaps you are over-subscribed and looking to increase your school's profile nationally or even internationally instead? 

These considerations are incredibly important if your content is to have the desired effect. Launching a tailored campaign to your community will only be as good as the relevance it has to your why.

How

The final question to answer is howHow does your content, and the strategy behind it, answer all of the above. If this in itself cannot be answered then your marketing will not have the desired effect. 

To answer your how, your strongest ally will be in reports and analytics. These will allow you to actively see what is working and what isn't. For social media there are plenty of great reporting tools to help you with this, and for your website look no further than Google Analytics.

We are experts in digital marketing tools, and Google and social analytics - and what you to be too. This is why we run our #intSchoolsLIVE workshops for schools (for FREE). There are still places left on our Google Analytics masterclasses, at various UK locations.

 

We are here to help! We see the future of school marketing residing within social media and want to see more schools sharing their unique, amazing #SchoolStories with the world.

We offer training days for schools - where we will come and talk to the whole school, to inspire their part in marketing and sharing all those great #SchoolStories. We will help define your content strategy and support you in its employment across the entire school. It's time to ✨stand out✨ from your competitors!

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. We'd love to discuss this or anything related - so be sure to leave comments / thoughts in the comment box below. Have a great day.

What tools can boost your marketing game?

Social media in itself is a big, wide world. While there are many amazing things you can use social media for, particularly in your school's marketing, you can risk spending too much time on it.

We have listed six of our favourite tools - which we use daily - to help combat issues of time, to make your marketing and social media use more efficient and productive, and to give you a boost in the content you create.

Social Candy

Social Candy is quick and easy way for you to get your #SocialScore - basically a number representation of your influence and reach on Twitter. Simply type in your Twitter username and hit Candify! to receive your score out of 100.

61 out of 100? #SocialSuperstars 🙌

61 out of 100? #SocialSuperstars 🙌

The great thing about using Social Candy is there is no limit to the number of requests you can make. Keep up-to-date with your #SocialScore every day, week, month or however you want to monitor. 

You can also keep track of other Twitter accounts: perhaps your sub-accounts (i.e. sports, music, library, Year 5 or your Head's Twitter feed), or even competitors, similar schools further afield, celebrities and popular accounts.

Use Social Candy to monitor your own accounts, while also looking at other people's #SocialScore: it should help you better devise your marketing strategy! What works for you and what doesn't (this will be reflected in the rise and fall of your #SocialScore)? Does a competitor have a higher score? Consider what it is about their Twitter account that makes this the case.

Ooh, a piece of candy

Ooh, a piece of candy

Buffer

Buffer is a tool that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts from one platform. It is incredibly useful to use as part of a marketing strategy - easily scheduling content to go out across your different channels throughout the day / week.

Buffer is free (with some limitations), with an optional subscription if you want to add more accounts or schedule larger amounts of content. If you have a few channels (Buffer connects to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram) then the free version is all you will need, but if you have multiple accounts then the paid subscription may be a great investment.

The biggest benefit for your school is that you can quickly schedule content. Buffer allows you to set preferred times throughout the day, or you can even allow Buffer to work out the best times to schedule. 👍

We consider Buffer to be a top tool for scheduling - it is easy to use, easy to link social channels to, and has a range of features that can help drive brand consistency! These include link-shortening (such as Bitly - see below) and a handy browser-based app called Pablo, allowing to effortlessly create and schedule visual content.

Read our in-depth Buffer guide here.

Bitly

Bitly is a link-shortening service that allows you to shorten, track and analyse links across social media, email, print, and other online/offline channels.

The service allows to have your own branded, custom links. For example, we use schoolbyt.es and BBC use bbc.in as their custom Bitly links. 

Having a link-shortening service, like Bitly, is an effective way to deliver a more defined brand around the content you are putting out there.

Need help setting up your school’s custom Bitly? Email our social team.

Pocket

Pocket allows you to save articles, videos, photos, and much more, for later.

If you see something interesting and what to read it later, just save it on Pocket. This also allows you to build up an archive of great content that you can start sharing a later date.

The only down side? It can be quite addictive saving interesting articles and you can end up giving yourself a little too much late-night reading! 

Evernote

One for list lovers OR people who know organisation is a problem areaEvernote is a tool designed for note taking and archiving your life.

Notes can be pieces of text, photos, webpages, files and more. The major benefit of using Evernote for social marketing is, you can create and store your content in Evernote (which has some very handy extension apps for browsers such as Chrome and Firefox).

TOP TIP:

Create multiple notebooks (collections of notes) called:

  • To do
  • Doing
  • Published

This will help you really organise your content.

Have a great idea? Create a note with the idea and put it into ‘To do’. You can then come back to it at a later date (you're welcome 😆).

Google Analytics

Google Analytics doesn't really need that much of an introduction. Well, hopefully not?! 😮

Not only does it help you understand which social channels drive most traffic, engagement and conversions, but it can also help you create great content.

Take a look at your most popular pages and look at the behaviour on them - bounce rate, avg. time of page, conversions. Does a particular type of content resonate better with people than another? Yes? Create more of that! 😃

The level of detail within Google Analytics is incredible - but the wealth of knowledge that can be extracted from it is worth any investment in time! 

 

Found any of these tools useful or perhaps have a few suggestions yourself? Share them in the comments below, and let your peers and social community enjoy the many wonders of these tools 👍.

Want to know how to use these tools effectively? Ask our social team, or arrange a training date with Interactive Schools.

4 C’s: The modern marketing replacement to the 4 P’s

Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day
— Beth Cornstock, Vice Chair: GE, Founder: Hulu

There are a number of undertakings we choose to embark on in life that mean, no matter how long we focus our attention on it, our work will never truly be done. The main examples that spring to mind are parenting, education and, of course, marketing.

As marketers, there will never be a time to rest back on your laurels. There will always be a new trend to pay attention to, or a new device or app that demands your attention. And it's not just the means of marketing that is subject to major overhauls; the very methods marketers employ to communicate effectively with their target audience are also liable to evolve over time.

One tenet of marketing that has been going through a metamorphosis over recent years is that of the marketing mix and more specifically, the 4P’s. It seems that where P once reigned supreme, the 4C’s are now where it’s at.

 

The Parties were at P’s Place…

With origins dating back as far as the early 1940’s, the 4P’s can be attributed to marketer and academic, E. Jerome McCarthy. Known as the Original Marketing Mix, they provided a decision-making framework when it came to the following marketing aspects:

  • Product

  • Price

  • Place

  • Promotion    


A Cooler Cat…

In 1990, a seemingly cooler cat, Robert F. Lauterborn proposed an alternative framework. The 4C’s were born:

  • Clients / Consumers

  • Costs

  • Convenience

  • Communications

This proposal came about at a time when there was a deliberate shift being made from mass marketing to a more niche kind. The consumer (not the product) was now king and marketers had to adapt accordingly.

Nearly three decades have passed since the coining of the 4C’s. During that time, they have continued to grow in relevance in comparison to their P counterparts, but why is this?

 

P’s or C’s

Following the shift in marketing mix approaches, marketing methods also had to adapt. The decline in a one-size-fits-all mass marketing ideal meant the 4P method of marketing (where the emphasis is on the seller and what they want to sell to you) was no longer viable. The growth of niche marketing and the 4C’s was instead a better fit, taking into account the wants and needs of consumers.  

Once the differentiation of approaches are outlined it becomes clear that, when it comes to marketing your school, the 4C’s marketing mix is a better fit for you and what you are trying to achieve.

For a parent, the process of choosing the school they will be sending their child to is a unique one - as unique as their child, in fact! Likewise, the same decision-making process is an extremely personal one. And unfortunately the 4P’s are just not personal enough.


Customer vs Product

In the customer vs product discussion we need to look at what it is you are actually selling.

An education, opportunities and fond memories of a childhood well spent are not a product. The intangibility of what you offer to every pupil who matriculates through your school means you cannot easily market your product. But the 4C's have the solution to this. If you can't focus on your product, you can focus on your customer. 

Having the client as your focus in your marketing strategy is incredibly important, particularly when it encourages you to better understand your customer - not just how you can get them to buy what you’re selling.

What do your parents want by sending their children to your school? What do your pupils want? By crystallising the answer to this question, your school can ensure you are offering the core experiences and services that appeal to your target audience.

  • What subjects matter most to your pupil’s parents?

  • What will aid your students the most in the future?

  • Which extra-curricular activities will turn out well-rounded individuals into society?

  • Which ways do your parents want to be interacted with, and for what purpose?

  • What kind of careers do your parents and pupils envisage for themselves? 

  • What languages will be of most relevance in the world in 15 years time? 

These are just some of the kind of questions that present themselves when the focus from your marketing mix is on the customer and not simply your (intangible) product.

 

Costs vs Price

While an acceptable price point for your product is an important part of any marketing mix, when there is a more consumer-centric focus we realise, that for your prospective parents, it will not be the sole financial consideration that will be taken into account.

My child is costing me how much?

My child is costing me how much?

When a parent decides to enrol their child at your school, they know that paying for the services and benefits you will provide will not be a one-time purchase. By paying their deposit, by submitting their application, they are agreeing to pay fees for the foreseeable future. They are aligning themselves with the decision that they will be required to pay for uniforms and trips, and to attend and donate to your charity events, among other things.

Further to this, while we are aware that competition in the marketplace is healthy, encouraging businesses offering similar products to up their game and vie for buyer attention, a sole financial competitor strategy is not the way to go. According to Rory McClean (Web Marketer and Digital Analyst with Custom Fit Online), when you “rely strictly on price to compete you are vulnerable to competition - in the long term”.

Well, it's not stupid...but it's not smart either

Well, it's not stupid...but it's not smart either

If the only financial considerations you are taking into account are your school fees, you are leaving yourself open to another school (with a better marketing strategy) swooping in to tell your prospective parents why their school is better than yours.  

Using the cost aspect of the 4C’s as opposed to the price of the 4P’s you will be able to illustrate a more realistic approach when marketing to your prospective parents - one that is more in-line with their considerations and obligations. Yes, they know private schooling is an expensive business but your marketing team can take the time to assure parents that the value you will imbue into their children will far outweigh their financial outlay. This can be measured in the: 

  • the skills they will acquire

  • the friends they will make

  • the grades they will achieve

  • the notable universities they will be able to apply and be accepted into.

Further to this, you can also highlight financial aid to those it may be relevant to - leading us nicely on to the next element…

 

Convenience vs Place

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you don’t like where you are - move! You are not a tree!” While this is sound advice for an individual with the ability to get up and move, it is not something that can really be applied to your school. Your building is your building, your school is your school! Once again, it immediately becomes clear that ‘place’ does not really have a place in your marketing strategy. On the other hand, the customer oriented approach of convenience is something that can most certainly be employed by your marketing team.

In the context of the 4C’s, convenience is about making the process of your customers buying, accessing of or using your product as easy as it can possibly be. To do this, you again need to take into account the needs and habits of prospective parents and pupils.

The most obvious area in which you can provide convenience for parents and pupils is via your website. You can do this by providing the information that is going to be of most relevance to them, in the most convenient and easily-accessible way.

Our analytics show there are key pages on your school’s website that will generally experience higher levels of traffic from prospective leads. In descending order with highest levels of traffic at the top, these pages are:

  1. Admissions
  2. Fees
  3. Welcome from the Head / About Us
  4. Opening Morning / Day Events
  5. Bursaries and Scholarships
  6. Contact 

Using this above information, your marketing team can ensure the most sought after information about your school and pupils is made easily accessible. If the information that matters to your prospective parents also matters to you then the task of converting enquiries to enrolments should become that much more achievable. 

 

Communications vs Promotion

Promotion of a product can at times be considered a manipulative facet of marketing in the eyes of consumers. It is propagated by the seller, and as such can be deemed untrustworthy in its account.

Not sure if this is a genuine testimonial or one written by the marketing team...

Not sure if this is a genuine testimonial or one written by the marketing team...

Communication on the other hand implies a shared conversation between both the buyer and the seller. Used alongside the proliferation of social media, and its adoption by schools as a communication method, your ‘advertising’ can not only be achieved with incredible ease but also prove to feel extremely authentic. 

Communication is so much more than advertising though. It is every single way your school is able to interact with parents and pupils. The most prolific of these methods is of course your school’s social media platforms. The sharing of your #SchoolStories helps those interested in establishing relationships with your school to really begin to understand you and your pupils on a personal level. This in turn can eventually lead to greater brand loyalty.

It is a perfectly feasible notion that parents will now be looking to connect with your school via the various social platforms you subscribe to, in order to begin getting an idea of who you are and what that could mean for their child long before their intended enrolment.

Employing a plethora of communication methods (social media, emailing lists, etc) and coupling these with other methods of promotion will go a lot further than promotion on its own - both in terms of engaging with your target audience and staying ahead of the competition.    

 

So where’s the party at now?

While the original 4P’s still have a place within the marketing mix (they still pose important factors to think of when marketing a product or service), it is arguable that they do not fit in with the needs of today’s marketing objectives. The 4C’s have more relevance, particularly when it comes to marketing educational institutions and other companies offering intangible products and benefits.

The abstract nature of what you offer as a school, coupled with the fact that you are offering something extremely personal to your target audience, means you will have to really understand your audience. The 4C’s help you achieve this in a way the 4P’s could not, especially if employed as a sole marketing method.  

Having said that, it is also really important to remember that every business, product or service out there is different. As such, they may call on a marketing mix as unique as they themselves are, a mix that amalgamates the eight elements we have discussed in this article.

When making these kinds of decisions, there are a number of variables to take into consideration. The one thing that won’t change is the fact that marketing as an industry will continue to evolve. In order to stay ahead of the game, marketers need to ensure they continue to ‘mix it up’ in the most relevant ways.

Why social media training is important

Schools! Marketers! Senior Leadership Teams! The fear of social media in schools is driven out of ignorance, not knowledge. Social media is not a fad. Unlike cassette tapes or CRT televisions, we will be seeing a lot more of social media over the coming years.

It’s time to pull your #Head out of the ground and start to truly understand how to use it! More importantly it’s time to leverage these content channels effectively as part of your school’s marketing.

Humans are driven by the need to be happy, part of a community and the need to share good news. Social media is the conduit to achieving this. Don’t let someone else’s negative story impact your brand. Start telling your own #SchoolStories, and watch your community share, like and retweet your content around the world.

Social media is no longer just a job for the marketing person. People all around schools are using social media to communicate with audiences - whether that be with prospects, parents, pupils, alumni etc. Anybody within the school, who uses Twitter, or any other social media channel, is marketing the school - they are a voice of the school.

With this, it is essential that people using social media (or thinking about using it) are trained to ensure they use it effectively.

Understanding the social media channels

Channels can be broken down into content types - statuses, photos, videos, audio, blog posts, publications, etc. By understanding each content type, and their relevant channel, you can start to choose the right channel to post to.

Twitter is the most popular social media channel for schools – but is often severely misunderstood. Generally, this lack of understanding can be boiled down to how the channel is used - its purpose and its functionality.

Do you know how to design and brand your Twitter account? How about using lists? Do you know the difference between a Reply, a Retweet and a Like?

By understanding each social media channel, you can also minimise any of the common social media mistakes. Here are some mistakes we see schools doing all the time:

  • starting a tweet with an @ sign
  • sharing everything at once
  • using hashtags unnecessarily #WhyWhyWhy
  • auto-posting to other channels

You don’t do any of these…do you?

Consistent branding

Consistent branding - @PipersCornerSch

Naming is crucial on social media, to ensure your accounts are visible and consistent with each other. The design of your accounts must be consistent with each other. Yes, there should be some personality on each account, but it still needs to be branded.

Training ensures that people understand your school’s brand online, and why it needs to remain consistent across the multiple channels and accounts being used.

Aligned goals

Your school must have a cohesive strategy and plan on how to best utilise social media. By training everybody within the school, you can ensure that everybody understands how social media aligns with this strategy.

Effective use

Social media is about telling inspiring and exciting stories. What happens if something exciting happens at the school? Tell it! But we want to ensure that the stories happening at your school are being told effectively.

What tone of voice? How should I link to content? What content should I link to - news, video, tweet, publication, photo / gallery, audio, resource?

Which channels should I use!??!

.png

Not every channel is relevant to your school.

Take Pinterest for example. For schools it certainly has its uses: e.g. amazing for collaborative projects, between pupils and teachers, in design tech or art lessons But this is true only if it is being used effectively and if there is a plan and strategy behind it.

We’ve got some great ideas on how you can use Pinterest, Instagram, SoundCloud etc. We’d love to share these with you.

Measuring

Training can show you how to measure the effectiveness of your social media usage. By understanding how to measure social media, you can make data-driven decisions.

Content can be improved by measuring the success of previous campaigns - what worked? What didn’t? Measuring the optimum time to share, and where content is being shared, can greatly improve your engagement with your community.

Using third-party tools

Social media can be more productive with the use of third-party tools. This will help you and others save time by optimising social media usage. Just like the social media channels themselves, there are tons of tools you can use! Understanding the pros and cons of each is key to choosing the right ones for you - Hootsuite, SproutSocial, TweetDeck, Buffer, SocialCandy etc.

Social media training 

Educating the educators - we're here to help!

Educating the educators - we're here to help!

Social media training IS important for schools - it is too useful a tool to be neglected by a lack of understanding. 

We are here to help! We see the future of school marketing residing within social media and want to see more schools sharing their unique, amazing #SchoolStories with the world.

We offer training days for schools - where we will come and talk to the whole school, to inspire their part in marketing and sharing all those great #SchoolStories. We will help define a strategy that can be employed across the entire school - making you ✨stand out✨ from your competitors. Pretty cool right!

#intSchoolsLIVE UK

We are also running our #intSchoolsLIVE masterclasses, at locations across the UK. These workshops are entirely FREE, and for school marketing professionals to help develop social media skills, particularly as part of a school marketing strategy. You can book tickets for the social media workshops below, or check out our other masterclasses in Digital Marketing and Google & Social Analytics.

Thanks for reading. 😃

We hope that this article inspires a revolution within schools - bringing them up-to-date on issues of social media and technology. It is too easy to try and ignore the changes in learning and marketing, thanks to the drive in technologies over the past 10 years, but it is essential to recognise that tech will only continue to evolve. Without the right training and the right comprehension you will be left behind...and being left behind is no longer an option

4 scheduling tools to streamline your school's marketing ⌚️🙌

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
— Annie Dillard, author & poet

Time management in schools is an important facet of day-to-day work. We all know school life is busy, often bordering on hectic, so being able to manage time effectively is an essential skill to master. This remains true for all staff - from the Head, to the teachers, to the admins and registrars, to the marketing team.

Thankfully, there a plenty of tools to help you achieve this - especially for all you marketeers. We will look at 4 scheduling tools to help streamline your school's marketing and free up more time for other ventures 👍

 

Buffer remains a firm favourite at @intSchools HQ. For us, it's a fantastic tool for scheduling across our different channels. 

Pros:

  • connects to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram & Pinterest (Awesome accounts only)
  • very simple interface for scheduling
  • clean design - helps you focus on crafting content
  • easy to post to multiple channels at the same time
  • it's FREE (you can upgrade to a pro service)
  • connect URL link shortening services (i.e. bitly)
  • has a mobile app
  • integrates with Pablo for quick visual content creation

Cons:

  • purely for scheduling - no interactivity with your community
  • limited analytics and reporting
  • FREE account allows you to only connect one profile per channel (and no Pinterest)

Buffer's charm comes from its intuitive and simple infrastructure. It allows for easy scheduling and more focus when writing posts - without the distraction of loads of data bits.

Use Pablo to create visual content. HINT: perfect for quotes

Use Pablo to create visual content. HINT: perfect for quotes

We like Buffer because it allows us to leverage auto-posting. This means we can spend a little time in the morning planning our content for the day, schedule it on Buffer and know it will be sent out. 

How can you use it on your school?

This does not mean that it is perfect for your school. A large part of your marketing relies on being able to monitor and engage across your channels - which Buffer is not great for.

The consideration is simple: if you want a tool for planning your content on and nothing else, Buffer is ideal. If you want a tool to plan, monitor and engage on your social channels then there are others to consider.

Buffer is a useful tool but has limitations that perhaps make it less ideal for schools. Check our in-depth guide to Buffer here - and see if you feel if it's suitable for you.

 

Where Buffer is simple and clean, HootSuite comes in with lots and lots of features to offer you a bespoke and customisable tool for your social media.

Pros:

  • connects to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram & YouTube
  • can connect further "extensions" such as MailChimp, SoundCloud, Blogger (over 160 to choose from)
  • extensive reports and analytics
  • can make your dashboard bespoke to what you need, per channel
  • Hootsuite Academy provides you with all the tools you need to use the platform
  • schedule a single piece of content across multiple channels easily
  • can assign and schedule updates
  • has a mobile app

Cons:

  • dashboard can be initially overwhelming
  • free version is quite limited (Hootsuite wants you to sign-up for a plan)
  • reports (ranging from $50 - $500!) and third-party extensions (usually a monthly charge) can quickly add up
  • can only use Hootsuite's own URL link shortener (owl.ly)

We all know that managing multiple social media accounts can be time consuming, particularly if you're a smaller school and do not have a dedicated marketing person / team. Hootsuite is a highly recommended utility to help combat time restraints and get you engaging more effectively with your community.

How can you use it on your school?

Hootsuite offers unrivalled analytics and ability to control multiple streams of social media. The major drawback can come down to costs - it is not the cheapest platform available; schools with limited marketing budgets are likely to be put off by this.

However, if cost is not an issue and you can invest time into learning Hootsuite intimately, (they have all the resources you could possibly need for this via Hootsuite Academy) then it is a fantastic tool. In short, it means you can post, reply, like, engage, schedule and source content for all your different channels.

Schools, more and more, are taking to using multiple channels. Having tools such as Hootsuite or SproutSocial (below) to help administer them will ultimately prove to be a huge timesaver.

 

SproutSocial has risen to fame quickly, and with good reason too! It is a robust and intuitive tool. It does not have the same level of depth as Hootsuite, but does have more to offer over Buffer.

It is the middle-ground of the platforms we have explored in this article but fully deserves consideration as a top scheduling tool you can utilise effectively.

Pros:

  • connects to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ & Instagram
  • you can also connect Google Analytics 👍
  • can add multiple profiles and groups (very handy if you oversee a group of schools)
  • multiple users can access - each with customisable admin rights
  • has a mobile app
  • can connect RSS feeds
  • can view Twitter and LinkedIn walls / feeds
  • can use bit.ly for URL link shortening
  • can assign tasks to yourself or other users for better planning

Cons:

  • does not connect to more visual channels such as YouTube or Pinterest 
  • feeds are quite hard (visually to navigate)
  • can be expensive - especially for teams
  • easy to read reports but quite limited
  • hard to keep track of engagement (e.g. who you have replied to or liked)

SproutSocial, much like Hootsuite, gives you (and your team) better control over your social media. The more that your school invests in multiple social channels the more it becomes essential to use tools to keep that control firmly in place. 

How can you use it on your school?

We consider SproutSocial to be as useful as Hootsuite - particularly in smaller schools where costs are a genuine concern.

The major question for many boils down to usability. We find many first-comers to scheduling and management tools don't want to spend lots of time learning how to use them - making Sprout a fantastic choice! It is a simple, clean platform that can be quickly accessed and understood. If scheduling and management is the main aim then use SproutSocial. If this plus detailed analytics and reports are desired, Hootsuite may be the better option.

 

Ah TweetDeck - another favourite for the @intSchools team 😃 . TweetDeck is owned by Twitter and is exclusively for Twitter. This means it has evolved to be the ultimate Twitter tool - and can do everything Twitter can do (often better).

Pros:

  • especially designed for Twitter (owned by Twitter)
  • it's free - completely FREE!
  • easy to learn
  • can create bespoke dashboards to monitor Twitter as you require
  • few everything in real-time
  • very good browser-based platform

Cons:

  • only for Twitter (depends how you would view this 😉)
  • no reports or statistics
  • having lots of columns open can be hard to navigate on small screens
  • browser-based only: no app available  (makes it harder to use on mobile devices)
  • makes us say Twitter a lot...Twitter 

TweetDeck looks like a lot to begin with, but once you grasp the idea of columns it is incredibly easy to use for monitoring. As a tool specifically for Twitter it cannot be rivalled; especially when all data streams in real-time (no more refreshing your Twitter wall to see the latest Tweets). 

Viewing TweetDeck be like...

Viewing TweetDeck be like...

How can you use it on your school?

If Twitter lies at the core of your marketing - something we are seeing more and more in schools - then TweetDeck is easily the best tool for you. It enables you to not only manage your Twitter accounts (no matter how many there are) but also engage quickly and easily with your community. The use of columns makes the layout simple enough to follow, and live data feeds gives you the most efficient way to monitor activity.

Getting onto TweetDeck is easy and really should be used by any school that is using more than one Twitter account as part of their marketing. You can read our handy TweetDeck guide here.

 

Do you use any of the above in your school for monitoring, scheduling and reporting? What about any that we have not listed here - we'd love to know about them 😄. Please leave comments below.

At @intSchools we want schools to use social media effectively.

If you want to talk to us about social media training or strategy please do get in touch. We 'get' schools, we 'get' marketing, and we 'get' technology.