How to #StandOut: The Head's Welcome conundrum

At @intSchools we promote one core ideal for you to integrate into your school's marketing: ✨STAND OUT✨. We see, day-in and day-out, so many of the key marketing tools employed by schools failing to live up to this simple mantra. Chief among these are the school website.

Now imagine you are a parent, looking for something that really speaks to them - the place they want to send their child to gain an education. If your site looks like any of the above the likelihood is they will skim right past it. 

The Head's Welcome

Let's focus on one change that really can make a huge difference when employed properly. Yep, you guessed it: the Head's Welcome

This is often one of the first pages that new visitors to your site will visit - or are directed to. So when we saw this article from TES we were shocked to see that so often what should be a really good, engaging Head's Welcome is lost in a world of 'same'.

This just will not do! It is so important to ensure that it is as good as it possibly can be - it should reflect the school's brand as well as the personality of the Head. In fact, we would say that of all the pages on your school's website this is the one that you can inflect real human-to-human engagement

Take a look at your Head's Welcome page. Notice the language used. Now tick off each word from the image below. How many are in there? 1? 2? 5? All of them? It's no surprise - this is the type of language that has been synonymous with schools for a long time. Let's be fair, every school is keen to highlight that they have high standards of excellence; that they achieve outstanding results; and are the best at what they do. School's are always proud of their pupils, who leave with strong and confident personalities; and school's are, of course, rich in learning; an exciting place to study; and a safe haven to develop in.

We get it - these are all huge, massive, gargantuan traits that schools are keen to be advertising. However, imagine you are that parent again and you're looking at 10 schools in the area. You read this similar message 9 times and something with a bit more honesty and creativity just once. Which one are you going to remember?

Every school is starting to sound the same.

What do I do?

Tailoring a super-innovative, original and mind-blowing Head's Welcome is no easy feat. Really, there is no one-stop piece of advice we can offer. Instead we can offer some guiding points - the rest is down to you!

  • Understand your competition: The best way to move away from your competition in the quest for originality is to research them. Understand what they are saying about their school. Note the points that are similar to your own school and the points that don't appear genuinely unique to their school (if any). This will give you a starting point on what to avoid and a focus on making your school's own uniqueness come through.

 

  • Understand human behaviour: The way we are reading websites and taking on information has dramatically changed from even 10 years ago. A key element to always consider is peoples' attention. On average a person will spend less than 60 seconds on a webpage, unless they are engaged. With this in mind be succinct in your message and display it in short paragraphs (think of it as bite-size segments).

 

  • Keep it relevant: Having a proud heritage or a building built 400 years ago might be interesting for you - but does this interest the parent looking at your school? What does an old building offer their child? They want to know about the education and care your school will provide. Keep it relevant to the people who will be reading your introduction.
  • Be honest: The article, linked above, from TES made it clear that what many Head's are writing in their welcomes are attempts to cover negative issues surrounding the school. While some of the examples noted in the article are a little tenuous it does promote something important - honesty. There is no shame noting the school's difficulties (perhaps with budget or staff numbers). This is to offer parents and stakeholders a wider picture of your school.

 

  • Show proof: Almost every organisation will have a motto, a mission-statement, a strapline. But what do they actually mean? Most of the time, they are created because that's the normal thing to do. We want schools to prove that the words they are saying actually mean something!

Learning a lesson

The Head's Welcome is important for two reasons:

  1. As we have already noted it is often the first page that parents and stakeholders navigate, or are navigated, to. It goes without saying that the first impression is vital to whether or not this person will remember what they have seen or look to invest in your school.
  2. The Head should always set the bar. Yep, the Head is the school's leader and an example for other departments and individuals to follow after. If you make the Head's Welcome as the prime example of what is good, it stands to reason that the rest of the website will follow. 

Just remember that the aim of the game is to...

We would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Comment below.

The evolution of the iPhone

Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.
— Steve Jobs

Let's be fair - smart phones and tablets have become standard household objects for many of us; as common as refrigerators or washing machines. In the UK, it is estimated that at least 65% of the nation own a smart phone in some respect. The smart phone has also replaced laptops as the number one device for accessing the internet. 

This all equates to some pretty interesting facts about consumer habits and how marketing is having to adapt to impact on the shorter attention spans we are developing.

Amazingly, this trend has not been long-lived; we are only really just getting started with using technology in this way. In fact, it was only back in 2007 that it all truly began. Yes, this was the year that Apple - led by Steve Jobs - released the first generation of the Apple iPhone.

While there were many shortcomings with the device, it was undoubtedly an exciting and innovative release, which quickly set the bar for other competitors to aspire to. Since 2007, the iPhone has gone through no less than 10 generations of devices - with the 11th (the iPhone 7) now clearly on the horizon. How then have Apple evolved the iPhone to remain fresh and desirable in an extremely competitive market?

iPhone Evolution.gif

The first gen iPhone might not seem much by today's standards but it really was the first phone of its kind. On January 9th 2007, Jobs took stage as he announced Apple's newest product. He said: 

Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone. 
Today, today Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.

Later that year (June 29th to be exact) iPhone was released to the US market. It took 74 days to hit the first million units shipped mark. Fast forward 9 years and over a billion iPhone units (across all 10 generations) have been sold to a global market.

iPhone (2G) (June 2007)

The first iPhone set the standard for what we see in today's smart phone technology: it was touchscreen; used apps; made large use of digital media; and provided access to the internet. The phone came with a 320 x 480 pixel resolution (the very best of its time), a 2MP in-built camera and 8GB of internal storage. It certainly had it shortcomings (i.e. it did not utilise 3G, and the only available apps were directly from Apple) but it provided a solid foundation for the next version...

iPhone 3G (July 2008)

...the slightly confusingly named iPhone 3G. If the iPhone 1 was a good success, the iPhone 3G was monumental! Consumers were now offered high-speed internet connectivity via 3G, and the App Store was given a huge overhaul to radically improve it. In fact, this overhaul is the same business model you see today - not just on Apple products but Windows laptops, Smart TVs and many other products. Design-wise, the iPhone 3G was sleeker and the back cover changed to a shiny black.

iPhone 3GS (June 2009)

Consumers were largely disappointed with the 3GS launch - citing that not enough had been done to make this stand out against the 3G. However, a new 3.2MP camera, larger storage, significant performance upgrades, video recording capability, and voice control (pre-Siri) all added up to make this model a far more powerful version of its predecessor. 

iPhone Evo - unlock.gif

iPhone 4 (June 2010)

The iPhone 4 proved to be a massive step-up from the 3G / 3GS. For starters, Apple were able to integrate their Retina Display - pushing the screen resolution up to 640 x 960 pixels. A much-improved camera (5MP) was added and HD video recording became available. 

iPhone 4S (October 2011)

Externally the 4S was exactly the same. Internally however, graphic capabilities were largely improved and a new 8MP camera installed.

The 4S was also the first time that Siri was exclusively available on an iPhone. Ok, so Siri back then (and still today to be fair) was not perfect. However, its introduction was the first of its kind for smart phones. If nothing else, it showed that Apple were still ahead of the game in terms of innovation.

 

iPhone 5 (September 2012)

The newer model has very little in terms of specific upgrades. Instead, Apple looked to change the screen size and aspect ratio - delivering a longer screen running at 640 x 1136 pixels. While this model lacked the usual technical innovation, consumers were largely pleased with a crisper, bigger display.

iPhone 5C / 5S (September 2013)

The 5C and 5S releases were interesting. It was clear at this stage that Apple stock was taking a slight toll, as more and more Android and Windows based phones were coming to the market. To help stymie the gap Apple released two new iPhone versions.

iPhone 5C was almost exactly the same as the iPhone 5 - barring a few aesthetic and battery-life changes. It was intended fully as the more affordable iPhone option, to directly compete with those competitors who were able to  undercut Apple in terms of unit cost. In fact, the iPhone 5 was taken off the market so that the 5C was the only option for consumers looking for a phone at this spec and price.

The iPhone 5S was the notable upgraded version. It provided more power, a better battery, a better camera, and a new fingerprint scanner for added security / fun. It was also this year that Apple released the newest version of their operating system (iOS 7). This was a significant upgrade for Apple users and was perhaps the biggest selling point for the phones.

iPhone 6 / 6 Plus (September 2014)

Consumers were taking note in 2014, ahead of the iPhone 6 launch. Last year had seen two new iPhones introduced and successful sales had led to the product officially being the top-selling smart phone of all time. What could Apple do this year to ensure that this fact became legacy?

At the iPhone 6 announcement, Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) stated that:

Today, we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone.

And so, for the first time, two completely different sized models were announced!

While this is not the most exciting news, it does point towards one major thing - understanding how consumers are using their devices. In having a larger model, Apple are offering a choice between function and aesthetic; that is to say those who want to continue using their smart phone as it is vs. those who want to get more out of their smart phone, from a watching and interacting point of view. 

Aestheticism is the major selling point for the iPhone 6. Both display size and quality were radically improved - the 6 gaining 0.7" in screen size and the resolution jumping up to 1334 x 750; whereas the 6 Plus had a mammoth 5.5" and full high definition display of 1920 x 1080 (that is TV quality in your hand). 

It is important to note that the 6 Plus is not a tablet device - but somewhere between phone and tablet (phablet). Yes, it is a word that now exists!

To date, this is the most pre-ordered Apple iPhone; the record being absolutely smashed on just the first night it was available to order.

iPhone 6S / 6S Plus (September 2015)

In terms of hardware, much stayed the same from the previous year's models. Apple used a tougher alloy to create a sturdier, more resilient product, and the rear-facing camera got upgraded to 12MP. To accompany the new camera was a new feature - Live Photo - allowing a few seconds of video to be recorded for every photo taken.

The major new feature however was Apple's new 3D Touch technology. This allows different functions to be used dependent on the amount of pressure applied to the phone. For example - users can preview messages by pushing down on the Messages icon lightly, or quickly go to the Alarm window by pushing down on the Clock app. 

Click to enlarge

iPhone SE (March 2016)

The latest version of the iPhone, the SE, holds nothing new compared to the iPhone 6 models. It basically is a newer version of the iPhone 5S with new camera, higher storage and the new iOS 9 software. 

This is intended to be a cheaper option to keep Apple competitive against their mid-range competitors. 

iPhone 7 (September 2016)

Apple's big reveal for the iPhone 7 happened this month and the first pre-orders will be shipping out very soon.

Apple have upped their game once more and there are some new features to take special note of:

  • No headphone jack: Yes, perhaps most controversial of all is Apple's decision to totally remove the usual 3.5mm audio jack port at the bottom of the device. Initial response was not good, as many consumers feared that they would have to buy new equipment just to use this feature, but all is not lost. While there are new, Bluetooth earphones that can be bought (£159), Apple will be shipping out both a set of Lightning EarPods (which connect via the charging port) and an adaptor so you can use your normal earphones (again connecting via the charging port). This has already caused quite a stir but it could be said that innovation has to start somewhere. With wearable accessories becoming more marketable, why not have wireless earphones? 
  • Dust and water resistance: this year Samsung have sold their latest phone, the Galaxy S7, very well on the strength of it being resistant to water and dust. While you can't take it on a Jules Verne adventure, it will survive the typical slip into the bath or toilet. It is unsurprising that Apple have followed suit.
  • Battery life: Apple have vowed that this is their best ever battery, with an expected life up to 2 hours longer than that of the 6S.
  • iOS 10: The launch of the iPhone 7 will match the launch of iOS 10, which promises to have the most intelligent version of Siri yet!

It can certainly be said that Apple have done their utmost to pioneer this technology sector. The initial release of the iPhone in 2007 has inspired other companies to create smart phones - but it is always Apple that seem to remain ahead in bringing simple, incredibly effective and very creative innovations to consumers.

Do you think Apple are pioneers? Has the evolution of the iPhone always been ahead of the curve? We'd love to hear your views on this article. Please comment below.

Which social media should I be thinking about this year?

Happy #BackToSchool time everyone!!! Yes, it's the new academic year and you might just be wondering what social media breakthroughs have crept up on you over the summer holidays. 

Here is our handy summary of the social media you should be on RIGHT NOW, or at least getting very excited for! So...where shall we begin?

STATS!

Yes, statistics. We all love them - don't lie. These numbers and facts help us to see the reality of how entities such as social media effects us. More importantly they offer guidance in where your school should be driving its social media marketing strategy.

Overall

Click to enlarge.

It will come as little surprise that Facebook is the largest, most populated country out there.

In fact, if you were to add together Facebook and the companies that they have purchased, namely Facebook Messenger; What's App; and Instagram, the population would equal 3.9 billion people (users). That is over half the entire world!

Teenagers (13 - 17)

Knowing your audience is the simplest but most important rule for any business. Luckily your current, and indeed future, audience is providing all the data you need - right now! 

Right now social media has an incredible presence in the life of teenagers. It is important to realise that what they are engaging with now will shape what is developed in the near future. 

% of all teens 13 - 17 use....

  1. Facebook : 72 % 
  2. Instagram 52 % 
  3. Snapchat 41 %
  4. Twitter 33 %
  5. Google + 33% 
  6. Vine 24% 
  7. Tumblr 14%
  8. Other 11% 

Facebook trumps all once again. However, particular attention needs to be paid to Snapchat and Instagram. Both are image and video sharing platforms and both are quickly rising through the ranks with this age bracket. 

Snapchat vs. Instagram stats: 

  • 73% of Snapchat are millennials 
  • 60% of school pupils use Snapchat daily
  • 30% of Snapchat users use it because their parents aren't a user
  • 71% of Snapchat users are under 25 
  • 90% of Instagram users that are younger than 35
  • 41% of Instagram users are between the ages of 16 - 24

You can see by these stats that these two sites are dominated by a younger age group. 

Learning these platforms throughly has two major benefits:

  1. You need to know how to safeguard your pupils. Many parents will either not use or simply not understand Snapchat and Instagram, so it falls to you to ensure that your school is educating the correct and safe way to operate on them. 
  2. From a marketing point of view your younger parents, and your upcoming parents, will be more au fait with Snapchat and Instagram. Knowing how to utilise and market well across them will make your school stand out against competitors. 

Mars vs. Venus

Just as with age, gender plays an important part in the social media marketing world. For example: Pinterest has a 70:30 split weighted towards women. That is really quite an astonishing majority and should be noted.

Knowing social media preferences between male and female is really important. What might work well for mother could be ineffective for father. Below are some handy images showing basic stats on the gender divide for the more popular social media sites. 

The rise of live-streaming

We think it's safe to say that this year's hot topic in social media will be centred around live-streaming. This, in essence, is streaming video across social media...live!

Many of you may well have heard of Periscope - easily the most popular live-streaming platform currently available. 

Periscope stats:

  • 10 million users
  • 2 million users live-stream daily
  • 75% of users are aged 16 - 34
  • 15% of the top brands on Twitter user Periscope regularly
  • 29% of Periscope streams are posted by women

Already we are seeing some fantastic uses for Periscope, and similar applications, by schools. For example one school live-streamed their entire sports day - event by event. This simple act enabled parents to watch those events their children were participating in, even if they couldn't attend the day in person. Other uses could include: live-streaming concerts and drama performances, or showing prospective (perhaps international) parents around your school without their needing to actually be at the school!

Honourable mentions

Currently there is no one social media platform that does all. Facebook and Twitter are both working towards this, but right now it is important to utilise the current offerings to their focussed and greatest strengths. To this end we have our honourable mentions list:

YouTube

Most people will know YouTube - the home of funny cat fails and Charlie biting fingers. This is the site for videos! 

This is where you should be posting all video content - and sharing as links across your other platforms (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). YouTube specialise in video content so this is the safest and most efficient way to ensure that your video content is displayed and plays to its best.

YouTube is owned by Google, so to make the most of it a Gmail account is required.

Flickr

Likewise, Flickr is one of the best options out there for photography / images. It is a very simple site to get to grips with; excelling over Instagram and Snapchat in that it is capable of storing tons on photos - neatly organised into album folders. Albums are easily shared, in the same way as YouTube videos, to be disseminated over your social media sites. 

Flickr is owned by Yahoo!, so a Yahoo email is required to sign-up with. 

SoundCloud

We've had video and images - how about pure audio? Yes, SoundCloud is the perfect spot to host your audio content. These could be audio recordings of school concerts or perhaps student language lessons.

Issuu

Finally we have Issuu - a fabulous source for your published content. We see schools host newsletters and similar publications via Issuu quite often - but what about other ideas? Perhaps an anthology of pupil's poetry over the various years? 

Issuu arranges published work through 'stacks' - the premise being you create a stack (i.e. "School Newsletter") and organise content in that way.  

There we have it!

So that ladies and gentleman is a brief stat-fuelled summary of the social media world in 2016. Facebook and Twitter will remain the major port of call for most people, and businesses, but it is having a sound knowledge of other platforms, and their strengths & weaknesses, that will make your own marketing strategy more efficient. Remember - everyone is connected to everyone nowadays so it is more imperative then ever to STAND OUT!!!

What are you views on the upcoming and important social medias for 2016? Comment below.

5 books about social media from OUR inspiration

It is no uncommon site to see a blog post with 5 of the best this or 25 amazing thats. Books are no exception to this. Just Google '5 best books for ...' (enter anything) and there will be a host of lists devised by experts, fans and bibliophiles. To this end, putting together a list of the best social media books is a nearly impossible task. It would mean having read every book on social media in existence and taking everyones' preference into account. 

Instead we have listed 5 books from some of our social media heroes. These are the leaders we look to for inspiration, when defining our social media presence, and are among some of the most talented marketers to grace the digital, and physical, realms. 

So, in no particular order.

1: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy World by Gary Veynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is the ultimate businessman. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit, Gary is a proven investor and advisor in the world of startups, and now an expert on the Fortune 500 world, through his work as CEO of Vaynermedia, a social media marketing agency. Having two bestsellers under his belt doesn't hurt either.

Right Hook is his ode to delivering that knock out shot in the marketing world. He inspires readers to change how they fight in business and how they look to make customers happy. With social media having changed so progressively over the last 10 years he notes that context as well as communication is a winning form; creating great content is as important as creating relevant content.

We love displays and symbols and stuff that quickly and silently tells the world who we are. Better yet, we love visual reminders of who we want to be.

2: The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He was also the chief evangelist of Apple. Guy is the author of thirteen books. These books are textbooks for the finest academic institutions in the world and have been both New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. His writing focuses on the tactical and practical in order to empower and inspire.

Peg Fitzpatrick is a writer, speaker, positive vibe producer, a social media butterfly and connector. She has built an engaged following on social media of over 1,300,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. In her writing and social media she will give you ideas for inspiration and the motivation to get it done!

The Art of Social Media is a thorough guide, for beginners and experts alike, to really nail down social media campaigns: from inception to delivery to analysis. It is filled with over 100 tips and insights for readers to expand their online presence across the social media platforms. Their combined knowledge cultivates years of practical experience in social media and marketing. 

Sharing good stuff is 90 percent of the battle of getting more followers. Almost everything else is merely optimization. End of discussion.

3: Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer

Jay Baer is a social media strategy consultant, and founder of the firm Convince & Convert, that works with leading companies and their agencies on social media integration. His Convince & Convert blog is one of the world’s top English-language marketing resources, as was ranked the #3 social media blog in the world. Jay is also the founder of 5 companies and has consulted for more than 700 companies.

Youtility prompts a clear question to marketers: how can you help? In social media marketing you are already vying for attention against the public, against customer's friends and family. To stand out you need to be offering something to them. Jay's premise in Youtility is simple but effective - if you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

...stop trying to be amazing and start being useful. I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “infomercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way.

4: Social Media Explained: Untangling the World's Most Misunderstood Business Trend by Mark W. Schaefer

Mark W. Schaefer is a globally-recognised speaker, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at one of the top marketing blogs of the world. Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for 30 years and now provides consulting services as Executive Director of U.S.-based Schaefer Marketing Solutions.  He specialises in marketing strategy and social media workshops.

Social Media Explained is the book for those who are too busy to spend hours trying the learn the fundamentals of social media marketing. It is heavily backed by the psychological and sociological findings of social media on people and culture, and what makes it work effectively. Schaefer explores this subject in a clear and easy to understand manner, and will make readers ask the right questions about their own marketing plans. 

...the social web is simply bringing us back to our marketplace roots where personal connection, immediacy, and word of mouth validation are the most important marketing considerations. We’re returning to the way people have ALWAYS wanted to buy from us – person to person. Humans buy from humans.  And now you have the opportunity to humanize your company and join in the commercial renaissance, too.

5: Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, father and lover of all things orange. He is the founder of Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organisation for content marketing. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe not only writes one of the most influential content marketing blogs in the world, he writes a column for Entrepreneur.com and is a LinkedIn Influencer. 

Epic Content Marketing is a bible for all things content. Joe draws on his years of experience to explain how to attract prospects and customers by creating information and content they actually want to engage with. No longer will readers need to interrupt customers with mediocre content and sales messages they don't care about. In short, great, epic content will be rewarded - and the reward is sales!

Content marketing without a loyal audience is not content marketing at all.

 

 

To commemorate this article intSchools will be starting a monthly book review to help bring you texts that can massively improve your marketing prowess. Our first review will be shared out on our social media outlets at the end of each month.

The first book we are going to review will be the first on this very list: Gary Vaynerchuk's Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. 

Have you read any of the above or have any suggestions you'd like to make? We'd love to hear some comments below.

The @intSchools #BackToSchool Marketing Guide

We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.
— Erik Qualman

This will come as no surprise, we are sure, but the summer holidays are grinding to a very sudden end! This means rushing, preparation, panic, confusion and for some, knee-jerking excitement/fear as the new school year looms closer by the day.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, it is #BackToSchool time. This means it's time to boot up those computers and return your tanned fingers to the keyboards, as you look to stoke the social media fires that have been slowly glowing duller. 

What's that? You've forgotten what a Tweet is and all your Instagrams seem to be of half a thumb? Don't worry - we've got you covered. 

What does social media do for me?

Social media is the perfect way to create an accessible, engaging and dynamic community. Your community can include staff, pupils, parents and prospective families. It is the best way to be able to reach all of these people, but you do have to be fully committed to make the most of it. 

One of the most exciting aspects of having a good social media presence is the three-way relationship that you can build between pupils, parents and your school. Why is this important?

Well, first of all studies have proven that involved parents will have a greater impact on their children's education. If you have a platform where parents can see their children's work and exploits at school it can lead to driving involvement up.

Secondly,  you are offering a service where parents can communicate easily with the school. So longing as responses are punctual and helpful the level of trust between parent and school will grow. This will mean that your school's brand and reputation will also grow in the local, physical community (remember, people talk 😃).

How to get started.

We are going to assume that you have some social media already set up, most likely Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (or a combination of these three). What should be looked at, and rectified where needed, is your school's vision and how this is represented on your social media outlet(s). By this we suggest these basic principles to follow:

  1. does your social media page reflect your school's theme? In other words if you advertise your school as being traditional is this represented by the style of your page's headers, icons and images? Or if your school is known for being highly creative in the arts is this reflected?
  2. do you have a brand message? Consider your website; what is the core message you are trying to put across, and does this translate across your social media? Again this is about consistency but specifically focussed on putting your school's value(s) out into your community.
  3. if you have multiple platforms are they consistent with one another? Is your naming strategy consistent throughout? Does each social media outlet have the same school crest as it's profile picture? Do the headers match or follow a theme of sorts? If the answer is no then it would be highly worth making some small, simple but effective changes.

Check out the video below from Wimbledon High School - it is a fantastic example of their core message "Imagine" and is the first thing visitors will see on their school website. 

Now look at their social media sites for Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, alongside their website landing page. They have theme and the school's core value (Imagine) consistently throughout. This is what you should be striving for!

With everything looking good what should you do to start? Obviously #BackToSchool is a huge event. It sees the return of pupils as well as an influx of new ones. Here are some small tips that can help you disseminate the momentousness of the occasion to your community:

  • begin posting helpful, valuable and highly relevant content. This can be anything that you feel will be of value to your followers. Some ideas are:
    • term start times
    • transport information
    • where to buy supplies and uniforms
    • important events related to the start of term time (e.g. assemblies that new parents can attend during the first week)
    • afterschool clubs times/fees.

Make your platforms a well-known place for parents to find the information they require

  • senior members of your school, including the head, can introduce themselves. This can be a short post wishing everyone luck on their first day or a message to parents about an exciting year to come. Remember, this is about building a sense of community so seeing content from the 'leaders' can go a long way

Know your social media platform.

Having a sound understanding of the various platforms out there and what each can offer is an essential step in developing your strategy. Luckily we have some fantastic infographics that provide an oversight of each social media and what they can offer in their unique ways. 🙌

Getting more followers

Having a strategy is of course very important but absolutely fruitless if people aren't following you. It is time to think about how you can begin to drive your list of followers up. Luckily we have pulled together some cool ideas that will quickly engage more parents to follow you.

@ or # stuff!

Yes, sounds simple enough but putting your social media handle or school-related # onto things is an effective way for parents and pupils to know that you have a presence online. How about using chalk and tagging your school asphalt or pavement for the first day back? Or creating some merchandise that parents can buy - t-shirts, frisbees and bags being some simple items to arrange. It doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg and the end result can be a thriving virtual community for you to oversee.

Raffle

Have a raffle, with prize winners to be announced on social media. Nothing will get people following you faster than the promise of a prize!

Promote the traditional way

Yep, even social media can benefit from the old-school methods. Posters, leaflets and actual newsletters can be employed to make people aware that you are also online. Boost hype by developing a large first-term campaign - all details to be revealed over the weeks on social media.

Snapchat Geofilters

A bit more specific but the Snapchat Geofilter is an amazing way to engage the younger parents and their kids. Snapchat is incredibly popular with 13-24 year olds. Geofilters work by being an overlay image on the Snapchat application - specific to a geographical location. You can create one for as little as £5 and specify a date range when this will be available. This guide explains everything is greater detail. Employ Snapchat Geofilters and really show off your ability to be part of the digital world.

What can I post?

With the basics being taken care of, and your list of mums and dads growing by the second, it's time for the fun stuff: what you can post across your platforms. The short answer is (pretty much) ANYTHING. The core thing to remember is value. ALWAYS VALUE!

How about considering a few of these ideas?

  • Build excitement around the first day back: obviously time is limited for the actual #BackToSchool date but you can start building excitement with a few simple posts. Perhaps introduce new staff members and bid fond farewells to those who departed at the end of last term. Post an animation or short video recapping the previous year with the tag line, 'Let's make this year even better.' Announce the fantastic A-Level and GSCE results that are now out. Be innovative and have some fun - it will translate to interested followers.
  • Cheat-sheets and handy instructional videos: for the less tech-savvy how about a video or animated guide showing them how to sign up on social media, post questions to the school or even turn on notifications so they can be alerted to your school's posts as they happen? 
  • Success from the pupils: 90% of parents who follow your feeds are likely wanting to see their child doing things and being successful. Promote this, it will be one of your greatest assets. Parents will be happy and you will effortlessly build an archive of images and videos for prospective families to view.

The #BackToSchool Strategy

Ok, so we have spoken about some of the principles behind social media but now it is time to focus on the big part - the strategy. This will be the most important part to implement and maintain. It will undoubtedly change as the year goes on - to meet the demands of your school - so we have 5 Interactive Schools inspired actions to take and really kick off the new term:

1. Does your marketing STAND OUT? What will make you different to your competitors? This is all about being that needle in the haystack; the big fish in the big sea; the diamond among the rough. This is the essential part of the strategy and so much of it boils down to creating an emotional impact on the end users: parents, pupils and prospectives. 

2. Does your social naming match throughout? This is one of the ways we believe will make your social media STAND OUT and makes it easy for anyone to find you across all platforms you operate on. This point is covered in the 'How to Get Started' segment. Remember, it is so incredibly important to aim for a consistency with your social media. This may require making some small changes (i.e. ensuring all social media profile icons are the same) but it will equate to a big difference.

3. Do you have a content strategy framework ready to use at your school? This should cover all the details such as:

  • what to post
  • when to post
  • who posts
  • where it is posted
  • ratio of school-related posts to non-school-related posts
  • who governs the profiles.

If you don't have one then make sure you define one. This will essentially be a one-stop guide for you to refer to when considering the coming social media marketing plan.

4. Is your process to communicate with parents streamlined? This isn't just about responding to queries raised by parents via social media; it is about how you get information to them. One great way to make a huge dent in this process is asking parents to turn notifications on for your profiles. This will ensure that when you post they will see it.

5. Finally, do you have an audit process in place to make sure content is only published once? Nothing looks more unprofessional that your feed filled with the same image because too many people are trying to post at the same time and it was not clear who was doing what. We recommend using scheduling tools such as Buffer (you can read our guide to using Buffer here) so that multiple people can see what is being queued up for publishing. 

We can help

All this may seem simple to some and unreasonably complex to others - that is only natural. What we want you to take away from this is we are here to help! This is what we do as a company; our mission is to help schools STAND OUT online. 

We would therefore love to invite you our intSchools LIVE event - 5 cities, 5 days, #coffee. From 19th - 23rd Sep 2016, Interactive Schools CEO & Founder, Simon Noakes will be taking to the English roads, so you can talk to him personally face-to-face. This is an amazing opportunity to ask him anything about social media marketing in schools. To book an appointment (60 minute slots) click the button below. 

The locations are:

Otherwise we are here to help in any capacity we can. You can head to our website and fill out a contact form with any queries you may have, or send us a query in the comments box below.

Book an appointment with Interactive Schools using SetMore

We hope that this guide has aided you in your #BackToSchool preperations. We'd love to hear some of your stories, comments or thoughts about social media marketing and this article. Comment below.