2 Tools to Help Keep Your Sanity When You’re Using Social Media to Promote Your Technical Career Center

“It is especially important to understand these marketing practices, as information they provide to parents has the potential to either enhance or inhibit decision-making.” ~Catherine DiMartino and Sarah Butler Jessen

Before I share information about effective social media management tools I want to take a moment to discuss why social media should be used for marketing technical career centers in the first place.

The Hidden Treasure

A couple years ago my friend came with me while I presented scholarships to two students graduating from a high school career center. As the various programs were announced my friend leaned over, exclaiming, “Wow! I didn’t know they offered all of these ‘programs.’ I never heard of New Visions Medical (see below). This is amazing!” Her daughter had graduated the previous year from one of the “sending” schools; the school provides information to all students the year before students can enroll – so why wasn’t my friend aware of the ‘hidden treasure,’ all the offerings available for students? Why are people still believing ‘myths‘ about career centers (aka vocational technical high schools)? Is it because the schools aren’t marketing themselves effectively?

Communication Should Be a Two-Way Street!

As career centers continue to try to ‘get the word out’ they must include social media in their marketing ‘toolbox.’ As Ms. Sisira Neti points out, “social media, today, is among the ‘best opportunities available’ to a brand for connecting with prospective consumers.” Social media allows businesses to socialize with both their prospective and current customer, connecting with them in ways that allow deeper relationships and trust to be built. By listening to what is being said on social media schools can determine misconceptions and then share the correct information. According to Oyza and Edwin, “Marketers have…been given the opportunity to better understand their consumers directly from the thoughts and views expressed by them.” Schools are all about learning – so let’s learn from our community. Let our customers teach us!

Once you’ve decided on what social media sites (SMSs) will be most effective for your school or business to use (a topic for another day), posting can begin. I know it’s one more thing to do, so I bet you’re wondering…

Can I Create and Schedule Posts Ahead of Time?

Yes! Posting can become very time consuming, and without a plan it can become inconsistent. Some posts can’t be planned ahead – weather announcements, tweets during a sport event or activity, responses to your customers’ posts  (another topic for another day) – but there are posts that can be created ahead of time – a student or local business highlight – and posted via a social media management tool (SMMT), making it so marketers don’t have to be at the computer, tablet, or phone the minute a post needs to go out. (See below for more information). These SSMTs can also answer…

Is Our Social Media Communication Effectively Reaching Our Target Customer?

Social media marketing faces the challenge of gathering data and information then turning it into something in which action can be taken on. Icha and Edwin recommend social media to “be used as a tracking system,” which allows businesses to monitor pages’ traffic and compare the attention given to a product or campaign to the actual sales (or enrollment in the case of vocational schools).

Where do we get the analytics all in one place? Through SMMTs. Hootsuite and Sprout Social are two popular ones.

Scheduling and Analyzing with Hootsuite or Sprout Social?
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Hootsuite

Hootsuite helps you keep track and manage your many social network channels.” Through Hootsuite you can: post directly to social profiles; schedule posting, manage multiple profiles, have access to social content apps for additional profiles; target messages, organize team assignments, and have access to analytics. Hootsuite is free for its basic package.

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Sprout Social

Sprout Social is similar to Hootsuite in concept, but offers more robust functionality…You can connect to almost every major social media platform, schedule posts, monitor progress in terms of likes, engagements, and user activity.”  You can listen to (and learn from) customers through their conversations. And Sprout Social was created for teams!

Of course there are also drawbacks to a system. Ian Anderson Gray outlines the negatives in his articles 7 Reasons Why you Should NOT Use Hootsuite and 7 Reasons NOT to use Sprout Social, to help you determine the best one for your business.

Both HootSuite and Sprout Social allow the user to schedule posts and analyze activity on different SMSs. Which one you choose depends on what your schools’ needs (and budget) are. 

YOUR TURN…

Is your school using social media to build a relationship with your target market? It yes, what are they doing? What SMSs is working for you (if you’re using one)? I’d love to hear from you…

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7 thoughts on “2 Tools to Help Keep Your Sanity When You’re Using Social Media to Promote Your Technical Career Center

  1. elisepalazzo September 8, 2016 / 3:50 am

    Lori,

    I liked how you opened your blog post with a quote about importance of understanding market as a whole. As I’ve mentioned to another Hootsuite is new to me and Sprout is another dashboard to add to the list to learn about. I enjoy that these dashboards allow the user to set up future times to send out tweets or message ahead of time. Especially if you’re having a busy ahead. I also agree on your point about communication should be two-way not one. Specially with companies so there can interact with their customers and learn about their thought or concerns about the product.

    Like

    • Lori Narewski September 25, 2016 / 10:24 pm

      Thank you, Elise, for your comments. It is amazing all the different tools, like Sprout, can offer to help keep in contact with your customer.

      Like

  2. Sara September 11, 2016 / 12:30 am

    Lori,
    I like the use of the New Visions YouTube video in your post. Its a great marketing tool and especially effective for school programs with specialization like the one you discussed. I wrote about the pro’s and con’s of social media management tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social as well- you can read it here- https://lanternmarketingblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/must-have-tools-in-social-media-marketing-hootsuite-vs-sprout-social/
    Sara

    Like

    • Lori Narewski September 11, 2016 / 2:17 am

      Sara – Thank you for sharing the link to your blog! It was great reading your take on the two tools.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Molly Leahy's Blog September 11, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed learning about the tools that you included in your blog post. Managing multiple social media accounts and scheduling posts in advance are crucial for active social media users. While I have utilized Hootsuite in the past, it was interesting to learn about Sprout Social too. I think that it is extremely beneficial that this tool allows users to listen to real-time customer conversations. With the visibility to this information, businesses can apply their learnings to their future strategies.

    Like

    • Lori Narewski September 25, 2016 / 10:26 pm

      Molly – the tools available in both Hootsuite and Sprout Social can be so beneficial to keeping posts posting and understanding where you’re being successful and when you need make adjustments.

      Like

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