“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).
Scheduling and Analyzing with Hootsuite or Sprout Social?
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.
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.
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…