We all know how pervasive social media has now become in today’s society – yet it seems that schools still have a ways to go to catch up. So why is social media important for schools and trusts in the UK?

Statista revealed that in 2020, the age group most likely to have a social media profile in the UK was 35-44 at 91%, according to data from Ofcom. This marked the first time the group overtook their juniors in the age groups 16-24 and 25-34 – the latter of which were also more likely to have a profile than younger age groups.

This information is greatly important for schools – and academy trusts – for two very important reasons.

Firstly, admissions. As birth rates decline and competition for admissions continues to grow, making sure you’re able to master your marketing strategies is critical – and with many parents between the ages of 25 and 44 now dominating the social media population, your school is missing a trick if it’s ignoring this channel.

Secondly, brand recognition. Social media marketing can be more targeted, and is often a key source of information for anyone researching a particular brand or company.

It’s the digital equivalent of a shop window – you get to show the world who you are, what you stand for, and the benefits of being associated with your brand, as well as showing off your success. So, given social media such a powerful tool to build your reputation, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to advertise via these platforms?

And the benefits don’t stop there. In this article, we take a look at the important role that social media has found in education, and how schools across the UK are embracing the power of these digital platforms to enhance their marketing success.

Traditional vs Social Media

Don’t get us wrong, traditional media still has many positives. It can be a great way to engage with your local community, and can be seen by a wider audience.

However, you need to take some of this with a pinch of salt. For a start, while a wider reach sounds great, it can be difficult to measure the results from a billboard, a poster in your local newspaper, or an advert on the side of a bus.

It can also be costly to run. Many advertising spaces will charge a large sum of money for you to promote your school, with little in the way of measurable results to show for it.

Fortunately, where traditional struggles, social media can often excel.

With a relatively small amount of funding, social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to run targeted campaigns on a specific scale – for instance, you could easily target the age group 25-34 on Facebook in the London area. Or, if you were recruiting staff members, you can target anyone with an education-based background in your local area.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it is much easier to measure the levels of engagement your advertisement is achieving. Social platforms will often provide an insights or analytics dashboard, which will help you to track how much interest you’ve generated.

These platforms can also open the door to new forms of content that may not have been so easy to create, such as polls, photo albums, slideshows, and videos.

In essence, while traditional media still has its place, social media frequently provides a more flexible and budget-friendly option for achieving your marketing goals.

The impact of social media on outcomes

Following work we carried out with schools in Swindon, we compared the self-reported reach for: the main local newspaper, the Swindon Advertiser; popular local radio station, Heart Wiltshire Radio; and a paid Facebook advertising campaign.

The newspaper campaign managed to reach a total of 22,000 people in Swindon and the surrounding area, of which 8,360 were in the target demographic of 34-54 years of age.

The campaign over Heart Wiltshire Radio had a better reach, with a total of 83,000 across Wiltshire, reaching 35,690 people in the target age group.

Lastly, the social media campaign managed to reach 240,000 people across Wiltshire, including a total of 94,000 people between the ages of 34-54.

As you can see, the Facebook ads reach a far larger audience even before any targeting is introduced. With the addition of targeting, the Facebook advertisement still achieves a higher reach across the county than the total reach of the local radio and newspaper adverts.

For an admissions campaign carried out with The Ridgeway School, a secondary school in the Swindon suburbs, we used the following parameters to effectively target the right Facebook users within a smaller geographic area:

  • Located within 15km of the school site.
  • Aged between 30 and 50.
  • Matching any of the following interests: Primary education, secondary education, secondary school or primary school, parents: parents with primary school-age children (6-8 years), parents with teenagers (aged 13-17), or parents with pre-teens (aged 9-12).

More bang for your buck

With a budget of just £100, the campaign resulted in a total of 17,240 Facebook users viewing the adverts. This translated into 105 users visiting the school’s admissions page and 6 users clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ button on the school website. With every new pupil equating to thousands of pounds in government, even if just one of those 6 users joined The Ridgeway, it would represent a huge return on investment for the school.

As these numbers demonstrate, by using paid social media advertising, your school can target a very precise demographic and still reach a lot of people. What’s more, they’re the right people; an audience that is far more likely to result in increased admissions to your school.

If you then consider that paid newspaper or radio adverts cost considerably more than £100, and reach an audience filled with people who can’t have an impact on your admissions, the evidence suggests social media ads are a more cost-effective and lucrative option for your school.

Taking the next steps

At Eduprise, we help schools and trusts to make the most of their social media channels by writing social media policies to make sure that all their staff are on the same page.

Our team has over 20 years’ experience in drafting successful social content that can improve your schools’ engagement. If you’d be interested in getting set up with a robust social media policy, or would like any other help with getting results from social media, get in touch with us today.