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PART 1: Marketing Series – by Mara Roberts "Reaching Local Families Through Social Media"

Home Forums Members PART 1: Marketing Series – by Mara Roberts "Reaching Local Families Through Social Media"

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    • #7422
      Mara Roberts
      Forum Participant

      Join us for this THREE PART MARKETING SERIES moderated by expert Mara Roberts.

      Read the article below and have a two-way discussion with members and Mara:

        1. Based on your experience, please share some social media strategies that have worked for your school.
        2. Discuss some strategies that you think did not work very well. Why do you think this was the case?

      About Mara Roberts
      Mara is a digital marketing specialist with a hands on, results-driven approach. She has a special passion for the schools sector, having a track record of innovative solutions. She holds an Honours Degree in Marketing Management. For more information about Mara, visit

      PART ONE: Reaching Local Families Through Social Media

      With the increasing expectation that schools maintain a healthy presence on social media, your time can quickly get consumed with developing interesting content, posting regularly and moderating comments, but is all the effort worth it? Can social media actually be used to engage local families and increase enrolments in a measurable way? 


      Typically, the decision of which school to send your child to is a complex one with parents weighing up several options, visiting schools and talking to friends. The buying cycle is more complex than seeing an ad and then buying the product. Understanding how your families make the decision of which school is best for their child will help you engage your families at each stage of their decision-making process. Social media is an amazingly effective tool to nurture people from the first contact they make with your school, to enrolled family and then loyal ambassador.


      Marketers are well aware of the concept of ‘touch points’ –  it takes several ‘touch points’ with your school for a parent to ultimately turn into an enrolled family. When using social media, a touch point could be:

      • An engagement with a post
      • A visit to your website
      • Viewing a school video, or 
      • Downloading a brochure.

      When school marketers approach their social media campaigns with a longer-term understanding of their customers decision making process, they actually achieve better results. The objective is not to create an “enrol now” post to get enrolments immediately, but to engage as many viable families from your catchment with interesting and engaging content. Get creative and stop posting pictures of children in school uniform – talk to the real mums and dads out there. 


      Ok, let’s get practical, how can you engage local families? I know you’re busy, so let’s get to the point. You can start by sharing the content ideas below on social media:  

      • Get teachers talking about important educational issues in a short video
      • Create a blog on your schools website that’s more than school news and updates
      • Post interesting articles and resources for parents that has shareable value, or
      • Create or join a local community group for families.


      Ok, great, so you’re starting to get engagement, is that it? Don’t make the mistake of stopping there. We love likes and comments but what do they help if we never contact these engaged followers again? The beautiful thing about social media today is that you can create audiences based on previous engagements with your posts and ads! Take it to the next level by re-engaging families through:

      • Creating retargeting lists of people that have visited your website or specific pages of your website
      • Building your email lists with downloadable resources 
      • Building Facebook audiences from people who viewed your videos
      • Building Facebook audiences from people that have engaged with a specific post, or
      • Building lookalike audiences based on your current ideal audiences.

      How do you build these retargeting audiences? The first step is to set up a Google remarketing pixel and Facebook ads pixel on your website. You can then use these pixels to your full advantage by creating rules of how audiences should be built using the tool available on the Google Adwords platform or in the Facebook Ads Manager.

      The opportunities for retargeting engaged families is almost limitless. Using social media to its full potential, you can quickly see how a carefully planned strategy can lead a parent from liking a post on Facebook, to visiting your website, to seeing a remarketing ad for a downloadable resource (and thus subscribing to your email list) to accepting an invitation to an open event.

      The next time you stop post to your social media, take a moment to sketch out the full ‘life-cycle’ of how you will reengage with the people that like or comment on your post. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to experiment!


      • This topic was modified 5 years, 7 months ago by Naomi De Rosa.
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    • #7444
      Mara Roberts
      Forum Participant

      Let me know what social media strategies have worked for your school and feel free to ask any questions below.

    • #7448
      Abigail Williams
      Forum Participant

      Hi Mara, Thank you for sharing your tips and strategies. I would just like to clarify what you mean by “building lookalike audiences based on your current ideal audiences.” Can you expand upon this point please?

    • #7449
      Mara Roberts
      Forum Participant

      Sure Abigail. Facebook has a feature where you can upload the email addresses of your most loyal customers and it then takes the profiles of your list and builds a new ‘lookalike’ audience based on the demographics and behaviours of your current list. It’s a way to target a new potential audience that is more likely to be interested in your school because they match the profile of your current families.

    • #7458
      Susanna Wills-Johnson
      Forum Participant

      Hi Mara. Thanks for the article. We’ve found regular posts with lots of photos that show the diversity of our school calendar works well, and in particular our series that I started this year ‘Humans of Carmel’ has been a big hit. What didn’t work so well for us was Facebook live. Being a Jewish School safety is really important for our families and some of them were uncomfortable with us posting an event live. I’m wondering if others have used FB live before, and with what results? Our reach and engagement was great on the live video, but it might have been great regardless because the content was engaging.

      • #7461
        Mara Roberts
        Forum Participant

        Love it! I’d love to hear others’ experience with Facebook live too. I think schools getting a little out of the box with their marketing is great even though we have to ensure our students are well protected privacy wise.

    • #7459
      Di Lawrence
      Forum Participant

      thanks for your first installment Mara. This is just what we are working on at the moment. It’s good to have our research confirmed

      • #7463
        Mara Roberts
        Forum Participant

        Pleasure Di, look out for our next article next month.

    • #7460
      Margo Bastow
      Forum Participant

      Dear Mara great article!

      Thanks for sharing your insights. The Custom Audience feature is fabulous and Facebook are just rolling out retargeting to people who have interacted with a post as well. They were also talking about being able to retarget to people on Instagram via the Facebook Ads module. This is really exciting!! I think you will find that most school marketers say that when they survey parents about how did they find out about the school it is via friends and family. This is why Social Media…. especially Facebook is great…. I describe this as a place for word of mouth amplification.

      At Santa Maria we are using Content Marketing to drive enrolments and this is proving to be extremely successful. It has taken a while to get into place but now we are nearly in full swing. We have created the change…. especially with the way we do our newsletter – check our blogs at
      and our Santa Maria College Facebook Page.

      Facebook Page engagement has been 46%, 68%, 68% – benchmark is 2.5% – reach around 20,000 per week. This will increase when we start doing some FB ads.

      PS. Just in case anyone is not familiar with a pixel this is a piece of coding that is placed on your website to track who visits each page. If you are not great with the back end of your website your web developer can set this up for you.

      • #7462
        Mara Roberts
        Forum Participant

        Hi Margo! Love your website! What a breathe of fresh air seeing a website that is mobile optimised and modern. Reaching 20,000 before starting ads is a great result!

        I would love for you to share the process of how you started with content marketing and how you got the Principal and College leaders on board. Are you working with an agency to do the work?

    • #7464
      Margo Bastow
      Forum Participant

      Hi! No agency have done this myself thats why the process has taken longer than I would have liked but early days and believe it is only going to get better. I will share some insights I am presenting on this at the WA Chapter Conference. So when I get a little bit more time… I will put some notes together.

    • #7503
      Mandy Cosser
      Forum Participant

      This is really interesting for me, as St Mark’s is only now starting to do social media marketing. I look forward to learning more.

      • #7517
        Mara Roberts
        Forum Participant

        Thanks for the feedback Mandy … be sure to ask your questions on the forum as you try a few new things out.

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