8 #SchoolMarketing tips to get the most from Facebook's new algorithm

You may or may not be aware that Facebook made some pretty significant changes to their news feed algorithm earlier this year. Now the dust has settled, we can look at how you can make the most of these changes to better your #SchoolMarketing.

...research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We...feel more connected...Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal...from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.
— Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive of Facebook

Top factors in the new Facebook algorithm

Zuckerberg's vision for Facebook, post-2018, was to deliver more "meaningful social interactions". This meant that branded content was not the primary focus for Facebook anymore, with many businesses worried about the impact that would bring. Instead, content that delivered engagement and conversation would now rate higher in news feeds. A new tactic is need.

So, what are the top factors in the new Facebook algorithm?

[1] Comments

Posts that encourage commenting are a big factor. The art is to produce amazing content that people want to discuss.

Be mindful of posts that actively provoke someone into taking an action (such as "Tag a friend" or "Comment YES if you agree"), as these will be punished by Facebook and demoted on news feeds. 

[2] Sharing

Content that gets shared more will feature higher in feeds. It is worth noting there are two main methods of sharing that Facebook will look at:

  • posts that are shared to friends (in the usual way) and engaged with
  • posts that are shared as links via the Facebook Messenger platform (expect to see more emphasis on Messenger in general).

As well as this, the shared content will need to generate good engagement to rank higher. Bottom-line: you want to create engaging content that people want to share.

[3] Reactions

Facebook have also promoted Reactions as a key metric. While many people may not want to comment or share, reactions are proving are great third way to assess how engageable content is.

Content that evokes emotive responses - funny / sad / makes you think - is more likely to be something that people want to React to.

8 tips for delivering content that ticks all the boxes

[1] Use video NOW!

Video continues to dominate in the content marketing world, especially when it comes to LIVE video:

  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook. (HubSpot)
  • 100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook. (TechCrunch)
  • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. (Wordstream)
  • Facebook videos receive 135% more organic reach on average than a Facebook photo. (Socialbakers)
  • 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. (HubSpot)

So, with video driving greater engagement, more shares and a higher rate of comments, it makes total sense that video should be incorporated in your #ContentMarketing plans for Facebook. 

Did you know: Facebook LIVE ranks even higher than normal video! This is because people spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video compared to other video content.

If you want to hit that top-level engagement and have a greater influence on your content's ranking, you should absolutely be LIVE streaming from your school.

[2] Deliver more conversation-driven content

Generating content that drives conversation is a winning formula. It may sound difficult but the simple truth is this: if you share good content that your community wants to see, it will drive comments and conversation. It doesn't take an awful lot of savvy, it just takes knowing your audience.

When people do comment, be sure to Like and Reply to appear more personable and make your community happy. 

[3] Utilise your community to share your content

As above, if you are putting great content out there your community will comment and share it. There is no harm in giving your audience a little nudge to share your content more, just be mindful how you nudge.

You should not out and out say, "Please share this post". Facebook recognises this and will punish it by demoting posts! Instead, thank people for sharing a post or give them the almighty thumbs up like.

As well as this, you can work a little more internally, and ask staff to help promote your content. In all likelihood, most staff will be following your Facebook Page,. Asking them to share your posts will help rank them higher, as it comes from Family and Friends. Stats prove that content shared in this way are 16 times more likely to be read

[4] More native content

Native content - content that is uploaded directly to Facebook (i.e. photos and videos) - is already a proven method for better engagement. Facebook are giving it even more impact, looking for people to share their content on Facebook, as opposed to other channels and then sharing it as a link (i.e. a YouTube link).

We strongly believe that any post should have some form of media with it (remember...show, don't tell) so look to add this natively. Try it out, share a YouTube video you have uploaded one week, and then share a video uploaded directly to Facebook the other. Which one has better engagement (when looking at your Insights?)

[5] Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups have been through a funny life. At one point they ruled Facebook, then they became incredibly niche. Now they seem to be returning and it's time for you to be thinking about how you can utilise them.

One group in particular screams out at us, one we think most schools should have. Can you guess what it is?

Alumni! Create an alumni group and begin to invite people to join (you most likely have a database of all your alumni's details). The beauty with groups is you can feature them on your Facebook Page, so you are still driving people to the right places.

[6] Be more savvy with your targeting

Facebook allows you to narrow down the demographics of who will see your posts. While this may not be perfect for your community, it can certainly help you with sharing content to a wider community of your choosing (e.g. a certain age group of people within a geographic region).

A good time to use this might be when promoting your Open Days. Facebook targeting should not be confused with Facebook Advertising, though it does mimic some features.

[7] When should you post?

Sending posts out at the right time of day, on the right day, will maximise who sees it and so the level of engagement you can expect.

Consider using Insights to help work this out, but a good rule of thumb is to post before the school run in the morning (7-8am) and early evening when parents are winding down (6-8pm).

[8] Facebook Ads

Of course we have to mention Facebook Ads - there is no way that Facebook would let these fall by the wayside! Facebook Ads remain an unrivalled method to boost your content and allows you to be incredibly specific with who gets to see it.

It takes a little learning (we can also help with this - get in contact) but Facebook Ads are often well worth the investment. 

 

There we have it! 8 tips to help you utilise Facebook's new algorithm and be masters of the content you share.

Have you seen an impact to your marketing efforts on Facebook? What tactics have you employed to "beat" the algorithm changes? We'd love to know! Please comment below.

Should my school have a blog?

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
— Dr. Seuss

With social media and tech innovations changing trends on a regular basis, it becomes easy for "old-school" channels / platforms to go on the back-burner. The humble blog seems to be one such outlet that schools are forgetting about.

BUT: are we doing the right thing in pushing blogs away and focussing instead on the very fluid trends of the year / month / day?!! Do blogs still have a place in your school?

BLOGGING STATISTICS

Let's take a look at the blog's place in modern #ContentMarketing for some insight:

  • blogging is the TOP form of content marketing: the top three content marketing tactics are blogging (65%), social media (64%), and case studies (64%) [source]
  • long-form content is "in" right now: the average blog post is now 1,142 words (up 41% since 2014) showing an appetite for more long-form content [source]
  • it's still popular with top businesses: 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority, so emulating this seems a sound investment in time [source]
  • Google loves blogs: companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages than businesses without blogs, meaning it helps massively with SEO [source]

Looking at these states, there are two points worth noting:

  1. blogging is even more relevant today than it was 4 years ago (despite trends in tech and social media)
  2. people want to read blogs (and big businesses know this), or at least longer form content

Still not convinced? Then how about considering these questions:

  • does your school have current parents and pupils? 
  • does your school have prospective parents and pupils?
  • are they online? 
  • do they read online?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, then your school would benefit from a blog.

The two faces of the school blog

So you've decided that perhaps a blog could work for you, but what should the focus of it be? After all, there needs to be a strategy that leads it (as with any form of content you are producing).

Typically, we see three types of school blog:

[1] the head's blog: for many schools, their head / principal is a leader of not only the school itself but of the education sector. We work with many amazing head teachers who are thought leaders and influencers in all sorts of topics, ranging from education technologies to leadership; women in STEM to creativity in the classroom.

The primary purpose of the head's blog is to be an authority person for their school, to promote and drive conversation around what your school does. They are #DigitalAmbassadors and should be leading your school's online presence.

Take a look at Nicholas Hammond's blog for The British School of Paris, a great example of just this.

The secondary purpose of the head's blog is to push the expertise within the education industry. We have seen some top examples of these thought leader blogs:

[2] the pupil's blog: who better to blog topics from (and about) your school than the very people that you have a school for? We love pupil blogs but do not see them nearly enough.

When done well, it becomes a place that can:

  • show potential prospectives what your school is about #SchoolStories
  • inform parents what their kids are doing #SchoolStories
  • highlight the amazing subjects that are taught and what your pupils learn #SchoolStories

Wimbledon High School do this brilliantly with their entirely pupil-led school publication, Unconquered Peaks

[3] the teacher's blog: the final type of blog we often see are these awesome places for learning, run by teaching staff. They are often of a similar vein to the head's blog secondary function - to be channels to share expertise. 

The British School in the Netherlands run a great blend of the last two with their Voices blog - written by pupils and staff.

So, how about it? Do you now see a place for a blog in your school? With a little planning and the right implementation, you can create a space that benefits the school in terms of marketing, SEO, community and online presence. 

What are you waiting for?

 

Does your school already have a blog? What sort of content do you share? What about a blog that was started but has been left forgotten for some time? We'd love to hear all your thoughts on this topic. Please comment below.

Headteacher earns $1m a month on Twitter! Learn How!

Did you fall for our clickbait?!! (sorry about that)

Regarded by many as annoying and unwanted, clickbait is the term used for articles / news that lure people in with enticing titles, but generally result in very little good content.

Most of us will know about clickbait, and yet we still click on these articles! What is it that lures us in and how can we then apply that to #SchoolMarketing?

7 elements of a clickbait title

Clickbait is grounded in understanding the human psyche. They play with our natural curiosity and become irresistible. After analysing lots of titles, one researcher believes there are 7 elements that make up clickbait titles:

  1. list: commonly seen on platforms such as BuzzFeed, for example: 20 restaurants that are straight-up living in the future. Lists are attention grabbing and effective lures that evoke our natural curiosity.  
  2. personal stories: using "you" or "I" in the title makes a title relatable and plays with our empathetic sides. Similarly, a story that features a person is relatable. This is why you shouldn't outrun a bear or This CEO's trick to managing hundreds of emails a day is absolutely brilliant are two great examples.
  3. animal: the internet and animals seem to go hand-in-hand. How many can say they don't know about the sneezing panda, or haven't watched funny cat / dog videos for an alarmingly long time? Break through the cute-factor with titles like: 20+ times Shibas proved they’re the most Much Wow dogs ever!
  4. recent media attention / news story: it seems obvious to say, but using trending news stories is a sure way to gain more clicks. We saw a lot of this on Facebook during the US elections. Popular news outlets even began using clickbait titles to push their content further, like Newsweek's article: Good news Donald Trump, you don't have to be very smart to be a good leader.
  5. pop-culture / food-culture reference: food and pop culture are seemingly irresistible topics. Quizzes like: Make yourself a cupcake and we'll guess your favourite cereal just seem to grab our attention. BuzzFeed's Tasty is also a great example of how to do it well, pushing content across Facebook and similar channels.
  6. unknown / new concepts: dangling an element of mystery as bait, or suggesting a new idea, makes it very difficult to resist clicking on a title. Does something like: Man tries to hug a wild lion, you won’t believe what happens next make you want to click it? 
  7. shock or excitement: suggesting something shocking and exciting is another powerful method to convince readers to click. 

Of the top performing clickbait articles:

  • 17% were listicles
  • 29% of the most shared titles mentioned “you”, “I” or hinted at a personal story
  • Only 8% mentioned an animal
  • 63% made a pop-culture reference or mentioned food
  • 63% also mentioned recent events in the news and media
  • 67% contained an unknown or new concept
  • 79% of the articles contained an element of shock

The X-Factor of titles

Did you know: combining these elements into titles can make articles even more appealing? It is just a matter of finding X.

According to the same research, titles with 3 or 4 elements within them have the greatest level of engagement!.

How to use in #SchoolMarketing

While clickbait is not the best received marketing tactic right now, we would still argue that there is value in taking the principles of clickbait titles and applying them to your school's marketing. It would be interesting to see what comes out of it. 

Here are a few example titles we had fun coming up with. Remember, 3 or 4 elements in a title seem to have the greatest impact.

  • 7 pizza recipes from the brilliant minds of children to give you goosebumps  (e.g. home economics)
  • This is how one pupil broke the school record. You won't believe how! (e.g. sports)
  • 10 trips all the kids are talking about. #4 will shock you! (e.g. school trips)
  • This is why our school is winning all the awards. Our parents can't believe it, can you? 
  • Tell us your favourite ice cream and we'll tell you what Old Schoolian you are (e.g. Alumni) 

By keeping the content light you can create eye catching titles that people will want to click. Thank you clickbait!

What do you think about this? Could clickbait hold some truth to great titles or is it all too much? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please do comment below...you won't believe what will happen!

Why you MUST be LIVE streaming at your school

Live streaming has been around for a long long time. In fact, Periscope was first launched in March 2015

Towards the end of 2017, people were beginning to really take notice of live streaming. Top social media companies were investing time in development and advertising to see it become more culturally used.

Today, different social media platforms like...

  • Twitter (Periscope)
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Musical.ly
  • Tumblr
  • Twitch

...all have live streaming functions. This is a real indication for a public desire to broadcast to the world!

We have noticed schools slowly taking up live streaming, but the time to understand and utilise it is now! Trends in tech and digital marketing are so fluid - it is important to not fall behind.

Did you know?

Why schools should be live streaming

Live streaming is a really intimate method of delivering engaging content to your school community. For a parent, it can prove a really effective way to feel close to the action and offer an emotional understanding of what their child does at your school. 

It’s the truest form of authenticity on social media. You show what is REALLY happening at your school. Right now. In real-time! 

Where can I live stream?

There are a growing number of streaming services but the important ones for your school to take note of are:

  • Twitter: Periscope is Twitter's platform for broadcasting a live stream. We love Periscope, as it offers an instant method to share top #SchoolStories with your community. Gain more engagement by promoting your broadcast before it goes live. Follow Periscope's latest news, tips and features blog, to stay ahead with the platform.
  • Facebook: with Facebook LIVE you have all the power of live streaming with the sheer reach offered by social media leader, Facebook. Feel inspired by these past Live videos, and see how people have been connecting with their followers.
  • Instagram: users now have the ability to add live streams to give their Instagram Stories extra clout. This has proven an incredibly popular feature for Instagram. Live streams will disappear after the broadcast ends (but you can save and upload as a story).

The three above are the most notable for your school, as each can be implemented into your marketing strategy effectively. Below are a few more worth noting (but less inclined towards school marketing efforts).

  • YouTube: the video-centric platform has taken to live video streams as naturally as a fish does to water (which you can watch live on YouTube - above!) There are some current stipulations to being able to broadcast on YouTube Live (such as 10,000+ subscribers), making this a harder channel for schools to obtain. Check the YouTube Live channel for a real smorgasbord of live streams.
  • Twitch: the world’s leading social video platform for video game culture. Twitch is incredibly popular with the gaming community and younger people, with new consoles having their own Twitch services so anyone can broadcast their gaming to the world. Not a huge platform for schools to use, but a big one to know about!
  • Snapchat: the popular ephemeral messaging app is getting a live video update, but it will not allow users to broadcast in the same way.

The platform will differ according to your school marketing needs, the #ContentStrategy in place and the audience you wish to reach.

Live streaming ideas to try

Not sure how to get started with live streaming? Here are a few great ideas to get you thinking about what broadcasting can offer:

[1] Virtual tours of the school

If you’re an international school, or have international students, this is a no-brainer. 

When people are restricted by location, live streaming gives them access to see the school and have that one-to-one attention to get what they need from you.

The school can also schedule virtual open days to a wider, larger audience.

[2] Assemblies

Head’s assemblies happen. There’s no need to think of content, or stories, or anything. You just hold your smartphone and stream the assemblies. Simple.

It’s a great way for parents to check in and connect, offering them a unique insight into your school's culture.

[3] Lessons / tutorials

Schools have so much knowledge to share. Why not share this online? People (outside of the school’s community) can watch the streaming and share.

This can help you be seen as an educational resource and help increase the awareness of your school’s brand.

Perhaps you could do a weekly ‘lesson’. Each week a different department teaches something interesting. 

There’s also the altruistic view of helping the world gain access to education.

[4] Sports day

Don't let parents miss out on seeing their child win the 100m or break the school's javelin record! 

Plan in advance and broadcast each event. Share event times to parents ahead of the day, so they can tune into the ones their child is taking part in. 

[5] Science experiments

Science experiments happen all the time. These are the types of streams that do not require thought or ideas, they just happen. All you need is a smartphone or tablet and you’re ready to stream. 

This is a quick win. Just get on and stream! 

[6] Concerts & performances

Sometimes parents and family members can’t make it to performances but wish they could. Live streaming gives them the ability to watch live from anywhere in the world. 

Just be clear about how they can view and ensure that the set up works (i.e. is the recording device stable? Does it have enough battery or is plugged into a power source?)

A few tips

We have written an article for using Facebook Live, which is filled with some handy tips that can be implemented across other channels easily. Be sure to give it a read!

Live streaming is in the moment. If you want to tune in, you have to do it NOW. Fear of missing out will increase your social engagement. 

 

Has your school tried live streaming yet? How will you use it? Let us know ✍️

Anatomy of a perfect SERP

As a digital marketer, you are likely to have come across the term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). In short, it is the way you set up and optimise a website so it features higher on a search results (e.g. Google).

There are lots of ways you can improve your SEO - too many to add into a single article! This week, we will focus on something called SERP - what it is and how you can perfect it for your school website.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Whenever you search for something on Google, you may have noticed different types of results coming back? These can be:

  • standard results (e.g. a list of sites that best match your search term)
  • an Answer Box (also known as a Featured Snippet) at the top of the results page, followed by the standard results
  • a PPC advert at the top of the page (or several) related to your search term
  • a Knowledge Panel / Graph to the right-hand side of your results
  • ALL OF THE ABOVE!

It is possible to influence all of these possible results using best practice techniques around SEO.

  Things to note :  Answer Box  at top of results,  Knowledge Box  on the right-hand side,  Twitter Results  towards the bottom

Things to note: Answer Box at top of results, Knowledge Box on the right-hand side, Twitter Results towards the bottom

How SERP's are influenced

Search Engines are incredibly complex tools that use algorithms to determine the results you see. All algorithms look to return the results the user would most want to see, and utilises data to personalise it as best as it can.

The more accurate and personalised the results page can be, the better a job the search engine is doing. There are a few factors that influence the results you will see:

  • Keywords: the words on your site's pages will have a large effect on what a search engine will turn up. You want them to align well with what people will search for when looking for your school.

For example, if you are a preparatory school in Bath these are likely terms people will search if looking for a prep school in your area. If these keywords did not feature anywhere on the site you are reducing how high you are likely to be rated on a search.

  • Domain authority: A higher "domain authority" will rate higher because a search engine knows that these are more trusted sites.

A good domain authority in essence will be a site that sees a high level of external links (from other trusted sites / platforms) to and from the site. Wikipedia and social media are effective ways to help increase external links to your site.

  • Your location: Search Engines will use location services to determine where in the world you physically are and deliver results that relate. If you search for just "prep schools" the results that come back will likely be prep schools close by.
  • Browsing history: Your browsing history will also impact SERP, and it is often one of the ways that subtle differences begin to come through even when two people search the same term from the same location.

Notable SERP sections

Modern SEO has one important rule: write for the user first and the search engines second. The better the quality of the content, and the more value it gives to the user, the more they will see, use and engage with it. 

Applying best SEO practice to your school website and its content will certainly help improve SERP.

Additionally, here are four SERP features you should know about and take advantage of (note: these all relate primarily to Google as it is the world's largest and most influential search engine).

KNOWLEDGE PANEL / GRAPH

BSN-Knowledge-Panel.png

The Knowledge Panel / Graph is Google's way to provide as much detail as possible without a user needing to go to a website. Through best SEO practice, your site's Knowledge Panel should populate organically.

Looking at the above Knowledge Panel for The British School in the Netherlands, you can see information being fed in from:

  • Google My Business
  • Wikipedia
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

All of this takes time! Don't expect a Facebook account you set up for your school last week to feature just yet. Google won't be rating this channel as a good source just yet. Further down the line however, and with good school website referrals from and to this Facebook channel, then you are more likely to see it feature.

If anything in the Knowledge Panel does not look right, or information is wrong, you can report back to Google to adjust.

FEATURED SNIPPET

WHS-Featured-Snippet.png

Featured Snippets feature at the top of a SERP, and will feed back information directly related to the search term. This can be invaluable for schools that have taken the time to ensure their sitemap and SEO is of a top quality. 

In the example above you can see that a search result for "Wimbledon High School term dates" has returned exactly the information requested.

SITELINKS

Headington-Site-Links.png

As with Featured Snippets, a school website that has quality SEO and site map will likely show Sitelinks in a SERP. These are hyperlinks to a site's subpages;.

Typically, these are based on popularity - term dates may be a highly visited webpage on your site, so this has more likelihood of showing in Sitelinks - but can also change depending on your search term. The above Headington School SERP shows an organic set of Sitelinks.

LIVE TWITTER

JESSDubai-Live-Twitter.png

The final SERP section that is worth noting (and of course can be relatively controlled by the school) is Live Twitter. This SERP feature will pull through real Tweets from the account Google can see is directly linked to your website. Take a look at the JESS Dubai example to see.

This is not limited to Twitter! It is also possible for a SERP to pull through video content from YouTube - which can be seen in The British School in the Netherlands example further up. Understanding your social media presence and how it ties into your website will help dictate this more effectively.

We can help 💪

Not sure what a snippet is still, or how you can feature videos on a SERP? We can help!

We are experts in SEO and the impact it can have on your website. If you would like to discuss what advice and services we offer, please do contact us.

Have you tried Googling your school website recently? What does an "organic" SERP show (try using incognito mode on your browser to make results more organic)? Does this article make you rethink how your website really rates on Google and search engines? We'd love to know - please comment below.