Social Media Survival Tips for Language Schools (during & post-pandemic)

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We recently did a webinar to IALC members about social media survival tips, and thought it would be great to turn the webinar in an article to share with you.

It is vital now more than ever to be active and engaging online through your social media channels.

You should be connecting with alumni, existing students and most importantly, attracting new students to your brand.

This need is immediate if you are running online courses but is also necessary to stay relevant and to let the world know you are getting ready to open up and welcome students again.

Before we start with some very practical social media survival tips, let’s first understand a few basic concepts.

Quality of Content

In a perfect world we would have large budgets to produce highly polished and stylised content for social channels (high quality images, video, etc.).

However, it is very possible to create and use lots of content to your advantage without spending huge amounts of money.

Your content needs to reach the right audience and achieve your goals. Take a look at this Instagram image from Domino’s Pizza…nothing more than an image of a pizza shot using a mobile phone. Looks nice?

Domino's Pizza Instagram Account

In fact, 90% of the content posted on Domino’s Pizza Instagram account are simple pizza images that could be taken with any simple mobile phone.

Being authentic and not necessarily worrying too much about how ‘professional’ your content looks is the way to go.

We can all think of some homemade content that has gone viral. Anyone who watches TV shows where people end up on their backside at weddings, or pets having accidents, will know that people will watch these even if the quality is very poor.

What’s Stopping You?

One of the most common barriers to effective social activity is in deciding what content is best. Coming up with ideas and deciding on how often to post. 

Social media can be seen as an ‘enemy’ which can take up lots of time and generate poor results, but with some simple ideas and organisation it can be simple.

What should you use to engage online that may not lead to costs that are simply not available at present? It is important to understand that you do not need to invest large sums of money.

Content Planning

If you plan to sit every day and consider what to post, you will end up frustrated a lot of the time and things will start to slip.

You must set up a social media content calendar.

When you create this, think about themes and common topics, for example every Monday you share a local neighbourhood attraction. Simply having it already in your plan will speed things up.

Here are some ideas for you.

9 Content Ideas for your school, college or university social media channels

At times of reduced staffing levels, it can be hard for already busy people to consider content and decide what to publish. The following are ideas that can be used now during the pandemic and also after to refer back to.

Create Tutorials

The top videos watched on YouTube are ‘How to’ videos. You know you can teach your students English, so give tips, phrasal verbs, idioms etc.

Tell students how to improve their English vocabulary.

Promote Culture & Tourism

The International education industry exports culture and tourism and the overall learning ‘experience’.

If you are a school in Devon, UK why not show your audience how to create and how to eat scones and clotted cream?

Scones and Clotted Cream Social Media Post

This type of post can be added to your calendar for the same time each week. 

Promote local businesses, they will often like posts they are included in. Don’t be afraid to use your own images or even stock images.

Celebrate Something

When building your content calendar, the first thing you should do is mark all of the special days you can.

The list is endless on the Internet. Consider all special dates relevant to the education and travel industries.

At the time of writing this article it was apparently ‘National Smile Power Day’, a day for everyone to share the power of a smile. So why not post images of staff and students smiling?

Share UGC (User Generated Content)

This is probably the easiest method as you have to do very little as you simply share what others create. Why not incentivise past/current students to create content about your school/University?

This could be a contest with a small giveaway (not expensive). You will be pleased by the amount of people who will get involved if something is done in an engaging way.

At the present time you could have past students post memories of times in your city, or even what your ex-students are doing now in their home country during lockdown. 

Show you care. People will react.

Interview Someone

Offer to be interviewed yourself. Interview your alumni, your staff, your homestay families etc.

However, also try to think outside the school/University circle. Think about other people you know and how you can connect their expertise to travel and education.

If you know someone who works for an airline or in a local shop you can post about the current situation. Get them to speak about how important international students are and how they can’t wait to see them again.

Social Media Influencers

Influencers with huge followings will expect large payments. However, more targeted and smaller influencers will be willing to work with you so that they can generate more engaging content for themselves while also promoting your brand.

LV Media Hub can source these influencers for you from around the world who will create great content about online courses now or in-school tuition later. LV will also document it with a video created to capture their visit.

Of course, no influencers are moving now but they might take a free online course with you and generate content.

Influencer Tour organized by LV Media Hub, influencers Luca and Katy visit EC Malta

Share Information About Your Local Area

Students should be consistently reminded of the fantastic opportunities that exist in your neighbourhood, all of which you have easy access to.

You are likely to know (or can ask) where your students eat, drink or go to parties? 

Share these as ‘areas of local interest in a weekly post on the same day in your calendar. You can use the same place more than once with a different narrative and images.

If you tag a local restaurant or coffee shop it is almost guaranteed they will like or comment on the post even if you haven’t asked them to.

Show Your Team

Be personal and make the most of your fantastic team. You could simply build a series of posts where you share a little biography of your teachers highlighting their expertise, their achievements or simply who they are.

This is also a typical content that resonates with alumni and which they will usually engage with, which means that their own following will be exposed to your brand content.

Students will almost always like or make a comment on a post they see about their past teacher who they have a personal and emotional link with.

School teachers Social Media Post

Create A Hyperlapse Or Timelapse

Whether you shoot over a long time period from a static filming position or moving with a fixed subject through a specific route over time, both are very easy to create and really engaging online. They can be very short and will be re-usable.

Again…you don’t need Hollywood style productions, just simple videos created with a mobile phone.

Shoot the school in a single day from dawn to nightfall. Shoot a student’s experience on a social activity or having breakfast with their host family. All of these are simple to set up and great content for engagement.

Leverage Past Content

Hopefully you now have some more content ideas but don’t forget to use past content to create new content.

Use the simple rule that if content you have created is ‘Evergreen’… re-use it.

Extract Snippets 

When you review a blog/news article which has been written with an SEO consideration, you will find short sentences that can be reused as social media content.

Just add an image/hashtag (depending on which channel) but importantly link it back to the full article on your website. This is a great way to drive traffic from your social channels to your website.

Share a Post That Worked Well in The Past

There is no reason why you cannot reuse successful posts which will hit a new potential audience.

Think about #TBT or #FBF (Throwback Thursday & Flashback Friday)

Social Media Tools

After a quick search on Wikipedia for how many social media platforms there are, we got to a number of somewhere around 166.

According to Wikipedia this is the list of “major active social networking websites”… so we are sure that there are a lot more out there.

But even if we think about only the most common ones used like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube… it is already hard to manage them…. too many profiles… posting across platforms, managing comments… it can be overwhelming.

So you should use a social media management tool, but there are also too many out there.

Social Media Management Tools

It can be hard to choose. But the important thing here is… if you manage social media platforms for your school/University, even only the common channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter…. you really need a tool to help with management.

Each one of them has something unique that will differ one from another. So do some research and compare them for your specific goals.

For most of the LV Media Hub clients we use Sprout Social… it covers a lot of different social media platforms, has the tools we need and provides great analysis reports.

But if you focus on Instagram a lot then Later could do a very good job for you.

This is the ‘Later’ scheduling calendar… Just from the screenshot you can see how powerful it is… and the sort of features you get that are not available on Instagram. This software can work really well.

If you want to have something more complex, with a built-in CRM, a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy, maybe HubSpot is what you need.

Most of the social media tools will basically help you with 3 main things:

1. Across platform scheduling and posting, which saves a lot of time.

2. Dealing with user engagement… so responding to comments and messages from one single place.

3. Analytics… so how you are doing, tracking your content, comparing different channels and so on.

If you have a specific need but are not sure which to use, let LV know and based on the tools we’ve used in the past we can recommend a specific one for your school/University.

You can also watch the full webinar LV Media Hub delivered to IALC members.

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