Facebook has been in the news in the last few months, and the company's PR team is probably in overdrive. If you believe the news, then no one under 25 is using it because they are all now using Instagram or Snapchat. We just thought it might be helpful to remind colleges and training providers not to believe the hype fully and to remember that 40 million Facebook users in the UK are over half the population. Facebook remains a fantastic way for colleges and providers to spread their message and engage with learners, employers and parents.
Understanding Status Updates
The first thing to remember is the importance of status updates. A Facebook status is a post that appears for your contacts to read. Whereas before, Facebook statuses were immediately broadcast for everyone, now there are plenty of privacy settings to protect the person by letting them choose who can read their messages. You can also interact through your Facebook status. Followers and other contacts can comment on the Facebook status or simply Like the status. Recently, Facebook has added a tagging feature to Facebook statuses. Put @ in the beginning, and you are allowed to tag as many as 6 people in a post. Friends and contacts that are tagged will be notified in the same way that they are also notified when somebody else or the status owner has replied to a status he commented on.
But why is this important to a college or training provider?
Facebook statuses are what many consider the very essence of Facebook. Here, learners, employers, parents and other interested parties can interact on a particular piece of information casually, which is way more convenient and conversational than email or Twitter actually will.
With Facebook statuses also, almost everyone can join in the conversation (that is, if you want them to), which makes for a casual promotion of your courses, apprenticeship or your organisation. Facebook status is a powerful part of using Facebook for your business. The number of Likes and comments for every Facebook status will help your page climb up in its search engine position.
Facebook statuses can also help you with branding efforts. For your Facebook marketing to be successful, it is important that you monitor your page carefully and that you keep your status posts enthusiastic and professional at the same time.
It is important to optimise Facebook statuses in order to make them more searchable for potential customers. A good feature to use is Facebook status tagging. This is advantageous for colleges and training providers because when you tag affiliated employers in the post, it will also appear on their page. Therefore, expose your organisation to employers looking at a related site. You can also do this with community pages. When you tag a community page, you will gain access to millions of potential customers who may have the same interests as your business.
Facebook Business Basics for Colleges and Training Providers
Some organisations still don't understand the power of digital marketing and rely on their websites, which are sometimes shockingly outdated. The benefit of using a social media platform such as Facebook is that it is more accessible and, to most, more user-friendly than any traditional website will ever be. It gives a sense of friendliness to college or training providers that puts prospects at ease and lends credibility to organisations with no website to speak of.
Aside from this, a Facebook page allows colleges and training providers to interact more with present and potential customers, getting their feedback for everything from course reviews to testimonials. While it may seem scary because you can be given both positive and negative feedback, organisations should not be afraid because, with Facebook, it can be easily moderated.
Furthermore, customers who are tired of traditional online marketing such as email, newsletters and online ads will look to the Facebook page to have their questions answered. Having a Facebook page will give your business access to the 40 million UK and 2 billion worldwide users without even having to buy email addresses like what traditional email marketing resorts to.
Interaction isn't limited to Facebook updates and wall posts, though. You can also use Apps to provide photos, notes and videos. When using a Fanpage, which is the recommended page for businesses (instead of the more personal profile page), you can change fans' posting ability, allowing them to post photos, videos and links to the page. This way, potential customers will be able to see how other customers use the product or service.
Targetting your audience
Through Facebook, you can choose who to target just as easily as through a paid system such as Google Ads. Through Facebook, you can choose the location, interests, relationship status, gender, age and location of your target market. Just consider how you can use Facebook to promote your services to potential learners and employers based on the demographic filters.
When used with Facebook's paid advertising features, demographic data becomes a hugely powerful system. We do, though, encourage people to be careful about just advertising for advertising's sake. It has to be planned, well designed and budgeted. More importantly, it needs to be analysed. Too often, people do not look at the data to see if adverts have succeeded and can end up wasting money.
Using videos to engage your audience
It's no secret that promoting your business through videos online is one of the most effective ways to attract new learners and employers. Videos are effective for many reasons. They retain a certain novelty that websites don't carry anymore. Whether for creative or practical purposes, videos can help publicise your organisation in a positive light. You only have to see how YouTube has turned plenty of struggling artists into overnight sensations to understand the impact of video for business branding.
From a professional standpoint, significance is key when it comes to posting videos. The video and its content will ultimately depend on what purpose you want it to serve and whether it will help your courses, programmes, or organisation to be seen in a positive way in the public eye.
So, before clicking that post button, ask yourself whether the video will help you achieve your goals. Will it generate interest? Will it help customers learn about your courses more effectively? Will it differentiate you from other colleges or training providers? Whatever the goal is, always be sure to validate before posting.
Undoubtedly, YouTube is one of the best places to distribute your videos. But did you know that Facebook is also a fantastic place to share videos on and it's relatively easy to do, especially if you already have your videos on Youtube?
TIP: Short videos are more effective than long ones, especially when paired with Facebook. Even instructional videos have to be short. Keeping the clip down to five minutes or less is a good idea. You don't want to take the chance that your audience may not view it completely if it's too long or too difficult to play.