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What Is Your School's Online Presence Saying to Prospective Students?

Posted by Kate Seat on Feb 11, 2016 9:07:52 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, K-12, Marketing to Students

Imagine that a prospective student wanted to find out more information about your school. Chances are, the first step she would take to learn more would be to do an online search. Would the results cast your institution in a favorable light? If the answer is no, or if there simply isn't much out there to be found, here are a few ways you can enhance your online persona:

What Is Your Online Presence Saying to Prospective Students?

Evaluate your school website

Think of your official website as your online curb appeal. It's often the first interaction a prospective student will have with your school, and may be the only way some visitors will form an initial opinion about what you have to offer.

In fact, it could even mean that the conversation stops there and they cease being a prospect — especially if they don't like what they see, or if they become frustrated by a lack of information.

On the other hand, if you make a good impression, this could be a great first step in securing a future student.

For this reason, it's crucial that you evaluate your site and the experience it provides as if you were a first time visitor.

Some things to consider:

  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Is the layout attractive?
  • Are any images or videos professional quality?
  • Does it communicate your mission clearly?
  • Is it easy to find information about critical topics (like admissions, registration, academics and extracurricular programs)?
  • How visible is your contact information?
  • Do you have testimonials from current or former students?
  • Is there a calendar or list of important dates?
  • Does your site have links to other vital resources, like your online bookstore, LMS or student portal?

If you're just getting started with putting a website together, check out this guide from Education World.

Take stock of social media

Does your school have a Facebook or Pinterest page? What about a Twitter or Instagram account? If you already have these in place, are they being used as effectively as possible?

Facebook and Twitter are both excellent ways to keep your students and families informed and updated about ongoing events. You can communicate schedule changes, emergency notifications and other timely matters almost instantaneously — though you won't be able to guarantee that your followers will always see your post or tweet, so you may want to have a back-up system for especially critical information.

These platforms also make it easy to showcase what's happening at your school, from special events to important games, or as a simple way to honor students, staff or faculty for noteworthy achievements.

Pinterest is ideal for creating individual boards on a variety of subject matters. For example, you could have one board dedicated to visitors to your school, sharing key information about where to stay and local attractions in the area.

Other possibilities for potential boards could include:

  • Classroom, team or project boards
  • Boards devoted to individual subjects or areas of concentration
  • Study tips
  • Information about financial aid or scholarships
  • School apparel or merchandise
  • How-tos (how to write a resume, how to write a term paper)
  • Just for fun boards (like this book-themed one)

Interested in exploring more about how social media can play a role in your school?

How schools can use social media to attract the pupils that they want

The use of social media in schools [Infographic]

4 keys to social media success for higher ed administrators

Ten ways schools are using social media effectively

Social media for schools: a guide to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Consider creating a blog

What are some of the benefits of a blog, whether it's for the school as a whole or for individual teachers or administrators? Much like with your school's website, a blog allows you to impart key information — though in a more informal fashion. It's can also be a great vehicle for sharing stories and viewpoints, distributing helpful content like checklists or other resources and linking out to other useful websites. A blog also provides an opportunity to connect with others in your field, and share insights, research and experiences. 

How to start a blog: the definitive guide

20 education administrator blogs

Why all teachers should blog

Add visual interest

Now it's time for the fun part! While it's important to have all of the right information available on your site and blog, it's just as important to enhance your posts and pages with appealing visual content. After all, 90% of the information transmitted to your brain is visual! 

Even if you don't happen to be overly familiar with creating or editing graphics, this is the perfect time to be starting out. Canva makes it easy to design a variety of graphics from a wide selection of templates, with a simple drag-and-drop setup. Plus, the basic version is completely free!

While Canva may be one of the best tools available for novice designers, there are plenty of others, including some that make video editing easy, provide infographic templates and more. Check these out:

13 tools to turn your visual media into social masterpieces

14 tools to create engaging infographics and images

20 cool tools for creating infographics

Are your school's blog, site or social media accounts already in great shape? Show them off by sharing your links with us on Facebook!

 6 Questions to Ask Before Moving Textbook Management Online

About Kate Seat

Kate Seat is a former copywriter at MBS. When away from work, she’s either creating one-of-a-kind art dolls, reading or watching way too much tv with her husband, daughter and an irritable chinchilla named Klaus.

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