Marketing to students has arguably changed more in the last decade than it had in the previous century. For a long time, there were only a few options; schools had to either promote themselves in-person or create printed ads or flyers to post around town or in newspapers. Things started to change a little bit once email caught on, but it wasn't until social media sites like Facebook took off that the revolution really began. And although Facebook remains the most popular platform, it's lead is not what it once was.
A couple of social media sites closing that gap are (you guessed it) Twitter and Instagram. Though they are similarly restrictive in their use and nearly identical in terms of total user base, the two platforms have vastly different capabilities.
Twitter is, at it's core, a micro-blogging platform, meaning it is designed for quick, real-time messages. At this point you're likely familiar with Twitter's 140 character limit for tweets which can seem like a frustratingly small amount of space to get your message across, but brevity is a virtue on Twitter. It forces users to get straight to the point of their message without any of the unnecessary jargon you might find in an email or flyer. This makes Twitter an excellent place to make announcements or give students a friendly reminder for events. So if you have a big upcoming event that you want your students to take advantage of, you can tweet out a short sentence letting them knowing, and include a link to a page on your website that will give them all the information they'll need. Plus, the more things you tweet out, the more followers you'll get. And the more followers you get, the easier it'll be to reach a large amount of people.
Another great way to get in touch with students via Twitter is through hashtags. Hashtags (indicated by a pound sign preceding the word you want to tag, like #this) are everywhere on social media, but Twitter was their birthplace and is the place where they are most commonly used. The goal of any hashtag is simple: get as many people to tweet it out as possible. So let's say you wants to remind students to sell their books back at the end of a term; you can tweet out something encouraging students to send you questions about buyback and end it with a #(SchoolName)Buyback. That way, if students want to ask a question, they'll know to end it with your hashtag. Then, if students see their fellow classmates using that hashtag inspires other to ask questions using it, then the exponential growth of your hashtag has begun.
Hashtags can also have a similar effect on Instagram, but photos, rather than words, are what drives traffic there. With approximately 60 million photos shared between over 75 million users every day, if you post something on Instagram, people are bound to see it. Similar to how typed announcements can be effective on Twitter, photos of your events are the way to go on Instagram. Instead of just announcing an event, you can take pictures and show your students exactly what they'll be able to take advantage of. Instagram is also a great place to put graphics that you create yourselves to get your message across. In fact, studies have shown that customers are much more likely to interact with whatever you're advertising if a photo is included in the message. Obviously, that's a statistic that you'll be able to use to your advantage on Instagram.
That is all to say that if you're not on either Twitter or Instagram, you're likely missing out on a big opportunity to appeal to more of your students than ever before. Each have different purposes and advantages, and setting up just one or the other may leave your school vulnerable in an area that the platform you neglect could have helped. Whether you ultimately choose to adopt one or both is ultimately up to you, but your students are on there, so shouldn't you be too? Even fourth-graders are doing it.