Trends in school social media usage [Free Report]

Social media has become one of the primary communication channels for school marketers.  We all know the advantages of social media:


  • Our parents and prospective parents are using it;
  • It is an extremely trackable advertising approach which allows you to see your effectiveness;
  • It is generally free to use.


However, different schools are seeing different results with social media. Some schools are hitting it out of the park, while others are still struggling to incorporate it into their regular promotional activities.


How is your school doing?


Imageseven and SchneiderB Media recently published their annual report on social media usage by schools which provides a wealth of information on how schools are using these marketing channels. 


You can download the report here and read my key findings below.


Over 370 schools across the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and South Africa responded to this survey.  Independent Private schools were the largest participants at 48% of the respondents; Catholic schools were next at 36%; and the remainder were a mix of International Schools, religious (non-Catholic) and public schools.


Key Findings:


Facebook remains the most preferred social media platform

70% of respondents chose Facebook as their most important social media platform.  This makes sense because Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform and the most used by the parental age group of 30 to 55.  Pew Research reports that 62% of all men and 72% of women who are online use Facebook.  If you only have time for one social media platform, Facebook seems to be a safe bet.


However, more school marketers are beginning to utilize Instagram with 23% of respondents indicating that Instagram is their most preferred platform.  Instagram generally skews younger. 72% of 13-17-year olds use Instagram and 64% of 18-29-year olds.  If you are a high school that is seeking to reach potential students, or if you are a school looking to fill your preschool or kindergarten, you might want to start utilizing Instagram more.


School marketers feel overworked and “time-poor”

This one is probably not surprising to anyone who works in marketing or admissions for a school.  I hope it is comforting to realize that you are not alone. 63% of respondents reported that lack of time is the biggest challenge in their job right now.  And social media seems to be taking up more of their time. Over two-thirds of respondents said that they spend more than 5 hours a week just on social media activities.


This lack of time is forcing more schools to adopt tools and practices to help them be more efficient in their social media.  Forty-four percent report using a social media aggregator and more than half of those report using Hootsuite to automatically schedule posts across platforms.  They are also repurposing their old content with almost 60% agreeing that they repost older content.  


Social media works

This investment in time is paying off.  Nine out of ten respondents agreed that their social media activities have increased exposure for their school and an impressive 48% reported that their social media activities increased their leads.  


Social media, when done right, should appeal to both an internal and an external audience.  Your standard posts on Facebook will not get to people who haven’t liked your page, but if you take advantage of the advertising features on Facebook, it can be very effective.  The schools in this survey are utilizing paid ads with 82% on Facebook and 36% using Instagram ads.  


However, not everyone has leveraged the power of these platforms to advertise.  Sixteen percent of those surveyed reported that they have not used any of the paid features of these platforms.  I think that these folks will begin to change their minds as it continues to become harder to reach potential customers.


Interactive content is becoming the norm

If you are not regularly using video in your social media, you are falling behind your peers.  Nine out of ten schools in this survey regularly use video and a brave 34% have mastered using live video.  


But there is still a wide usage of the “old school” web content.  Forty-two percent of school marketers use a principal or school blog and 45% report that they will increase work on their blogs in the upcoming year.  A blog may not be as interactive as a video but having one on your website can directly impact your ability to be found by search engines. We covered the benefits of blogging in this article.


I would encourage you to read the survey.  You can download it here.  It is always interesting to see what your peers are doing, and how your school compares.  


Social media is a critical tool in the toolbox for all school marketers.  This report offers some great comparative data. It is also critical in helping you to shape what your school social media strategy should look like.  This report gives you a nice insight into how other schools are approaching this medium.


If you have questions about your school social media, please feel free to schedule a call with me!

Lets Chat! Lets Chat!

Nick LeRoy

Nick LeRoy, MBA, is the president of Bright Minds Marketing and former Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board. Bright Minds Marketing provides enrollment and recruitment consulting to private, Catholic and charter schools. For information about how Bright Minds Marketing can help your school improve its’ student enrollment, send an email to or call us at 317-361-5255.

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