The research is clear: people who set goals are more successful than those who don’t. Setting goals helps us to better understand the problems we’re trying to solve, provide direction, and most importantly, keep us focused on achieving a particular outcome. It can be easy for schools marketing teams to spend too much time generating content and miss the crucial step of strategic planning. 

Your school’s social media presence is about so much more than just posting nice images. It plays an essential role in your school's digital marketing strategy to drive key marketing and business objectives. And yet, many school marketers struggle to demonstrate how social media improves the bottom line; often because they haven’t set (and are therefore not measuring) goals for their social media strategy.

In this post, we’re going to take you through the steps to set specific and measurable goals for your school’s social media presence.

Define your objectives

To set specific and measurable social media goals, you first need to look at the big picture and define what your overarching goal is. You should be able to derive this from your school’s digital marketing plan, but here are a couple of marketing objectives most schools look to tackle through social media:

  • Generate new enrolment leads
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive website traffic
  • Grow community engagement
  • Increase customer support

Once you know which objectives you’re going to focus on, it’s time to choose the right social media platforms. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend completing a social media audit to understand which platforms are currently working for your school. Traditional social platforms that we see schools use well include Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you find in your audit that you’re currently receiving minimal attention on Twitter, but your Facebook page is buzzing with engagement from your school community, it makes sense to focus your efforts there. 

There are also platforms you may not have considered yet, such as TikTok and LinkedIn, that have taken the social media world by storm. Tik Tok has skyrocketed in popularity amongst young people, but it may not necessarily be the right platform for your school’s content. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a platform with a professional tone that can be particularly useful at engaging staff, parents and alumni. Before investing too much time and budget, it’s important to do your research to see if these platforms can help you reach your marketing goals.

Focus on what really matters!

When it comes to measuring social media success, it’s easy to get caught up with vanity metrics — such as the number of ‘likes’ a post receives. Sure, everyone loves to see those likes rolling in, but at the end of the day, they are passive actions that contribute very little to your bottom line.

We’re not saying you should completely disregard these metrics but rather dig a little deeper and focus on more valuable metrics when defining your goals. These may include; follower growth, post engagement (comments and shares), post and profile reach, and ROI for advertising or other costs. Determining what you want to achieve and how you plan on measuring that will ensure that you stay consistent and focused on your goals.

Get specific about what success means

By now, you’ve defined your key marketing objectives and have a richer understanding of which social media platforms will help you succeed — so how do you reach your goal? Well, let’s ask this- would you expect to lace up your sneakers and be able to run a marathon tomorrow?

Unless you’re superhuman, probably not. Completing a marathon takes months of training, with many smaller milestones along the way to help you achieve your goal. Reaching social media goals is no different — it’s all about playing the long game! 

Use the SMART goal framework

You may already be familiar with the SMART goal framework, but if you need a quick refresher, the framework is designed to help clarify your ideas and focus your efforts to make better use of your time and resources to reach a particular goal. The acronym stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Here are some examples of SMART goals, based on the general objectives we prepared earlier:

  • Generate new leads: Increase open day registrations by 15% via Facebook Ads promotion by 10 July 2022.
  • Increase brand awareness: Gain 300 new LinkedIn followers by 20 October 2022.
  • Drive website traffic: Grow social media website traffic referral by 25% by 30 November 2022 (just make sure you have Google Analytics set up so that you can track website traffic).
  • Grow community engagement: Receive a 25% increase in average views for all Youtube videos by 1 December 2022.
  • Increase customer support: Decrease the average first reply time on social media from 10 hours to 5 hours by 15 July 2022.

Tracking your goals

It’s important to regularly track your goals for your social media strategy. You can do this by assigning a member of your school staff to do a monthly report across your social media platforms, where they record the data and assess the performance to see if you are on track to achieve your current goals. This doesn’t need to be overly complicated the reporting can be done in a simple spreadsheet, with metrics in one column and the monthly performance in another. 

Alternatively, you could use social media analysis tools such as Sprout Social or Google Analytics. This will give you a clear snapshot of what’s working and what’s not. If there’s a specific platform that isn't performing well then you can consider adjustments, such as the type of content, or the time your posts are going live on the platform.

Review and refresh 

Setting goals for your social media presence is an essential part of your school’s digital marketing strategy and the key to demonstrating its value. But it is not a set-and-forget type of task. Just as you are regularly checking in with your success metrics, you should schedule a 6-month review of all your social media objectives to ensure they align with your school’s overall marketing strategies and vision.

To help you execute your social media strategy to perfection, check out our guide to creating a social media calendar for your school

Published 5 October 2021