A digital marketing strategy has a lot of moving parts, a quality website, search engine optimization, social proof, reputation management, etc. But the one thing that is universal is quality content. Search rankings rely on it, social media relies on it…even your reputation relies on it.
The Kreative Webworks team has developed a program specifically to help Charter Schools increase their student enrolment, and as part of that we advocate blogging as a way for our clients to build a sense of community among parents, students and teachers. Oh… and search engines. Yes search engines love quality…current content, and blogging is one of the avenues where schools can help themselves.
Why should Charter Schools blog?
It’s just good public relations and good branding. Parents who are researching the right school for their child have an opportunity to get a feel for the schools culture, values and activities. In effect, build a comfort level with the school before they even engage a councilor to explore admissions.
Likewise, parents of current students are likely to enjoy staying up to date with school activities along with an increased familiarity and satisfaction with the faculty. Both of course are retention factors. It’s just a great way to keep motivated parents informed, and well…motivated.
Increased Web Presence:
Word of mouth is incredibly effective, but you can’t rely on word of mouth to get in front of parents at the exact moment they are searching for alternative education for their child. That’s why it’s so important to constantly be running an inbound marketing campaign. And yes, your Charter School MUST show up in the search results for keywords like “charter schools (insert your location here)” or “at home schooling” or “online high school” as a major objective of your inbound marketing strategy.
Blogging is not the end-all to a robust web presence, but it is a contributing factor. Search engines look for a constant stream of quality content, and a blog is an effective means of facilitating that content and augmenting your overall online marketing efforts.
How you blog is as important as how much you blog.
You want people to actually read it, share it and comment on it. The more attention it gets, the more the search engines take notice and have reason to rank your blog article on the search results pages and get in front of more parents who are considering a Charter School education for their child.
Some Blogging Basics:
- One idea per post: If you find yourself straying off topic, congratulations… you just figured out your next blog post.
- Word Count: How much is the right amount of copy? The answer is not one more word than is necessary…not one word less than is necessary. Job number one is to engage your readers. Close behind that is drawing the attention of Google and the other search engines. We generally recommend 300-600 words, but if a deeper topic warrants more coverage, don’t sell yourself short. Search engines have recently started to favor longer posts.
- Sexy Title: Or at least interesting or relevant. Keep it appropriate for the audience, but make it unique and interesting enough to stand out. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a keyword or two…but not at the expense of the integrity of the title.
- Images: Find a great image that compliments the article. This is vital for sharing on Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, etc. Be careful about using licensed images, the financial penalties are over the top now, and many of the larger stock photo companies are actively using image recognition software to patrol the Internet and extract huge fines from them. When necessary we supply fully licensed images for our clients as part of our school marketing packages.
Many Hands make Light Work:
Yes, blogging can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for any one individual. Here’s a few strategies to spread out the work to lighten the load:
- If every instructor and administrator were assigned just one article to write per month, there would be an abundance of quality content publish on a regular basis. After all… why should they be the only ones handing out homework?
- What about a “Kids Corner” where you let motivated students take a whirl? Or it could be part of an assignment where the best of the best get published.
- It can be a team sport. If you aren’t going with an “all hands on deck” strategy where everyone blogs, perhaps assembling a team of motivated staff to handle the writing is a way to share the load. You might consider rotating the staff in and out so everyone gets a chance to write. That will also help to keep it fresh.
- Hire a ghost writer or third party. We often write many of our client’s blogs on a regular basis. In some cases we augment their contributions, in other cases we do all the writing. Keep in mind, that you will probably lose a little of the personality when a third party takes charge. That’s why we recommend a hybrid strategy where our copywriters share the load with the school’s authors.
What to blog about?
There really is no limit to the topics of interest. Think of your audience; existing parents and students would probably like to stay up to date with happenings regarding the school. That might include anything from preparing for finals, to preparing for that field trip. Perspective parents might like to know more about student life, or the school’s learning philosophy. Students might like to see what their classmates are writing…which might also be especially appealing to perspective parents.
Speaking of parents, how many of them might want to do an occasional guest post? They could write about their careers, and how their education enabled them to achieve their aspirations. Or perhaps a tech-savvy parent might write about learning software they have tested.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one blog category. For example, you could have one blog entitled “Home Room” and another entitled “Kids Corner” and a third one called “In the News” and yet one more entitled “Play Ground”.
Promoting Your Blog:
The typical strategy that we use for our Charter School clients consists of a coordinated effort and repeatable steps.
- In the blog article, we hyperlink to other blog articles on the website or perhaps relevant pages to the blog topic.
- We write a “Teaser” which is no more than an interesting and VERY short paragraph to pique the interest of parents, perspective parents, students and teachers who are following our school clients on Social media such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. This teaser links directly back to the specific blog article. This not only drives direct traffic to the article, it signals the search engines that something of interest is happening on your website (that’s a good thing).
- We schedule these teasers to go out simultaneously on all of our client’s social channels.
- We encourage everyone to “Share” the articles with their circle of influence.
There are many facets to a comprehensive inbound digital marketing strategy for Charter schools, private schools, of any industry for that matter. Blogging is just one tool in your online marketing toolbox, but it is something that your school can have a great deal of control over and actually help move the needle and fill up those classrooms.
Charter School Marketing is a program developed by the team at Kreative Webworks specifically to help schools get more visibility in their authorized areas and enroll more students.