Here’s my final installment about the Independent School League and their use of social media.
Let’s compare the different social media platforms and how they are used by the ISL schools. Together, the Facebook pages of the 16 schools have accumulated 17,698 likes. Meanwhile, the LinkedIn groups have acquired 6,152 members and the Twitter feeds have attracted 3,486 followers. This ratio of likes to members to followers varies significantly from school to school, implying that schools prioritize certain platforms over others–and not always the same ones. When I talked to a development officer from Thayer Academy, for example, she said they were currently focusing on their Facebook presence and weren’t on Twitter yet. Meanwhile, Noble and Greenough School is clearly focusing on their LinkedIn presence: they have far more members than any other ISL school LinkedIn group, but they don’t have comparably high likes and followers on the other two platforms.
Facebook’s ostensible dominance here is not surprising: virtually every graduate has a profile, and clicking “like” is a low commitment which doesn’t necessarily mean the “liker” is staying connected by returning to the page very often. That being said, creating great content and keeping your constituents up on what is going on at your school adds high value to your page. Engagement brings authenticity to what you are doing and there is no better endorsement than that for alumni and prospectives.
It’s interesting to compare how schools use Facebook versus the other platforms. St. Paul’s School, for instance, has the highest number of “likes” on Facebook and the second highest number of LinkedIn group members. They are very focused and successful on these two social networks, but haven’t yet established themselves on Twitter. That’s probably next!
The 6,152 LinkedIn members are perhaps more significant than the Facebook “likes.” Most of the groups require permission to join, which can be seen as a hassle. And unlike the Facebook pages, these groups are exclusive to the alumni community and have a more practical application. These groups allow schools to easily create a professional network for their alumni.
(For more information, check out my post on Twitter and the ISL schools)
Schools’ Twitter followers are important because the Twitter platform allows schools to connect to their followers more often and more directly than the other two social networks do. 3,486 Twitter followers are probably a stronger asset than the 17,698 Facebook “likes”. That being said, Twitter and Facebook are different and should be used for different things. Twitter is great for quick, real-time updates, while Facebook is great for those few home run posts a week. Twitter’s 140 characters don’t make it easy to express a message that may be simple to articulate on Facebook. The two platforms compliment each other nicely; schools shouldn’t feel they need to choose between them when they can use both and accomplish more.
The ISL schools are generally quite small: most graduate under a hundred students each year. In total, they probably have around 64,000 alumni (this is a rough estimate based on a general understanding of a number of the school’s alumni bases). Most of these schools have a presence on all three of the social networks, but I would not say there is a clear winner.
What do you think these numbers mean for these schools?
How are these schools putting the word out about their presence on these social networks?
It has been interesting to compare these numbers and put the Independent School League through its social media paces. As the new school year is upon us, I am eager to see how these numbers change and find out what each institution does to increase them. Next summer, I am sure I will be adding Google+ numbers and whatever else evolves over the next year.
Let me know what you think!