I have always been a fan of LinkedIn. Even back in the days when all it was, was a place to post your CV. I believed in the value of an online professional platform for networking.
When Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016 for USD 26.2b, I was excited. I saw the potential growing rapidly. Unfortunately, it took time. It’s still taking time.
Today, LinkedIn is seen as one of the hottest social media platforms for professionals. Personal profiles are far more powerful than company profiles (“active not passive”), and this is a trend along the lines of personal branding (“people connect with people not logos”) so it is unlikely to change in the short term.
So, is it a platform for school marketing?
I set out to find out, securing three expert sources for advice.
Marketing Advice for Schools
In 2015, Marketing Advice for Schools listed four areas for LinkedIn to be used for school marketing:
- To keep in touch with former students
- To network with and market to parents and local business contacts who ‘don’t do’ other social media
- To help your students create their own online CVs and business relationships
- To help recruit new staff
In 2018, Finalsite published an article on the same topic and listed the following uses of LinkedIn for schools
- Growing your school’s connections across different groups (alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students)
- Building brand awareness for your school or district for faculty recruitment
- Providing an open forum for discussion and conversation with your school community
- Sharing business-related news about your school or district to enhance your brand
- Posting related jobs and opportunities for your school or district to recruit more qualified faculty and staff
Although these seem like great reasons to build a strong presence on LinkedIn as a school, there is a key problem: LinkedIn company pages are simply not high up on the algorithm. So, you will not be seen in the news feeds. And while schools and universities have a different page category to a company page, the visibility is still relatively poor.
However there is a glimmer of hope, and it’s in the form of alumni.
Commercial platforms like Graduway have developed in leaps and bounds in this space, offering multiple benefits for building global alumni networks that are well ahead of anything LinkedIn offers on its free platform. Aspects of user-friendly online measurement, engagement and mentoring come to mind, in addition to targeted fundraising. However, the alumni potential could still be the key to the use of LinkedIn for independent schools and tertiary institutions. I have yet to find a really good case study of this from an independent school.
Top Dog Social Media
Regardless of the current low impact of LinkedIn pages for school marketing, you still should have a page for your school. There are four main reasons for this, as outlined by Top Dog Social Media:
- It looks professional (certainly you should not have a personal page for any organisation)
- The school brand/logo can then be used in the profiles of your alumni and employees, and they can connect to the page
- You will find it contributes to being more visible, to being found. LinkedIn company pages generally rank well on SEO
- You can use LinkedIn advertising if you are targeting professionals, such as high -profile executives, although it may be more expensive than other platforms
But with all this, is it relevant to your target market? Does your marketing strategy include any LinkedIn type of persona? If not, then it’s not a top priority.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that your school should have at least a branded LinkedIn page with links to your school website, even if only as an online directory. You may not see much return as it’s a long game, but it will serve as a professional online source of information on your school.
Then, when (I believe it’s when not if) LinkedIn’s strategy turns towards a bigger focus on the company pages, and part of your target market sees value in the platform, you will be ready!
I'm Keryn House
I enjoy creating marketing anecdotes and visuals related to my horse as there is a lot to be learned from animals, and this provides a unique context to my writing. My horse Slick (aka Sports Express) has been with me for many years and is a source of inspiration and relaxation for my strategic mind. He lives on a friend’s farm in KZN and I see him twice a week.
Follow me on social media by clicking on the buttons below.