This is not a new question. Mashable wrote an article on the best strategy to reach multiple audiences and countless other school marketers have shared their two cents on the issue. We know there are potential downsides to the strategy, but for our team at Proctor, delivering customized content to each constituency remains our primary goal. Therefore, multiple facebook pages is clearly the best option for us.
As Facebook (and other social media outlets) evolved into an obvious tool for reaching constituencies, questions immediately arose about the most effective way to implement the tool. The question over whether to have one branded page for your school, or to have program-specific pages in addition to a main page have not gone away. At Proctor Academy we first hosted an Proctor Academy Alumni Facebook page to engage our alumni. It was successful and has been a great place for ongoing conversations with our alums. Shortly after we added a Proctor Academy Athletics page and a Proctor Academy Parent Association page and ironically just launched a main Proctor Academy page. Some constituents ‘like’ all four pages. Others like only one of the pages. Statistically, the audiences are relatively diverse, which we believe is a good thing and increases our potential ‘reach’ as a school.
Let’s explore a few of the benefits we have experienced by hosting multiple facebook pages for your school, as well as some of the potential pitfalls of the strategy.
1) You are able to provide people with content relevant to them.
Our focus as a school of 360 students is firmly on customizing each student’s experience. Students can spend terms abroad in one of five programs, take over 30 art electives and choose from more than 130 academic courses each term. We believe our social media and communications strategy must be consistent as we want each constituent to be able to customize their communication experience. By providing a number of official school Facebook pages, your audience has some say over the content they are consuming.
2) You avoid oversaturation of content for your audience
One of our main fears of having one main Facebook page was quickly reaching a saturation point with our audience. As with most independent schools, we are fortunate to have much going on at our school during all times of the year. A number of students and faculty blog on a consistent basis, our 30 athletic teams play every Wednesday and Saturday, art shows, cool academic projects, and alumni news constantly flow into our office. To disseminate all of this information on one page would completely saturate a single Facebook channel, turning our page into simple ‘noise’ for our audience rather than providing an opportunity to engage with us.
3) You create an opportunity for conversation
Directly related to the above point, we have found having multiple pages increases the engagement level of each audience. Because the content posted to each page is specific to that audience, the audience is far more likely to engage with each post. It is relevant to them, speaks directly to their interests, and usually impacts their life in some way. When content posted to our alumni page is directly related to alumni in some way, they become engaged in conversations with us. When we post scores and recaps of athletic contests to our athletics page, athletes, parents, and alumni interested in athletics ‘like’ and comment regularly. The goal of social media is to engage in conversation and we have found audience specific pages to be the most effective tool for accomplishing this goal.
Managing multiple pages does not come without challenges, however. We have occasionally run into these pitfalls as our social media strategy has evolved.
1) You begin to value quantity over quality
Nearly every school marketer who has posted on this issue has said the same thing, but we want to reiterate it here: value quality over quantity. Just because you have multiple Facebook pages does not mean you are reaching a wider audience. Each page your school has must be actively managed. Post frequently, but not too frequently. Do the research to see when your audience is most engaged (for us that happens to be in the early evenings). Make sure the content you are posting is directly relevant to your audience because people must find value in what you post, or else they will not come back to read more. Be very intentional with what you post and always value quality over quantity.
2) You fail to optimize content for each audience
Posting the same content in the same way to multiple pages does not mean you are increasing the reach of that content. Instead you are creating annoying social media noise. In order to effectively manage multiple pages, you must consistently work to optimize content for your audience. Think about why people ‘liked’ your page in the first place and feed them content that will keep them engaged. This content does not need to all be school-specific, but must relate to your audience and provide them value. Through social media, you have the opportunity to customize the message sent to each audience of your school, so be sure you treat your audiences as the unique consumers of content they are!
3) You dilute your brand and audience
Some school marketers fear multiple Facebook pages will dilute the branding of a school. This most certainly is a real fear if those managing your page are not very clear how each sub-page represents your school’s overall brand. If each of your Facebook pages communicates your school differently, and even in a conflicting manner at times, your brand will indeed be compromised. Conversely, if your multiple Facebook pages are managed carefully, your brand will actually be strengthened as your audience understands how all facets of your school are interrelated and working toward achieving the same mission.
We don’t have all the answers and can only share what we have learned. For some schools, a single Facebook page may make the most sense. For others who have diverse programs, constituencies, and plenty of content to share, multiple pages are a great solution when properly managed. Share your experiences at your school in the comments section below!