It's a social world out there.

It’s About Being Social

Posted on: August 2, 2009

It is vital for businesses today to keep up with technology. While this has been the case for years, recent changes in online social networking and media have opened doors to businesses of all kinds. Media outlets have evolved so extensively in the last decade that it is crucial for businesses of all shapes and sizes to look at how they tap these outlets to reach their prospective users in the best possible way. Stoneleigh-Burnham School, a non-profit independent school for girls grades 7-12 in Greenfield, Massachusetts could greatly benefit from the implementation of a well thought out social media strategy.

Social Media – The Basics

Social media is a phenomenon that has evolved since the extended adoption of all things online. Society has begun to use the internet for much more than google and billpay, many of use now rely on it for socialization and networking, both personally and professionally. According to Wikipedia:

“Social media is online content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. Social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content; it’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologues (one to many) into dialogues (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal, political and business use. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).” (1)

Social media allows non-profits like Stoneleigh-Burnham School to more easily reach out to prospective students. Site likes Twitter and Facebook allow users to follow and friends organizations, meaning they have a direct and immediate connection to these organizations for news and updates. These outlets the world wide web provides for implementation of social media are easy to employ and, in many case, free of charge. In short, putting in action a social media strategy could provide Stoneleigh-Burnham School with free advertising and direct connections to prospective students.

Who Else is Doing It?

Many non-profits have caught on to the marketing power that lies within social media in recent years. The Internet has given consumers more power than they have ever experienced when it comes to finding the right products, whether it be news shoes or a quality single sex education, such as the one provided at Stoneleigh-Burnham School. This means that Stoneleigh-Burnham School needs to fully adopt and implement a social media strategy to effectively catch the eye of all potential students.

“Some non-profits that have a presence on social networking sites have discovered a new relationship with users. Carie Lewis, the Humane Society’s Internet marketing manager, said she finds herself responding to lots of mundane questions on pet care as a result of maintaining a presence on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr. More important, Lewis said she’s discovered supporters outside the organization’s traditional demographic of women in their 50s._“It was a lot of work, but it really paid off for us,” Lewis said. The Humane Society has raised more than $33,000 on Facebook from users who have set up pages to protest everything from puppy mills to seal clubbing in Namibia. The amount of money raised is small, but convinced Lewis’ bosses that the online efforts have merit.” (2)

Independent school such as Emma Willard, Deerfield Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon and many others have personalized Twitter profiles with many followers, this trends follows into their Youtube and Facebook accounts. Taking the time to put together a well-thought out strategy and keep the social media outlets up-to-date is vital for an independent school like Stoneleigh-Burnham.

Get Going

While Stoneleigh-Burnham School has active account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, they have no fully tapped the power that is held in many other social media outlets. The School is currently concentrating on the use of social networking sites. In doing so, they are missing out on much of what social media outlets can do for them.

It is important that they get a blog going, and by going I mean putting together a blog, likely through the admissions department that provides regular updates on the ‘day-to-day’ at Stoneleigh-Burnham School. This should unclude pictures, videos and testimonials from current students. Hosted by a site outside of the http://www.sbschool.org website, the blog will have a broad audience, it is of course vital to market this blog through the current website as well as through word of mouth by current constituencies. The head of school currently has a blog which is, of course, a great concept. It is important to incorporate this with a blog that involved more day-to-day from the eyes of Stoneleigh-Burnham girls, rather than highlighting only thoughts from the Head of School, which alone could be somewhat intimidating.

After forming a blog, The School should consider the use of Podcasts. Podcasts could provide an opportunity for students to speak out on issues both inside and outsides Stoneleigh-Burnham walls. These could take the form of student projects, alumnae highlights or communication vehicles from The School’s marketing department. Podcasts can be complimentary to The School’s print publications and web efforts. They can also provide a way to archive and revisit oral history for The School, being that it is a school with tenure, finding a way to archive such things is important.

The use of widgets on the sbschool.org website would also provide well in linking to blogs, podcasts and highlight the social networking tools The School is employing. The combination of a blog, podcast, widgets and the continued use of the social networking sites will provide Stoneleigh-Burnham School with what they need in the social media arena.

What Will This Bring?

Further use of the social networking sites will provide more followers and friends, leading interested parties to the Stoneleigh-Burnham School website and allowing for increased inquiries. This partnered with a blog will allow for comments from prospective, current and past students. Commenting on the blog will open doors for what The School should hope is positive conversation about the offerings of Stoneleigh-Burnham. Adding podcasts and widgets will further link all the aspects of the social media strategy, combining the social networking with The School’s website, providing the perfect offering to prospective students. This strategy will also provide current students, faculty and alumnae the opportunity to stay up-to-date with what is happening at Stoneleigh-Burnham School.

Sources:

Social Media,In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 2, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarismhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media

Wong, Wailin (2009, April 20). How non-profits are using social networking to raise money and awareness Charities see potential in tapping young Web users to promote their causesonline. Retrieved August 2, 2009, from Chicago Tribune Web site: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2008/apr/30/business/chi-wed-nonprofit-networks-apr30

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