Better use of social media for marketing
The use of social media for marketing childcare is an essential part of an overall marketing strategy and one which is preferable for the parents who access your services. …. The question is how effective is it for your setting?
Childcare providers like many other businesses use social media to varying degrees with wide ranging success levels and many different approaches. Whilst there is no one right way to develop a social media strategy, there are some key things that will impact on the likely success rates of your online efforts in terms of increased place take up and sales incomes.
We know for some the use of social media is not a personal preference, but when viewed as a useful business tool that your target market, (i.e. young parents), are using extensively, it’s worth reviewing your stance on the use of social media and providing information in a way they expect and are well acquainted with.
What are your aims?
In our recent article on marketing we listed social media approaches as being one of the most important marketing steps you can take. When you consider what your aims are it is easy to see how social media can become a powerful tool in your marketing plans and take you closer to your goals.
Your aims are many in business, but here are just 3 aims of your marketing efforts that social media can easily support you with.
1. To promote your childcare business to maximise take up of places.
2. To share great things your setting does.
3. To build a community of current and future customers.
1. You only have to look on social media platforms for a few minutes to witness the power it offers in terms of promotional opportunities and the variety of ways parents could see your messages.
2. Obviously you want to share great things that your setting does, and to that end you can write as much content about your setting as you like and get it directly to your audience within seconds and for free!
3. It’s important that any marketing you do appeals to the right people and their demographic profiles and you want them to be part of your community to which you are reaching out. The important thing to note here is that you should not overlook your future customers by only putting content on social media that appeals directly to existing customers. It might seem an obvious statement so let’s explore that a little more.
A community approach is an understanding of the people you would like to be part of your business community and engaging them with your marketing messages alongside useful and interesting information that is relevant to the world of childcare. Your community is the sum of all organisations and people who are stakeholders in the childcare market and the 3 important categories of people within it to help you engage and broaden your appeal are, past customers, existing customers and future customers.
If the majority of your marketing messages, images and content were only of direct interest to existing customers, then potential future customers may not feel engaged and may pass you by. For example just posting or commenting on current childcare activities will be of interest to existing parents because their children are involved, so messages to potential new parents may need to be more inclusive or portrayed in such a way to help them easily visualise their own children in your setting and know what to expect, which may not be obvious if they haven’t used childcare before.
Equally, new parents may start to look for childcare very soon after, or even before birth, so be aware that they have a journey to take and your social media posts and articles can help them relate to where they are now and see the key steps in their journey ahead into a childcare place at whatever age they choose. In short, put out good quality content that is relevant to them now and keeps their interest until they move forward into a childcare place.
Recent past customers also have an important role to play in your social media presence as they are ideal for testimonials and have longer term experience of your setting from a parental perspective which provides valuable feedback for those new parents considering using your services.
In summary, a community approach that provides insights, information and engaging content for all stakeholders and customers can maximise the value of your social media activity and help encourage a feeling of belonging in the community you develop.
The point about social media is that if you want someone to use their valuable time to regularly read or catch up with your business, it has to capture their attention and be interesting! It’s a two way conversation whereby you put out posts and people respond to them with likes and comments and enter the on-going dialogue with yourselves and other parents to further their interest, knowledge and enjoyment of being part of child’s nursery life.
Here’s a few ideas for useful content:
Your key selling points – Tell people what makes your setting special.
Showcase any new initiatives you are taking as a business.
Special promotions – Boost your intake with special offers.
Run competitions to engage existing and new customers and reach wider family members and friends.
Start positive conversations to help stakeholders understand your position on key issues and share facts about changing childcare market activity and how you are adapting.
Share examples of best practice and your excellent team.
Show operational activities - What children are learning and experiencing.
Share your knowledge about childcare policy – help parents understand the free entitlements, application processes or general Government policy on childcare related issues.
Share your plans for the future – How you are developing the business.
…. The list is endless!
Frequency, consistency and quality
To use social media effectively it’s worth considering what the frequency of your posts and content should be to best suit your audience. There are lots of articles online around this subject with varying suggestions, so try to put yourself in your stakeholder’s shoes and consider what might work for them. Think on a personal level, would you be happy to read 1 post a day, or 3 posts a week from your child’s nursery? Alternatively if you only see 1 post a month is that enough? the balance can be difficult to find and may need some trial and error.
Frequency also relates to the nature of your business and to the quality of your content. It is better to have fewer posts and high quality content, than lots of content with no substance, relevance or interest for those reading it, so keep high quality content quality as a priority.
Like many things in life consistency is key to success and this is no different. Therefore, if you want your community to really feel they are up to date with your latest news, information or offers, it has to be a consistent activity to allow people to get into habits of reading and expecting your posts. Intermittent posting does not encourage high engagement levels so set your posting frequency and stick to it.
Need help getting started?
If you are already using your social media to good effect, it would be interesting to hear any of your feedback or tips so we can share with others, so feel free to send it to us!
For those of you who are using social media a little or haven’t really got started yet, please do contact us if you would like some help building and communicating to your online community.