How to combine Word of Mouth with Facebook to increase enrollment

Word of mouth is by far the most common answer when asking a school leader where they are getting their new students.

By far.

It’s very powerful indeed. Parents trust parents. Parents don’t trust sales-y clickbait messages from strangers.

We often associate social media ads with something distasteful. We think of those annoying “Buy Now” buttons that flick and flick, distracting us as we are trying to read an article.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Have you seen how friends talk on Facebook? It’s similar to the chatter in a coffee shop or the laughter in the mall.

Just imagine.

What if we could amplify word of mouth using Facebook? Fuel the chatter, in what we call “digital word of mouth”. What would happen then?
Digital word of mouth = when we give parents something great to chat about online!

You can now apply all the techniques you are using offline in Facebook’s online community. This will get the word out and boost enrollment like never before.

Schools should be using the “digital word of mouth” technique daily to take advantage of Facebook’s immense community reach.

In this article, I am going to walk you through our tips to trigger digital word of mouth.

Shout it out: Digital word of mouth as a marketing strategy.

Let’s take stock of what we already know: word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing techniques out there. After all, 9 out of 10 18-34 year-olds seek recommendations from friends and family before making a big purchase.

That’s a Return on Investment you can’t ignore.

You know this; you’ve seen it in your school.

A family, invested in their child’s education, tells another family about the opportunities, activities, and even college preparation provided by your school. Suddenly you have a new prospective family calling for a tour.

It’s amazing when that happens. But does it happen often enough?

Many school leaders tell us that their families love talking about them. But they are only a few hundred families. How many referrals can they generate? And how often? There are thousands of families out there that would benefit from knowing about your school.

Are your efforts reaching as many people as possible? You work tirelessly to “get the word out” and wait for new student applications. But the explosion in enrollment never arrives. Are you left empty-handed and disappointed?

Enter Facebook:

There is a way to use word of mouth in an online marketplace which has over 2 billion customers!

Why Facebook?

Here are some statistics to think about:
There are few channels that can currently reach over a billion people worldwide. When looking for a community with such a wide scope, no other social media tool comes close.

Parents are 1.6x more engaged than non-parents on Facebook.

56% of parents are on Facebook before 7 am. And they go on 7 times a day, on average.

Last but not least, Facebook’s image and video formats allow for emotional storytelling. Choosing a school, or spreading the word about a school is an emotional decision.

Remove the unpredictability of word-of-mouth marketing by using Facebook.

Still not convinced?

Facebook’s structure aligns perfectly with the 3 E’s of social marketing:

  • Engage – Engage a wide audience by creating a trustworthy and reliable brand, one that is dedicated to your Ideal Parent Persona’s priorities.

  • Enable – Under the right conditions, your current families and interested learners will want the chance to spread the word about your school. Enabling them with online tools and strategies will help to turn anonymous content into a reliable recommendation.

  • Evaluate – Facebook allows marketers to test marketing campaigns in real time. You have immediate feedback at your fingertips that you can use to shift, pivot, expand, or adapt.

5 Ways to Apply Word of Mouth Marketing Techniques on Facebook.

1. Incentivize what parents already do.

Most likely, you have parents sharing content online through Facebook posts and events. Tap into this resource even further by incentivizing their “advertising”.

When parents share an image, a link to an upcoming event, or even a blog post written by a teacher, let them know you saw their contribution. Comment underneath their post to acknowledge their contribution and make it visible to their network and yours.

Then provide tangible incentives for their participation.

Incentives at the student level:

  • Homework Passes
  • Dress Down Day Coupons
  • Tickets to the School’s Football Game

Incentives at the parent level:

  • Gift Card Raffles
  • Public Recognition
  • Twitter “Shout Outs!”

Offer rewards to families who share the content within their digital communities. This content, like School Newsletters or Board Meeting Notes, helps to build your school’s brand.

2. Create Facebook Messenger Groups.

Families want the chance to get the word out about your school but may not know how. Using Facebook’s built-in Messenger app. you can reach out to new families and prospective students.

Set up a wide variety of Messenger groups and encourage families to invite their friends. These groups can be for all sorts of topics:

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Academic Support
  • School Volunteering Opportunities
  • Event Organization and Preparation
  • Athletic Event Participation

Families spread the word about your school’s dedication to student success. New families want more information.

Your school wins.

3. Get 10 times more referrals through Facebook groups.

Facebook Groups are an essential tool for building word of mouth marketing techniques through Facebook. Schools usually control the content and encourage posting materials which show off your best side.

But what else can they do?

Facebook groups can build immense visibility. Put families in charge of controlling the content, including pictures, posts, and event reminders. You automatically encourage the multiplier effectof communication.

Families love sharing pictures and memories from school events. Smiling faces encourage smiling faces. Build word of mouth marketing through posting memories made with the school community.

4. Use Facebook events to spread the word.

There are dozens of event invite applications and calendar reminder hacks out there. These can spread families in too many directions. They often ignore the most important recommendation of any public invitation:

Bring friends.

Allow guests to invite friends to school events like Curriculum Nights and Open Houses through Facebook. This spreads your message on a massive scale. Plus, it’s cheaper and more effective than paper fliers.

Facebook events are streamlined and consistent. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Create an event page for your Open House.
  2. Incentivize and encourage families to invite members of their network.
  3. Spread your value via word of mouth.

5. Post school reviews on your Facebook page.

It’s difficult to get and use authentic feedback. If you’re looking for some creative strategies, check out our blog post on ways administrators can actively listen to their school’s families.

But what’s the next step? How can you capitalize on these rave reviews?

Let the parents share all the reasons why your school is the top choice.

Use your school’s public Facebook page as a landing space for parent and student reviews. Invite families to review your school by creating an event entitled

“Show us your love: Explain how we add value to your life in one sentence.”

Wrap it all up.

These kinds of actions make word of mouth marketing and individual recommendations predictable. Follow our guidelines, and invigorate your marketing techniques with hope.

And reliability.

Then use word of mouth marketing to build your school’s brand and expand enrollment.

The possibilities are endless.