Social Media Marketing for Child Care: myths and legends

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Social Media is the answer!

The last several years we’ve witnessed the Social Media Marketing Stampede. Everyone uses Socials, right? Everyone’s an expert, right? So, just doing more fun and easy stuff that you’re anyway doing for yourself – posting a couple of nice pics on Instagram and Facebook – would have the customers lined up down the street in no time!

But, as too many have found out, it’s not as easy as it sounds. We can point to many examples where business owners have gone with employees or others who claim they know Social Media to manage their company’s Social Media and it hasn’t gone well. So the owner has lost time and opportunity and has also acquired an awkward situation with an employee or friend. In case you’re one of those who assigned managing the accounts to one, then another, then a third young colleague, with unclear or inconsistent results – the following paragraphs may be may be all too familiar.

The more the better?

Quick answer: no. Creating as many Social Media profiles as possible does not help your business and develop enrollment. First, your Social Media profile is only helpful if it is active. If you see a Facebook or Twitter profile with few followers and it was last updated a year ago, the message it communicates is far from positive. It’s better not to have a profile than to have an outdated inactive one.

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The advice is: choose selectively a few Social Media platforms for your child care marketing  and commit (or hire someone well qualified and equally committed) to actively develop those platforms with quality daily posts. (Content is a separate subject we will return to another time.)

Do Social Media create revenue?

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Surely, for some types of business, Socials can be a direct sales channel. But child care services is just not something people buy online. Social Media has its role to play but no parent is going to see a photo of your facility or teachers on Instagram and suddenly decide to enroll. The cost of child care services is high plus they will be entrusting you with their child. Before they enroll they first want to see you, your teachers and your center and at that point make their decision.

What does this mean for your child care Social Media marketing? It means that people can learn about your business and gain a positive perception of your methods or facility. Potential clients who have found your child care center can check if you have, for example, a Facebook profile, and get a feel one way or the other. Social Media will rarely bring you actual leads and won’t become your main sales channel. But, vitally, it can direct customers to your website and also provide a more natural, personal and informal way for parents to start to see the real you and how you operate. SM can and should play an important supporting role in your enrollment plans.

Everyone can do Instagram posts

This may be true especially for Gen Z but there is a big difference between posting for yourself and running a successful Social Media business profile that drives potential customers to your website. Social Media use for business means creating a net of traffic sources to wherever your sales pipeline starts – be it through your website, phone or personal visit.

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To set this process up efficiently, you need not only to be able to use Social Media effectively, but also to have marketing and at least some programming skills. Experience and talent in all three fields is not the most frequent combination. That video about making a healthy smoothie on one’s personal profile really is far away from the business world! On the technical side, most Social Media at the moment offer no personal assistance, and, If any slightly more complex action is necessary, the solution would anyway probably call for an experienced SM marketeer.

Last but not Least: respecting children’s privacy (this is not a myth!)

In the child care business there is one major concern: some parents may not want their children’s faces to be posted online. This is their right and a child care provider must do their best to guarantee the parents’ right. If not yet in place, create a system of gathering written consent from parents regarding posting their children’s photos online or in other public spaces. Children whose parents opt out may agree their child can still be posted in group photos if their face is impossible to recognize, is turned away, masked, or blurred.

Conclusion

Social Media is not impossible to manage efficiently from within your child care center, but you need the right person who is both skilled and dedicated to doing it for a considerable amount of time daily. You yourself, or a teacher or even several teachers with no clearly assigned responsibility, posting when they wish and have time to do it, won’t make Social Media an efficient marketing tool for your center. Conversely, with the right attention, Socials can become an important part of the engine of your growth and continued marketing strength thereafter.

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