Let’s talk about Facebook.

Up until 2013, times were good. As a school, you could wield Facebook as an exacting tool to reach incoming students, group them together and create a real sense of connection as a yield driver.

In April 2014, Facebook’s algorithm shifted so that pages for schools and businesses lost a good deal of voice. Even for people who’d actively liked your page, suddenly only 1.6% of them were seeing your carefully-crafted content reach their newsfeeds.

Then January 2015 hit and the 1.6% of people we still had access to dropped even lower. Facebook decided to decrease the reach for “overly promotional posts” – ones pushing towards a promotion, re-using content or stating any kind of call-to-action.

Right about here, we all started wondering if Facebook was even worth the trouble. “Are kids still on this?” “Does it matter if we post or not?” Good questions that were, at the time, hard to answer. No one was exactly doing a study of high school social media habits on rapid-refresh.

Until the spring of 2016, when the Pew Research Center gave us just the info we needed. And the answer was a resounding YES. A whopping 56% of high school kids were active on Facebook, while only 19% were on Instagram. For the transfer and grad audience of those 18-29, 88% of them were Facebook regulars. And since this study, numbers are up 17% with this group and the level of engagement on Facebook trumps the regular access teens are making with other social media platforms. Pew’s most recent study, published earlier this month, cited Facebook remains the most widely used social media platform. Even with SnapChat on the rise, Facebook has managed to remain relevant. Teens are proving active across new social media platforms without disregarding their loyalty to Facebook. In fact, they are statistically the most resistant to give up any of their social media accounts. Here are some current numbers:

  • 60% of students will visit you on Facebook before visiting your campus
  • 80% of families are more inclined to consider your school if they find a credible page associated with your institution
  • 62% of students say Facebook is the most important and useful social media channel for research

Knowing Facebook is still worth our effort, however arduous, has caused many of our client partners to build highly customized strategic plans, hire social media managers and make the most of Facebook pages and groups. Now (brace yourself) Facebook is changing again. Zuckerberg claims this change is the largest to date. In his words, As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses … And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Instead of having one newsfeed, Facebook is rolling out a new algorithm with double the newsfeeds, double the fun. Most of the fun will be happening on the first newsfeed *cough* the real newsfeed. The first newsfeed is where posts of friends and family show up. It’s also the place for paid ads for businesses and schools. The second newsfeed, the red-haired stepsister newsfeed, is for non-paid posting by businesses and schools. People will have to hunt for the second newsfeed and go there on purpose to see anything you post. And if they go there, Facebook will put a wart filter on their profile picture. Not really, but that’s how it feels.

So there are three options:

Pros and Cons

The metrics prove that using Facebook should still be a key piece in your school’s marketing strategy. And honestly, it is a piece. We at The Parish Group are big believers in a holistic marketing strategy, communicating effectively with students and parents where they are. While the days of free social media press are just about up, we have some fantastic analytics and targeting on our side with this platform! Let us know how we can be your partner in this next big change, either today or as soon as you get back from that vacay we just prompted.

Cheers,

Candace