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    If you had to choose, who would you expect to be the top influencer of your students’ course choices? Peers, parents, teachers, careers advisors?

    Well, in a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, students ranked their parents as the number one influencing power behind their choice of course. This means you’ve now got a new, powerful, extensive network of key influencers that you can target in the marketing of your College.

    As Kaplan recently found that 65% of teens are “friends” with one or both parents on Facebook, it’s clear that social media is a really effective communication channel between you and parents of current or prospective students. On social sites like Facebook, Colleges can now easily target and engage with parents in their own environment. And rather than just creating a one-way channel, Facebook gives you the ability to have conversations, connect and build relationships and promote the values and achievements of your College.

    Developing a brand presence and opening lines of communication with parents should now be your next strategic move – but how do you reach these decision-makers? We’re working with over 120 FE Colleges on such engagement strategies, so here are our top tips on how to connect and communicate with this influential audience.


    How To Use Social Media To Reach Parents:

    1.  Set up a “parents only” section on your Facebook website with FAQs and an “ask a question” feature. Create a channel of communication that helps to narrow the space between you and the influencers

    2.  Create segmented Facebook pages with editable content tailored to parents and remember to promote this to parents – for example, at your open evenings and events

    3.  Create targeted advertising to parents of students on Facebook – ideally taking the user through to the relevant Facebook landing pages. Have a look at our blog about advertising here

    4.  Dedicate a specific time for parents to ask questions through your Facebook website. This could be guest edited by your Principal, giving parents a direct line to the College leadership

    5.  Consider the same for your Twitter account

    6.  Engage with your students on Facebook – remember that two-thirds are friends with their parents on Facebook and they will see this too!

    7.  Remember that parents are potential customers for your College’s other business services such as restaurants or beauty salons – and make sure they know about them. Read our blog on how to get these visible online here

    8.  Parents are not only interested in their son or daughter’s course; they also want to know that they are having a rounded and positive College experience – so bring your College to life for them. Share your stories about charity partnerships, sports involvements and upcoming student trips and enrichment events. Involve parents fully in your College community

    9.  Prioritise any enquiries or concerns and deal with these as soon as possible on the social channels

    10.  Consider which websites your parent demographic might visit in their spare time (e.g., etc) and target advertising to them on these sites

    11.  Add a QR code to any “parent-specific” print collateral that takes parents to a unique mobile site, with dedicated information and a contact form (you can see how we did this for Warwickshire College by clicking here)

    12.  Focus on data – get contacts for email marketing campaigns via data capture forms to circulate news

    This guide should provide you with the first steps to building solid relationships with your students’ parents. If you’d like to find out more, please give us a call on 01273 734640.

    Steve Evans is founder of Net Natives, the social media marketing and facebook advertising agency

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