Social media has become a platform for people to share their thoughts and opinions, especially when it comes to brands, and this is no exception for schools. The insights you can gather about prospective families and competitor schools through social media monitoring is invaluable for schools. For example, you can utilise the data to track advertising impact, identify potential school ambassadors, improve customer service, and more.

In this article, we discuss 16 ways to use social media monitoring to listen and engage with your audience on social media.

Is there a difference between social monitoring and social listening?

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting the difference between social media monitoring and social listening.

Social media monitoring essentially refers to the tools/ technologies used to collect and notify you about what you’re tracking. On the other hand, social listening refers to how you interpret and respond to the data. You are investigating what’s being said about your brand during online conversations to learn, explore and question insights to be more informed.

For example, our school social media dashboard can notify you whenever you are mentioned online (social monitoring) and then take action with a quick response (social listening).

What are the benefits of social listening?

Social listening is more than just tracking your brand on social media. What you decide to monitor, whether it be what competitors are doing, the buzz surrounding an upcoming event you’re attending, or simply what’s being said about the school, depends on your goals and the data you are looking to capture and action.

With the correct tools, you can use social listening throughout the school to gather feedback, collect queries, identify opportunities, shaping social media strategies and much more.

Now let’s see how you can use social media monitoring and listen to your advantage.

16 Ways to listen and engage

Here are 16 ways to monitor and listen to customers on social media, covering the following:

  • How to find relevant school mentions
  • How to respond to positive and negative mentions
  • How to find industry-relevant content

Finding relevant school mentions

By using social media monitoring to track only mentions of the school name, you’re missing out on golden opportunities to interact with prospective parents. Here are a few ways you can extend your search.

1. Monitor without the @ symbol

When mentioning brands on Twitter, users can often forget to tag profiles by using the @ symbol. When setting up a keyword monitor on a social media monitoring tool, ensure you are checking for mentions with and without the @ symbol. For example ‘Joe Bloggs and ‘@JoeBloggs’.

2. Check for misspellings

It’s so easy to mistype words, especially with auto-correct! You should be monitoring for misspellings and add these to your social media monitoring tool. For example ‘Flickr’ (correct) and ‘Flicker’ (incorrect).

3. Monitor your domain

This is similar to misspellings in the sense the way your domain is mentioned, with or without www. for example. It’s definitely worth monitoring for both variations. You may also want to check for the suffix too, i.e. ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’ etc. This is especially beneficial as by force of habit many may include ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’ for a school without knowing your site ends in ‘.org’ or ‘.org.uk’.

4. Check for names of well-known members of the school

Within schools, many headteachers are regarded as ‘thought-leaders’. It’s worth monitoring mentions of them to see how your audience and others interpret their views?

5. Track mentions of specific hashtags

It’s become common for schools to have hashtags specific to the school name, for parents and the wider community to engage with and use themselves. Monitoring these hashtags can pull through mentions of other users facilitating these hashtags within their own posts. A social media monitoring tool is able to pull through these mentions, where you can engage further with these users. This also works particularly well if you have a catchphrase or slogan associated with your schools brand.

How to respond to positive and negative mentions

Although we’d like to think all our mentions are positive, there can be times schools can encounter negative mentions. Use a social media monitoring tool to engage with people and provide a complete customer experience based on the sentiment of their feedback.

6. Reward positive mentions

Pull mentions for ‘your school’s name’ plus ‘love’ or ‘great’ or ‘fantastic’ to find positive mentions. For example, ‘Shareable+love’ or ‘Shareable+great’. You can use the smiling face ‘:)’ or ‘:-)’ to generate returns.

7. Turn a negative into a positive

Likewise, you should monitor for negative mentions with words such as ‘poor’ or ‘bad’. Sad face emoticons ‘:(‘ or ‘:-(‘ will also pull through. Social media monitoring tools can also pull through mentions with punctuation symbols such as ‘?’ and ‘!’. Tip: remember to separate these when searching i.e. ‘Shareable !’.

8. Make a list of responses

When monitoring, it can be useful to have an agreed course of action in response to certain types of interactions, to avoid any PR mishaps. For example:

  • Thank you for your feedback, it’s much appreciated!
  • Thank you for attending our open day, let us know your thoughts.

Generate Leads

Social media monitoring and listening are excellent ways to create new leads for your school. Take a look at these methods.

9. Monitor for searches

Social media has become an avenue for users to ask fellow friends and followers for recommendations. It has been identified that 1 in 3 people on Facebook uses the platform to search for recommendations and reviews. Add qualifying words such as ‘anyone’, ‘recommend’, ‘suggest’ to school searches to see if there are people searching for schools. “Can anyone recommend an independent school in Essex?”

10. Monitor competitors and their customers

It’s good practice to monitor your competitors to see what they’re doing and how they’re performing. Social media monitoring allows you to see what sort of posts your competitors are generating and the level of engagement they are generating. It’s also worth monitoring competitors to see if they do anything differently that could be adapted to your social media strategy.

11. Monitor locations

It’s highly valuable for independent schools to monitor for mentions of where they are based alongside the school’s name. For example, an independent day and boarding school might monitor for ‘boarding school + Hertfordshire’. Jump on potential leads or even engage with events in the local area.

12. Discover social influencers

Find social influencers and thought leaders by monitoring for relevant industry keywords and phrases. As you analyse these results, you’ll notice recurring names of those that talk widely about the industry and its various topics, and these generate a lot of comments and shares.

Connect with them and start to build a relationship, and maybe they’ll mention your school on their social profiles.

Finding Industry Relevant Content

You can use a social media monitoring tool to discover content related to the independent school industry. Sharing and curating industry-relevant content helps to position and strengthen your school’s presence.

13. Monitor key phrases and words that describe the industry

For example, a school may monitor for the keyword ‘independent schools’, but develop this further with phrases like ‘independent boarding schools’ or ‘independent day schools’.

14. Monitor key phrases and words that are relevant to the industry

Other keywords/ phrases such as STEM Education, Forest School or mental wellbeing for example. Or, if you’re stuck, use the Google Suggest Tool to obtain related keywords and phrases.

15. Monitor for frequently used industry hashtags

Tools such as Hashtagify can find the most popular hashtags for the independent school’s sector. For example, using #independentschool produced the following results:

Another way to find the best hashtags is to check what influencers are using, i.e other headteachers.

16. Find shareable content

Add specific terms like ‘infographic’ or ‘case study’ to your keyword searches to find shareable content to curate and share with your audience. For example, ‘independent school infographic’ or ‘stem education case study’.

Final thoughts

Social media monitoring provides schools with the opportunity to track their brand’s presence, competitors and key industry terms that can help keep them ahead of the game. Applying social listening skills will allow you to respond quickly and effectively to these mentions, adding to your school’s reputation.

Are you currently using social media monitoring to maximise your school’s presence? If not, at Shareable Schools we have developed our own social media monitoring tool. Find out more here.

P.S why not take a look at our previous blog, on how you can use social media to enhance classroom learning and curate school content!