Marketing your child-centered program has never been more challenging. You’re competing not only with other centers and schools in your area, but with COVID-19 shut-downs, widespread work-from-home, and general worries about safety. That’s a lot of competition.
So how can you market your childcare center effectively without breaking the bank?
Social media. Facebook, specifically.
Put your childcare center where parents can see it.
Parents aren’t out and about socializing on the sidelines at soccer in many places – they still aren’t allowed. They’re not stopping as much to chit chat with a friend at the grocery store. They’re not chauffeuring to birthday parties, play dates, and extracurricular activities at the same clip as they were pre-COVID.
One thing they are doing is relying on social media to stay connected with friends, family, and local business like yours.
You’ve seen them in action – busy parents with noses stuck in smartphones, always on the run, answering emails, sending texts, and yes – checking their social media feeds. With less to do these days and a lot more “free” time on their hands at home, it’s a safe bet that screen time is up and scrolling through social media has almost become a subconscious habit.
And if social media is where parents are living and socializing these days, you need to meet them where they are. Online and on Facebook. Here’s how to set up a Facebook page for your organization, how to create engaging posts parents will want to share, and how to leverage your social media presence to spread the word about your program.
Getting started with an organization Facebook page
For most of us, Facebook is what we use to keep connected to old high school friends, post pictures of kids, share our favorite recipes, diets, memes, and more. But Facebook can be a powerful tool for your childcare or preschool business if you use it the right way.
The first step in establishing a Facebook following is to create an organization page. It’s not much different from the process you used to create your personal Facebook profile, but for your business, be sure to make choices that reinforce your brand and are easily recognized by your target audience.
When selecting the cover photo for the top of your Facebook page, keep in mind that it should match your brand’s look and feel, using your organization’s logo, or even just the brand colors and font.
Choose a cover photo you won’t need to change, and if you do want to freshen it up, limit your updates to an annual makeover. That way, people within your community can spot posts from you easily when scrolling through their Facebook feeds.
The description is a great place to house the link to your organization’s website, your motto or tagline, your philosophy, and contact information. A link to your online registration form is also a plus, and it would be helpful to parents if you housed a link to your Parent Portal there as well.
Posting school events on Facebook
Traditionally, you relied on fun and festive event flyers via email or stuffed into take-home folders to notify parents of upcoming events, and you relied on parents to spread the word. Try posting on your organization’s Facebook page to expand your school event exposure by giving parents the opportunity to like and share some of your public events, like your flea market fundraiser, spring concert, school play, or book fair.
This way, the event’s popularity can gain momentum through likes, comments, and shares on the event page, as well as through its growing RSVP list. The more people who are exposed to the cool, fun things you have planned, the more people will be interested in what your program has to offer for their little ones.
Separate your organization page from parent Facebook Groups
Your organization’s Facebook page should feel professional, organized, a place where information about your program lives. From your website link to hours of operation, it serves almost as a secondary website.
Would you want the parents already in your program posting questions and comments all over your website for prospective families to see? No. But you do want them liking and sharing your Facebook posts so their friends, families, and neighbors see them, too.
Keep your parent forum separate from your main organization page by forming a private Facebook group just for parents. This allows them to interact and engage with one another without flooding your main page with comments that you may not want as part of your feed that the general public can see (think “Is anyone else having trouble finding the supplies needed for the book report project” or “has anyone gotten information on our upcoming field trip?”, things like that).
This way, parents feel like they are part of an exclusive, private group, but they can still communicate with one another when they need help, advice, or just a sympathetic ear.
Using Facebook Polls to engage friends and followers
Facebook Polls are a great way to start conversations and begin interacting with prospective parents. When looking forward to upcoming activities, or even planning events for the new school year, a “which event would you be most likely to attend or volunteer to run” poll can be a good way to show prospective parents that you actually care about the parent-school partnership.
What kind of questions should you ask in a Facebook Poll? Try these:
- What days/times are most convenient for school activities like our annual book fair?
- Would you attend an in-person open house, or would you be more comfortable taking a virtual tour?
- Would you prefer to attend the parent organization meeting in person or via Zoom?
- What upcoming events would you be most likely to volunteer to organize?
Using Facebook for announcements and need-to-know information
Although Facebook offers a convenient, reliable, and timely way for people to view your most recent information, you can’t guarantee that all prospective parents in your community will see your posts, even if they follow your page. What about all those Facebook algorithm rumors, or parents with feeds clogged by friends who post every little thing from updates on shopping trips to how great they feel after spin class?
So, how can you ensure your social media presence doesn’t get lost in the newsfeed?
Consider boosting your most important posts, like the announcement for your next open house, your enrollment period, news about summer camp or reading groups. Boosting posts does cost a small feel – sometimes as low as $20 – and it gives you the ability to make your posts more visible.
You can select audience criteria, and Facebook will broaden your appeal by displaying your post to people whose profiles fall within your specific requests – like parents, teachers, etc. Boosts only last a couple of days, but they can have a major impact on your program’s online visibility for very little money.
How to engage parents in your Facebook marketing strategy
There are loads of ways to use Facebook to keep parents involved and in-the-know, whether at school or at home. But how do you get them liking and sharing beyond the normal “cute kid” posts they normally interact with?
Try these three ideas:
- Most likes contest: When parents share your posts, their network of friends see them, too. Consider holding a contest for the number of likes from their re-posts. After a week, whoever has the most likes is the winner!
- Like and share raffle: Consider hosting a raffle at the end of each enrollment period, with points or tickets earned for each post shared entered into the drawing. The more they share, the more chances to win!
- Post-a-quote contest: Ask parents to submit a short statement about things they love about your center. Turn each quote into a facebook post and post a different one each day for a set period of time (if you get a lot of quotes, you may need to post more than once a day). The quote post with the most likes is the winner!
There are lots of ways to expand your online reach using Facebook, and getting parents on board with sharing your posts is critical to your social media marketing efforts. You can also use many of these same ideas for other platforms, such as Instagram, to help grow and expand your enrollment – and your business. Happy posting!