Published on 2013/07/24

Marketing CE: Facebook Marketing Success (I Think)

Marketing CE | Facebook Marketing Success (I Think)
The most significant challenge continuing education marketers face when it comes to social media is showing that popularity online translates to enrollments and revenues for the unit.

Marketing with social media is still a developing process, but measuring success is becoming a bit easier. For me it means learning whether students enroll in our non-credit continuing education classes and/or think of our program in a positive light.

A gaggle of Twitter followers and a high number of ‘Likes’ on Facebook is great, but if none of those produce enrollments in our program, how do we show direct revenue coming from our new virtual friends? YouTube has a “monetization” feature, but with nearly 20,000 views on my videos, I’ve yet to see even a penny appear from them.

So how does a social media marketing strategy show success for a continuing education program?

1. Major Endorsements are Always Valuable

Keep in mind that as you review your friends and followers on social media, organizations are now delegating the role of social media manager to employees. So, although you might have an organization or company as your virtual friend, rarely will that friend produce direct revenue for you as a “butt in a seat”… unless you’re offering a social media marketing class!

However, the endorsement from a well-known brand in your industry might help to influence others to also follow you on social media. Don’t discount the power of association with social media, despite the claim a Facebook ‘Like’ or a Twitter ‘follow’ does not represent an official endorsement.

2. Focus on Providing Value for Clients

Put yourself in your prospective student’s place. Why are they looking for you on social media? Is it to get contact information? To keep up to date with new offerings? To get updates from your program or industry? To see if you mention them by name in your marketing?

When I look at social media feeds from organizations I work with, I look for offers or discounts and for news. I also visit to analyze their business operations. Job seekers and competitors are known to troll social media pages looking for tidbits they can use to their advantage. Keep your posts focused on advancing your brand and program goals and filter out information that distracts from these two goals.

3. Focus on your Neighborhood

If you’re like my continuing education program, which resides at a large public land-grant university, you have a focus on the local community as your area of service. You can enroll distant students via online programs, but your focus is primarily on the local community. When I see ‘Likes’ on our Facebook page from other geographical regions or countries, I appreciate the extra number, but I realize it most likely will not translate to any new enrollments for my program. This is one of the reasons ‘Likes’ cannot count as success for an institution.

My Facebook Marketing Success (I Think …)

Finally, my marketing success — I think — with Facebook. Roughly two years ago, I started a Facebook deal where we gave away a high-capacity (for the time) USB memory drive for every ‘check-in’ during a class.

This pushed students to advertise my program to their friends through word-of-mouth advertising and, in exchange, the student received a small item as a reward. The results have been fabulous; in the first year we had more than 100 check-ins — the limit on the deal — and this year I’ve had 55 to date.

How many USB drives have I handed out? Zero. Despite the check-in online, no one has come to the office to claim their USB drive (as indicated in the deal details) and no one has asked or mentioned it (that I can see) online. So the word-of-mouth advertising has worked out at a cost of a few clicks for us. Yet I really do want to hand out the USB drives — if only I could see who has been checking in.

What successes have you had or lessons have you learned with social media marketing for continuing education? Keep the conversation going below.

Marketing CE is an ongoing series where John DeLalla will discuss various strategies, both successful and unsuccessful, that have been implemented to creatively market continuing education.

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Readers Comments

Ryan Loche 2013/07/24 at 12:04 pm

As online becomes increasingly important (especially as a revenue-generation mechanism for public institutions and CE units)should we really be turning up our nose at Likes and Follows from outside our geographic zone?

    John DeLalla 2013/10/28 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for your comment – you raise a good point. I don’t intend to ‘turn up my nose’ at ‘likes’ from outside my geographic zone – however as a land-grant university with only face-to-face classes I focus on our local community. I know that some social media users might be moving to our area, have already moved but not updated their profile, or might travel to our area for class. So I don’t intend to ignore out of area folks, but I focus my time and resources that are local. Thanks again for bringing up the point of geographic followers!

Curtis Keller 2013/07/24 at 2:34 pm

In regards to the second point: have you found any anaytical software that allows you to track the activity of social media users?

We have considered sending out a survey asking how students use social media, but we’re not sure how successful it will be. However, we have no other thoughts on how we might learn more about how students use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and all the rest

    John DeLalla 2013/10/28 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks for your question. I am vaguely aware of software programs out there that might help, but I’m not deep enough personally into any of them to offer quality recommendations yet. Sorry.

    As for sending a survey to your students – how about instead shadowing a few or observing them on campus (with their permission of course) to see how they use social media? I visit with students and often get to indirectly observe how social media is used in the classroom, on breaks, etc, and I find that most students monitor social media throughout the day – and interact on unpredictable schedules.

    I’ve found that my website traffic is highest on Monday afternoon and Friday lunch time, with nearly zero traffic on Sunday’s. That data means to me that folks are unhappy with their job look for education on Monday, and perhaps managers looking to sign training approvals are reviewing on Friday before the weekend. Seeing little traffic on Sunday to means education is work, not personally, directed. But draw your own conclusions, and know that the best anaytical software is your brain knowing your target audience – by spending time with them. 🙂

John G. Karmen 2013/07/24 at 4:21 pm

I think it’s worthwhile to reexamine the aim of social media marketing. I’m not convinced it necessarily has to translate into a monetary return (e.g. enrolments). It’s more useful, in my mind, to view social media marketing as an exercise in raising brand awareness and driving interest among potential students. Those objectives are also easier to measure (e.g. How many people accessed the institution’s main site from our Facebook page?)

    John DeLalla 2013/10/28 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks for your comment – and I agree – using social media to raise your brand awareness and drive interest is an overarching reason for social media. The more you engage your audience they more connected they feel, and as humans we like to ‘buy from our friends.’ So being that friendly, available, institution should help your enrollments grow. Thanks for bringing this back to the main point! John

Tawna Regehr 2013/07/25 at 10:57 am

I agree with DeLalla that an unofficial endorsement (via a ‘Like’ on Facebook or a ‘retweet’) can be valuable for getting your brand out — at no cost to your unit. I remember, once, an NFLer who is also a local in our university town ‘retweeted’ one of our ‘tweets’ about a new postgraduate certificate program. We credited that for leading to a spike in phone inquiries and a dozen more ‘retweets.’ Of course, it’s difficult to verify that link, but I do recall someone calling in and asking if this athlete was one of our students/alumni.

    John DeLalla 2013/10/28 at 6:01 pm

    What a great story – thank you for sharing!

John Wayne Zimmerman 2013/09/28 at 3:35 am

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