As you look to attract prospective students and families, making sure it’s the right fit on both ends is important. What better way to gauge that than by getting input from students and families who are already part of your school community?
Your current families are an extension of your school—students, parents, and caregivers help bring your mission to life and create a unique school culture. They also hold valuable insight for new families deciding if your school is the right choice for them.
Read on for creative ways to engage existing families and get them excited about showcasing your school.
Create an Ambassador Program
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to gain the interest of prospective families. Why? When existing families speak positively on your school’s behalf, it builds a sense of trust and speeds up the vetting process for families as they compare multiple schools. Implementing an ambassador program can help you utilize families who are already enthusiastic about your school and increase word-of-mouth referrals.
Building and maintaining an ambassador program is easier than you might think; many of your current families are likely already sharing insight about your school within their communities. If you equip them with the right tools, it’s a surefire way to reach new families.
Create a premade ambassador toolkit with information about your school. Include a mission statement, a summary of student achievements, information on the application process, common questions and answers, and how to get in touch with your school if they have questions. You likely already have this information available on your website or in printed materials—rework it into an easily digestible format with cohesive branding to form your toolkit. Make it easy to share by hosting it digitally, so that ambassadors can simply copy and paste a link to send out via social media, email, or text.
Ready to get the word out there? Prepare ambassadors for success by sending them tips on how to use the toolkit. For example, you may supply them with an outreach email template they can customize and send. Or, talking points that they can use at volunteer events.
Crowdsource Social Media Posts
If you want to build (or expand) your school’s social media presence, crowdsourcing social media posts is an impactful, easy way to start. Essentially, you encourage current families to share their unique perspectives on social media using a common tag to link back to your school; you may create a school-specific hashtag or have them tag your account in posts.
This is a great way to cover the wide variety of benefits your school has to offer—sporting events, music groups, academic competitions, and more! While it would be difficult and time-consuming to task staff with covering all these angles for social media, crowdsourcing enables you to share a glimpse into every aspect of your school.
Look at how Falk Laboratory School incorporated their hashtag, #FalkLabBigThinking, on their school website. Visitors can click on the hashtag to see a feed displaying the posts community members have shared with the hashtag!
How to start crowdsourcing social media posts:
- Decide how you would like to tie posts back to your social media accounts (hashtag or social media handle).
- Add a short blurb to your website, email signatures, and social media profiles that encourages families to share posts.
- Send out an email to your existing community introducing the concept and invite them to start sharing. You may include examples for each channel or prompts that inspire them to get creative with their posts.
- Make sure you have an assigned staff member or volunteer who can monitor and engage with the posts that are shared by liking, commenting, and re-posting to your channels! This boosts morale and encourages families to continue sharing.
Reviews and Testimonials
When we are searching for a new community, product, or service, the first thing most of us do is read online reviews. The same is true for your school! Prospective families will look to reviews to gain insight into what they can expect from your school. You can ask current families to post an online review or provide a testimonial that you can use in public-facing communications materials.
Here are a few pointers for requesting a review or testimonial:
- Guide current families through the process to make it as easy as possible for them! Include a direct link to where you’d like them to leave a review and explain directions if necessary. If you are requesting a testimonial, explain how it will be used in various materials.
- Provide a few prompts that they can use to start their review or testimonial, such as “What do you enjoy about our school community?” or “How has our school helped your student grow?”
- Once a review is posted or you receive a testimonial, make sure to respond and thank them for taking the time to provide their input.
You may also consider providing an incentive for sharing a review or testimonial—gift cards, school apparel, or free admission to a school event are great ways to motivate families to share their thoughts.
As you work hard to draw in prospective families, ensure you’re ready for the next step in their journey—applications!
When families are ready to apply, make sure their experience is seamless from the start. Features like centralized portals, quick application processing, easy status tracking, and more allow families to focus on what’s important: getting their students set up for success as they head back to school. Plus, a smooth application process is a big selling point—the easier it is to apply, the more likely families are to complete the application process.
Current families can support this next step too! Ensure they can speak to the ease of your application process—whether it be through volunteer events or on social media—and encourage them to share their experience going through the process.
Need help simplifying the admissions process? Ravenna ADMIT partners with schools to make sure every step of the way is user-friendly and saves families and staff time. Chat with a team member to learn more and see if it’s the right fit for your school.