What story does your social media tell? Does it show fun activities, a welcoming environment and engaged parents?
First impressions count, and often, you make your first impression online. As a result, you want an up-to-date website and social media presence that shows your child care business in a positive light.
Your social media presence can boost your credibility, help prospective new parents find you, and help current customers refer you to their friends and family.
The best social media channels have a mix of post-types such as graphics, videos and many positive reviews. Did you know that Inc. magazine reported 84% of people trust reviews?
One thing we know, we live in a digital-first world. There are already 80 million Millennials (the oldest are turning 40!), expecting everything to be online.
Fortunately, a targeted social media approach can help you reach your parents where they already spend time, and use these channels to stay engaged with them and encourage referrals. There’s no need to be everywhere. Instead, focus your energies on the established social media tools where your audience already shows up.
For example, Facebook started in 2004. At 17 years old, it has the largest reach of any social media network, and some statistics show 59% of people on social media have a Facebook account. A recent study also shows 32.4% of its users are 25-34 years old.
Facebook is an established communication tool for many. It’s also home to local groups of all types where people ask for referrals and suggestions for everything from a plumber to a child care business. Your child care center has an excellent chance of being found and recommended with a strong Facebook presence.
Besides Facebook, many of your parents are likely on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Instagram and Pinterest are visual, and YouTube is video-based. If you’re going to use these as cornerstones of your social media plan, then you’ll need great images and video. Depending on your in-house staff, you may opt to go all-in on one or two of these, or you may want to wait.
No matter what you decide, it’s a good practice to review your social media pages every month to see what’s working for your business and what could be improved.
9 Social Media Tips for Your Child Care Business
Here are nine things you can do this week to improve your social media presence and get better results.
1- Review Your Social Media Presence
Is your banner image clean and well-branded? How often do you post? How much engagement do you typically receive? Which posts get the most engagement? If you were a prospective parent, would you be impressed? Is your messaging clear?
When you’re familiar with something, it’s easy to overlook things because you already know the bigger picture and your intention. If you can, ask someone outside of your organization to review your social media and website. A trusted outsider can pick up on things that you might overlook.
2- What to Share?
Now more than ever, it’s essential to keep your social media updated with current COVID protocols. Have your hours changed? Are you accepting new students? What are your new procedures?
Include relevant information on your social media channels and website. Ensure any photos or videos reflect COVID protocols, i.e., no large gatherings of maskless students and teachers.
In addition, it’s always useful to post quality photos of your child care center, teacher spotlights, craft activities, learning suggestions, share funny kid quotes and answer FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
Asking questions is one tried and true way of boosting your engagement. For example, as a child care business, you could ask something like, “What’s your child’s favorite snack? We’re revamping our menus and would love to hear from you.” Always include a picture or video.
You can ask your staff for fun ideas too. The more perspectives you have, the more imaginative and fun the questions can be.
Another way to get more engagement is to showcase your staff. Have them shoot a quick video or post a photo that introduces them to your parents. You can take this approach by celebrating birthdays, anniversary of working with you or other significant events such as starting work at your center.
Speaking of birthdays, how does your staff celebrate student birthdays? Can you share pictures of some of the birthday gatherings? What about a funny kid quote of the day like Reader’s Digest does with the “Kids Say the Darndest Things” column? You could make this a standard lunchtime post so when people are scrolling through social media on a mid-day break, they come to expect a chuckle from you.
Part of sharing on social is experimenting with different types of posts. Questions, polls, funny images can all spark engagement and visibility.
3- Create a Content Calendar
It’s nice to have a mix of pre-scheduled content as well as room for spontaneity. For example, if you have theme days such as Warmhearted Wednesday or Friday Fun, you can build content around those. If you have a one-off event such as a therapy dog coming to visit, you can easily slot in an additional post and capture the excitement. Wondering where to start when building a content calendar? There are lots of examples online – here’s a link to one you can download.
4- Have a Shared Database for Content
Whether it’s Google Drive, Dropbox or another system, a central repository for photos, videos, graphics and ideas makes it easier. Imagine one teacher does a craft project with her students and wants to photograph the results. Then, she can upload those photos to your shared database, and your content manager can schedule the post when appropriate. Of course, it’s important to remember that you should have photo and video releases for any of the children you feature publicly. More about this in #9.
5- Establish Ownership
While multiple people can post, it’s good practice to have one person as the “owner” of the social media channels. That way, they can make sure the posts are published and someone responds to questions and comments promptly. They can also experiment with posting types and times to see which gets the most engagement.
6- Repurpose Your Content
Some of your social media content can become part of your newsletters. Blog posts can incorporate video; graphics can become infographics. There are many ways to repurpose existing content and get more mileage out of the work you’ve already done.
7- Encourage Reviews (and Review Them)
Whether on Facebook, Google Reviews, Yelp or other review sites, positive reviews are powerful tools for boosting trust and credibility. They can also get outdated over time. For example, if you Google your child care business, is the location/address correct? What about the hours?
Next, you can look at your reviews and see what people have said about you. It’s good practice to respond to negative reviews regularly in a professional way. Not only is that a good customer service practice, but other potential parents may see your response. A negative review handled well by your center can reflect well on your staff. As you get new reviews, those can outweigh an old, negative review.
8- Create a Social Media Culture
When you bake social media into your way of being, it’s much easier to create a lively and engaging social presence that aligns with your values. With social media an expected communication tool, it’s a natural place to engage with your parents and prospective parents. It can take some trial and error to create a cohesive social media culture for your child care business, but it’ll pay off in happy families and recommendations when you do.
9- Have a Social Media Policy
A social media policy relates to the kinds of things you post and how/if you gain parental permission to post pictures of their children. It makes it easy to refer to when you have questions, and your posts will fit your brand.
Some child care centers have rules about what staff posts on their social media profiles and whether they can take photos with their personal devices. If you don’t already have a social media policy, what would you want to include? If you’re not sure, here’s some guidance you can use.
A child care business with an active and professional-looking social media presence inspires trust. It’s your first impression with your prospective parents, and you want to make it a good one. You can develop a framework that works for your child care center and serves as a positive introduction.
Bonus Tip: Once your parents are part of your child care center, you can deepen your relationship with them using a child care app. Your center can easily and securely post pictures, videos and specific updates on each child’s progress – all within the app. The benefit? You’re building strong relationships with your parents, who in turn can become your advocates and support your center’s growth goals.