Independent Schools have long prided themselves on staying on the cutting edge of advances in the world of education – but what about the marketing teams responsible for telling the story? Communications and marketing departments at independent schools are rarely larger than one or two people, so taking advantage of emerging technologies like – like Buffer – is critical to maintaining a consistent social media presence without sacrificing a great deal of time.

Buffer is a company founded in 2010 that analyzes your social media audience and schedules posts for times when they will be the most effective. Free accounts allow you to schedule up to 10 posts across one account per social network, but paid accounts offer benefits that go much further. At The Rivers School, we have been using Buffer’s “Awesome Plan” since November and in the first month increased our website’s Social Media referred sessions by 90 percent over the same period last year and 141 percent over the previous month.

In short: Buffer has been a game-changer, and I’d like to provide a quick guide to how you can start using Buffer to market your school or business TODAY.

Start the Free Trial

As soon as you sign up, you can start a free trial of the “Awesome Plan” and start taking advantage of the scheduling capabilities Buffer offers across all of your social media platforms. The Awesome Plan allows you to schedule up to 100 posts (vs. 10 on the free plan) on up to 10 social media accounts (vs. 5 and one per network) and gives you access to the “Content Inbox,” which is a great way to find content to share with your audience from other sources and RSS feeds. The trial period is 7 days and should give you enough information to decide whether or not to upgrade to the Awesome Plan, which costs $10/month or $102/year.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-9-38-41-am

The trial period is 7 days and should give you enough information to decide whether or not to upgrade to the Awesome Plan, which costs $10/month or $102/year.

Run the Optimal Timing Tool

This is Buffer’s biggest differentiator and how you deploy it will determine how successful your Buffer usage is. The Optimal Timing Tool analyzes your social media account and followers and selects times during the day when your posts would be most effective. Whether you want to have one or 16 scheduled posts per day, this Tool will schedule them out for you.

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One you have run the tool you can begin sharing updates and planning posts that will engage your audience.

Find Your Best Content and Push it Out

Your website should be full of interesting and engaging content that your have already spent weeks or months or years amassing and updating and assembling in ways that will drive people towards either your Admissions Inquiry page or Giving page, SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!

Have a great blog from your Head of School that extolls the virtues of the school, its students, and its faculty? Schedule it! Is your Admissions Event page loaded up with Open House and Community Events where people can learn more about the school? Schedule it! Did you just put together a video of the Jazz Band? Schedule it!

There is no need to reinvent the wheel and change your content strategy to fill your Buffer queue with great content – you already have it! Now it is a matter of targeting that content and putting it to work for you.

Check Your Analytics Tab

Once you have been at this for a couple days and have shared a dozen or so updates, take a look at your Analytics Tab and figure out which posts are accomplishing your goals. Are you looking for likes, shares, retweets, comments, or clicks? Sort your posts by your desired action and think about how you might create more posts that give your audience the same kind of information.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-9-53-12-amRemember: There is no shame in reusing content! People will miss some of your posts, so pushing out important and effective content several times insures that your message reaches the audience you need it to. Besides, if the content is good people will always enjoy it!

Experiment, Refine, Perfect

The great part of social media is that content has a very short lifespan for the customer. On Twitter, content flys by people so fast that being bypassed is the worst thing that can happen. Are posts with graphics performing better than posts with photos? Are posts with outbound links doing better than links to your school’s website content? Are links to landing pages performing better than links to news stories? The answer to these questions will be different for every school, so figure out what works for you, refine that strategy, and perfect your social media content strategy!

I hope you have found this quick guide helpful and are well on your way to streamlining your social media content strategy with Buffer so you are free to continue creating the content that tells your school’s unique story (which you will later share on buffer!).

Jimmy Kelley is a storyteller, coach, and advisor at The Rivers School in Weston, MA. You can find him on Twitter at @JimmyKelley_ or on LinkedIn

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