Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Public Schools



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This study utilized a sequential mixed-methods design to investigate the role of social media as a marketing tool for public schools. The quantitative portion applied content analysis to 18 elementary schools with Facebook accounts. Post types and content categories were coded and analyzed to determine their roles in social media posts and user engagement. Inductive thematic analysis was utilized in the qualitative portion to determine short-term trends from Facebook posts and attitudinal responses from user comments. This study suggests that public schools may be falling behind the private sector in some areas of marketing. Public schools used specific tactics excessively, such as digital graphics as a post type and frequent announcements such as parent reminders and multiple posts in one day. Posts are often directly informative content without integrating brand personality attributes on social media, resulting in lower engagement. Additionally, schools were not intentional in requesting user interaction and seemed to be under-responsive to user questions and comments on Facebook. Although, findings from this study suggest that public schools can generate higher levels of engagement. During the time of this study, schools posted many celebration posts. Results show that the celebration posts utilized more brand personality attributes, including photos, videos, and school spirit, which led to more user engagement. When the schools directly requested user engagement, users were very responsive. Based on findings from this study, researchers and practitioners may be able to identify specific strategies and best practices to improve engagement from parents and other users on social media. This level of engagement is vital for public school leaders in direct competition with other organizations such as charter schools.



social media, public schools, school leaders, strategic marketing, school branding, parent engagement