Converting Followers into Active Supporters: Attracting New Families/Donations

Mary gets called out to New York on an emergency business trip and is going to miss her son’s championship game.  But she tunes into Facebook Live and sees Jimmy make the winning basket. She is overjoyed and can’t stop talking about the game and how supportive your school is of families.  Her friends and colleagues are so intrigued, they check out your school’s Facebook page themselves, and start to follow your school.

After many long years, Bill & Dottie, retire to Florida, deciding that their traveling days are over.  As active Facebook followers of their granddaughter’s high school, they are thrilled to watch, in the comfort of their living room, as she receives her diploma at graduation.  They share this special moment with all their friends, children (prospective parents) and grandchildren (prospective students), who also check out your school’s Facebook page.

Dave, an alumnus of your school, is deployed in Iraq and will miss his son’s entire soccer season.  But, he now connects with him on Facebook to watch the games on base.  He is so thankful that his almamater now provides live streaming, as he shows his buddies all the great instant replays from the games.

Mary, Bill & Dottie, and Dave were Facebook followers of your school.  They are now active supporters after receiving the “gift” of watching their loved ones remotely.  Active supporters are vital to sustaining and growing your school.  They enthusiastically promote your school to prospective families.  They share videos of games and events.  They write donation checks.

Many schools underestimate the power of social media.  A typical Catholic High School has almost 4000 social media followers (2200-Facebook, 850-Instagram, 900-Twitter).  Imagine doubling the number of followers and then converting a majority into active supporters.  The results would be fantastic.

Facebook users, on average, check their feed 8 times a day and spend a total of 35 minutes on social media.  Similarly, 76% of teens, age 13-17 use Instagram and monitor their account multiple times each day.  But what type of content brings viewers to your school page and keeps them engaged?

Facebook research has shown that live streaming unquestionably has the highest viewer engagement, followed by recorded video clips, then still photos and finally text, which has the lowest viewership.

If you want to convert social media followers into active supporters, you need to give them content that excites and engages them.  Live streaming is that content, enabling a worldwide audience (traveling parents, deployed military, distant grandparents and alumni) to enjoy the excitement of a game or event when travel is prohibitive.  Best of all, after a live streaming event is complete, the recorded version (the video) is available on Facebook, while instant replay clips can also be viewed on Instagram and Twitter.

Equally important is to provide new live streaming content on a regular basis, preferably 2-3 times each week.  Posts on social media have a very short lifespan, because they get pushed down the timeline and become quickly forgotten.  The chart below tracks the number of new Facebook views each day after the initial post.

It’s key to continuously add new content to keep your social media pages “fresh,” which only increases viewership and the number of followers.  Schools should live stream and record as many different games and events as possible.  Remember the goal is to grow the number of social media followers and convert them into active supporters and donors.  Even if your school has a top-notch football team, a parent’s passion may lie with their daughter’s lacrosse team.  So if you want their support and enthusiasm, you need to bring lacrosse to social media.  This same concept applies to students.  If you want student support, show their faces on social media (principally Instagram), as often as possible.

uTV Marketing brings your school into the day to day conversations of your community, both locally and globally.  Energize your significant (4,000) followers by providing engaging content (live streaming and recorded video), on a regular basis.  Showcase the excellence of your school.  Create shared memories between parents/grandparents and their loved ones.  Reconnect alumni and convert your social media followers into active supporters, whose enthusiasm will naturally attract new families and donors.  The chart below summarizes the concept.

Mike Schell, President of uTV Marketing, is passionate about marketing Catholic schools.  He attended Catholic schools as a child and his children graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs.  He and his wife, Patricia, are active members of the local Catholic community. He can be reached at: