Do Not Forget Mom and Dad: How to Reach the Decision Makers

college-marketing-strategiesWhen promoting your campus or programs to an audience, it seems obvious to target the students directly. They are the ones who will be applying; they are the ones that you will ultimately have to convince.

On the other hand, no matter how independent a young adult is, his or her parents will usually have the final say, as the majority of the time they will be paying for their child’s education. Without their approval, the child will not be likely to schedule a campus tour or complete an application, and the whole point of getting their interest in the first place will have been squandered.

It only makes sense to help your online marketing strategies “stick” by winning over the gatekeepers and not just the potential customers.

Reaching Parents Online

 When a typical parent browses, they are less likely to flit from link to link in search of stimulation or new experiences. Parents tend to have their go-to online locations they use to search for content within a specific set of sites or services.

 Moms are more likely to regularly check a blog that offers advice, budgeting or financial information and practical information for everyday affairs. Dads, on the other hand, tend to seek out sites with more variety or strong opinion-based content. Dads are also more likely to take a look at humorous content or inspiration type advice.

 These habits spill over to parents’ use of social media too. While parents may not have as much free time as the average student, they are still using a lot of the spare time they do have on social media. Parents are extremely interested in seeing what their friends are up to and what content is available.

 Parents and Social Media

 The most popular platform for parents is, by far, Facebook. Research conducted by the Marketing to Moms Coalition discovered that in 2012 over 73 percent of moms used Facebook as did 68 percent of dads. The rest of the data was as follows:

Moms Dads
Facebook 73% 68%
Youtube 31% 46%
Twitter 14% 16%
Pinterest 18% 8%
LinkedIn 8% 18%

Source: Marketing to Moms Coalition – State of American Mom 2012
Facebook Marketing to Parents

 Using Facebook as an example, there are many strategies to approach marketing to parents. First, a share is one of the best markers you can have for your brand. Parents who regularly see and are engaged by your content are more apt to “like” your page and thus have access to your daily feed.

 From there, consistently providing interesting and relevant content will make them likely to share that content and spread brand awareness. Avoid posts that come across as blatant self-promotion and instead see your organization as offering a helpful or interesting content service with your online presence.

 Battle for the Sexes

 Solid content will usually involve targeting the parents’ diverse interests. When looking at the overall data regarding internet usage, moms were the ones who were more interested in practical, day-to-day information that can be shared as a form of helping out their other parent friends. Moms also have a greater curiosity regarding photos of activities and events that involve their perceived community.

 Dads, on the other hand, are more prone to share “witty” or thought-probing content such as articles that take strong stances, inspirational quotes or humorous jokes. These are generalizations, to be sure, but trying to appeal to different facets of social media interests will serve to make your marketing more appealing to the population at large.

Other Effective Strategies

Be sure to include lots of eye-catching media such as videos and photos. Mix up your type of content to ensure variety and avoid seeming “stale” by posting the same type of thing every day. Instead, cater to many niches and incorporate a healthy assortment of:

  • Shared content from other sites or pages
  • Media posts, such as a photo album or video
  • Informative updates on the company, such as upcoming events or changes
  • Original content, such as pictures or specialized informative posts
  • General “personal” posts from the perspective of the company, such as commenting on the wonderful fall weather or saying you are excited about the new school year

Finally, do not invest all of your effort on any one site. Have content available for those that prefer Twitter over Facebook. Add in a smattering of videos on Youtube and plenty of Pinterest activity to keep moms actively engaged.