What to do with Facebook for your language activity
Facebook. Over 1 billion users. Ubiquitous. But is it any good for your language training business?
OK, let’s talk Facebook. You want to know if it’s worth getting into and if you are using it, are you using it well. Well, first of all, 2 comments.
Facebook is NOT normally a profitable way to get new leads. Not in my experience, and not compared to natural SEO and Adwords. Social media in general are nowhere near as profitable as experts make them out to be.
Secondly, there is a branding issue. Facebook is very much a place for entertainment and procrastination, not for making business decisions. Facebook might not be a good fit for your school or activity if you train business executives, for example.
Those 2 things said, here are a few things you can think about to see what fits for you and your language training.
Publish photos of happy students on your Facebook page
You probably already know that you can establish an official page for your language training business on Facebook. You can link it to your profile, just like for Google Plus. People might find your business through Facebook before your site (Google will put the link into its search engine) and it helps for it to be up-to-date and interesting. Ways of doing this are sharing articles, posting photos of happy students, testimonials, liking posts from ‘friends’, etc. You must be proactive in telling your students that you’re on Facebook. Obviously publicising it in your email signature is a good way. Warning: it’s time-consuming!
Engage your students with a closed group
Facebook’s closed groups are really, really good. Easy to set up and fun for people to participate in. It makes sense to have one for current and former students to meet and greet. You can engage them with quizzes, articles and posts. The exclusivity of a closed group (especially when money has been paid to help get them there) makes participation rates higher.
Interest potential students with a topical open group
Sorry, but a branded group of your school will not interest anyone. But a topical group would. Go to the language niche you work in, and think about a subject that you know would interest potential participants. You might have to think of topics that only lightly touch upon language learning but still make sense for you to be the group manager, for example: Intercultural, HR, Learning & Development, Neuroscience and language learning, your location (tourism), language methods, teacher training, etc. Warning: it’s time-consuming!
Try advertising a gift
Online marketers advertise with Facebook often (you may see their “suggested posts” in your feed) and they very rarely make a straight product offer. More often than not, they’re trying to entice you to their website through ebooks, tests, surveys, interesting articles, etc. You could do the same. Once they’re on your site, then it’s up to you where you want to take them, but at least they’re not in Facebook anymore.
The advantage of Facebook Advertising is that it is very demographic-friendly (you can choose location, language, user profile, etc.), the disadvantage is that it tends to be very hit and miss – when you analyse who clicked and liked your ads, sometimes you wonder what’s wrong with them as they seem so far from your targeted user.
Show the number of your followers on your website
Facebook and websites are now easy to connect, and a lot of websites show the number of followers they have on Facebook. This is solely to show how popular their brand is. If you have an official Facebook page, then people who are interested in your language training can follow this page for any new updates. People only follow if they already know and like your brand, or if they love the content you post and want to be told when more comes out.
You can tell people to follow but this means they leave your site to go (back) to Facebook.
Show the Facebook feed on your website
This is to show how great the quality of your content is on Facebook (see the first tip). You can actually show visitors on your site a copy of what’s happening on your Facebook page. You do this to show how much you engage with the real world, and that you’re not a cold, corporate entity. Obviously, if your last Facebook interaction was in 2009, then it makes you look a bit of an idiot.
Talk to other trainers and experts
It’s not all about looking for and keeping business. Facebook has plenty of groups of your peers that you can find and communicate with. Just type in a key word in the search box and look for groups that interest you the most. There are several ELT and TEFL groups that have huge numbers of members.
Facebook is all about engagement, and engagement means time, and time (someone once said pithily) is money. It’s also very important to make your decision whether to use it based on your branding. If the brand fits, and you are prepared to spend the time to engage, then by all means try to use Facebook. I’d always, always think of my students first, and how Facebook could interest them, before thinking of obtaining new ones.
Joss Frimond is a sales and marketing expert for the ELT industry. He runs Linguaid, a consultancy to help language schools and independent teachers to get more students. You can find more articles, including “22 actionable marketing tips for independent ESL & TEFL teachers” and access to 2 free eBooks at www.linguaid.net/blog.