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12 Tips for Spook-tacular Business School Facebook Posts

higher ed marketing

(This post was originally published on October 3, 2013 and has been updated for freshness and recent Facebook posts.)

If you strolled into a Hallmark store in the days leading up to Halloween, you no doubt were confronted by spooky displays although Bernie the Bat Drop ‘n’ Greet Motion-Activated Decoration actually looked more cuddly than frightening.

This attention-grabbing strategy of motion activated toys like Rory the Candy Monster Interactive Stuffed Animal works well for Hallmark. Who doesn’t stop in their tracks to play with all the fun buttons and sounds? (Well, I confess that I did!)

Several years ago, I came across the Forbes’ article, “Business Schools Social Media Ranking 2013- Do You Like, Follow and Subscribe?”. It made me think of how business schools can grab prospects’ attention and strengthen engagement in their social media campaigns.

Like Hallmark, how can business schools stop customers (prospective graduate business students) in their tracks when they open their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds?

The Forbes’ article argues that business schools like Harvard and Stanford are leading the way on social media. It’s not all that surprising. After all, they are brand powerhouses.

But what about all the other MBA and specialty master’s programs out there – including smaller business schools with limited resources? How can business schools attract an active following and engage prospects online?

The real scary part of social media marketing is that there is so much information in news feeds these days that it’s difficult to stand out – especially when you have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention.

And the reason why you want to capture attention? Research shows that “42% of all marketers sourced a lead from Facebook in 2013.”

For several years now, I’ve been monitoring and analyzing Facebook posts of more than 100 business schools. I have “pinned” more than 6,000 posts covering topics such as admissions advice, webinars, information sessions, recruitment fairs, earned media, faculty research, media rankings, student profiles, and alumni successes. Clear patterns have emerged in terms of best practices. Here are some tips based on some of the most engaging posts:

1. Create Infographics

Infographics are a great way to convey a lot of data in an easy-to-read and entertaining format. Check out the examples below which stand out in a news feeds.

Why are infographics so effective?

An infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article.

That’s because 10% of people remember what they hear, 20% of people remember what they read, and 80% of people remember what they see & do.

Furthermore, it only takes our brains 150 ms to process a symbol and 100 ms to attach meaning to it.

For some great tips on creating infographics, check out The Anatomy of a Highly Shareable Infographic.

2. Boost engagement with contests

Social media is all about engagement to build relationships with prospects and drive action. Contests are a popular way to do so.  Here is an example of an innovative one below:

Also, note the use of hashtags to expand reach. Check out this article for more tips on how to optimize Facebook hashtags.

3. Use visuals

Research shows that photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than the average post.

Note that this post follows another golden rule – keep copy succinct. In fact,posts of 80 characters or less get 23% more social interaction (comments, likes, shares) than the average according to this article in Social Media Today.

Here are some examples of compelling visuals that “pop” in newsfeeds:

4. Create variety with maps

Here is another example of “thinking visually” to get noticed.

5. Connect on an emotional level

Let’s face it. Career advancement may be the primary reason to apply to business school – but it’s not the only one. Enduring friendships are formed along with an extensive support network. As this article points out, emotional engagement is the key to content marketing success. So, make an emotional connection through storytelling and showcasing faculty research that speaks tot the challenges and “pain points” of your target audience. Here are some examples below:

6. Showcase ROI

You could write a brief paragraph about all the services provided by your career office, but this colorful logo post sums it up and makes a powerful statement. Notice the link back to the website.

7.  Clean & Simple

To drive a call-to-action, less is more. Keep prospects focused on what you want them to do without other distractions. This does the job nicely.

8. Be colorful

Capture attention in a busy news feed with bold colors and concise messaging. Notice how the accolade below pops.

9. Show how research is relevant  

In our era of “humanized marketing” it’s all about showing the personality of the brand. Business school is serious business, but we can still convey the knowledge in a way that seems less stuffy. Present faculty research with the intention to build a connection with your audience. Spark curiosity, challenge assumptions, cultivate interest, address challenges. Here are some examples below.

10. Student Personas

As consumers, we are often drawn to brands that have gone above and beyond to assist us according to this HubSpot article. As such, you’ll go a long way to convert more prospects into students if you segment your audience and tailor your digital communications accordingly. Show that you “get” them and understand their needs and goals. Here are some examples that speak to student personas:


 LGBT Community:


11. Start with Why?

It’s a simple concept that easy to miss. Yet it’s so important. Create posts that answer this question. Why your business school?


12.  Promote location

Not every business school can be located in the financial capital of the world or in Silicon Valley. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other location benefits. Consider the ambiguity effect, which causes people to avoid the unknown. Show how your business school location is known – and desirable.


At the end of the day, it’s all about creating concise and compelling messaging with engaging visuals that convey the personality of your business school brand. Be sure to craft posts that capture attention and stop readers from scrolling down further. Entice them to click and learn more. Ultimately, the goal is to build relationships and produce content that makes readers want to share. As the director of marketing and communications at HootSuite says:

“The potential to build relationships coupled with the ‘viral effect’ is what makes storytelling and social media powerful tools for marketers.”

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  1. timakin #

    Love these examples, thank you!

    November 2, 2015
    • You are welcome! Glad you liked the post!l

      November 2, 2015

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