What is it?
Odds are you have heard of this metric before only under a different name such as Facebook Page “Likes”, Twitter “Followers”, or YouTube and blog “Subscribers”. This metric is often used to measure a channel’s success; however, using this metric alone is a bit like using one screenshot to determine the story of an entire movie. Your Reach consists of the people a message will directly touch, but not necessarily the number of people who will actively engage and interact with you. It is important to remember that Engagement will show how well you are communicating with your audience.
It is also important to note that your Reach is not a limit. Highly engaging content will spread through your audience to new people and hopefully prospective students!
Why is it important?
You must know your audience to engage them. Reach is more than simply the number of people, but also the type of audience your channel has. It is important to know who you are talking to. Is it alumni, parents, current students, prospective students? This can be determined by analyzing the demographic data available to you. For example, if you see that your Admissions Facebook Page consists primarily of 18-24 year olds in and around your institution your audience is mostly current students and possibly recent alumni.
What can you do about it?
There is no one-size-fits-all for schools but broadly you can tailor your message to your key audience. Solicit current students to show off your institution by posting pictures and sharing their experience. Ask your alumni to post advice to students and share memories of campus or iconic places. Encourage prospective students to post questions and meet other students. And introduce parents to the campus learning environment and faculty members. Tailoring your message provides your audience with the content they want and are more likely to respond or react to.
Be wary of “buying” your audience. In other words using Facebook Ads to increase page Likes. This will increase your Reach but not Engagement. Find out why that’s important here. There are some special cases where Facebook Ads can be used effectively as a small part of an overall strategy, but this does not supplement for true interaction as a foundation for Social Media.