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Using Twitter to Battle Declining Enrollment

Luring in parents with social networking is part of one district's strategy.

For the Tempe (Ariz.) Elementary School District, Facebook and Twitter are just one element of a comprehensive marketing strategy officials are using to lure more parents to the district at a time of declining enrollment. In the 2008-2009 school year, the district lost 250 students.

“We are constantly looking and exploring new ways to try to retain students that are here in our district and to bring in new kids,” says Gary Aungst, the district’s director of community affairs and marketing.

Videos on the district’s Web site and its Facebook page promote its educational offerings to parents. One video, for example, shows parents praising the district’s kindergarten program. For parents who are too busy to visit a prospective school, the Web videos are an important promotional tool, Aungst says. “Our strategy was that we are going to take our product and bring it to parents directly,” he says.

Facebook and Twitter are two channels that the district is using to bring those positive marketing messages to parents, he says. “It’s just another way for us to reach them,” Aungst says, “and we can’t begin to influence them if we can’t reach them.”

Marketing tools like Web sites, videos and social media are even more important to draw attention to district news and accomplishments in today’s media environment, he says. Many newspapers are reducing coverage, cutting jobs and even closing across the nation—leaving districts to fill the gap through their Web sites, Facebook, Twitter and other communication channels, he says.