Remember the old days of having to actually do your own research to find answers?
Going to the library, finding the right section, reading the book…no, not that far back, I mean figuring out the right “thing” to Google and then skimming the top results.
So much work! 😏
Today, you can pop over to ChatGPT, ask it a question, and the “best” answer is served to you in seconds.
No research necessary.
With OpenAI’s popularity soaring past 100 million users faster than any app or platform ever and its users a prime audience for independent school marketers, it’s time to start paying attention to how you’re being “talked about” on the platform.
Bottomline: What ChatGPT says about your school will affect enrollment.
Let’s start by looking at what a prospect’s interaction might look like using ChatGPT and how that may affect their desire to inquire, apply and enroll if accepted. Then, we’ll dive into how you can improve your school’s brand presence on it and other AI platforms.
A potential ChatGPT independent school search
Once parents get the hang of OpenAI searching, they’ll ask questions like…
A good time for a disclaimer: Truth Tree does not work with any of the schools listed or mentioned in this piece (But if your school is mentioned and you’re interested in our services, let’s talk 😉).
When it comes to finding the right school, discerning parents are going to go deeper (I hope) than an AI-generated list of schools.
But take a look at it again. While ChatGPT provided a few caveats, how powerful is it that it ranked the top five instead of listing them in paragraph form?
After discovering a school, prospects’ next move is to read those juicy reviews. But wait! Instead of reading them all, why not ask ChatGPT to summarize them?
So that’s what I did.
I chose one of the schools on the list above and asked ChatGPT to summarize the positive reviews and then the negative ones.
Here’s a quick summary of that summary:
- Positives: students are well-prepped for college, academic rigor, a lot of activities, and a positive community feel
- Negatives: Social and academic pressure, not diverse, donors’ kids get special treatment
That’s where I stopped, but this back-and-forth with ChatGPT will continue until the prospect is ready to connect with the school or move on to researching another one.
Where does ChatGPT get its information?
These are the sites ChatGPT pulled from to rank the schools in Texas:
- Private School Review* (www.privateschoolreview.com)
- Niche (www.niche.com)
- U.S. News & World Report (www.usnews.com/education)
- The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (www.tapps.net)
- GreatSchools (www.greatschools.org)
From the sites above, ChatGPT looks at rankings, total reviews, the average of the reviews, freshness of information, and consistency of information.
Beyond those websites, it considers total mentions online, the content of those messages, whether produced by you or someone else, social platform accounts and their activity, and organic searchability, among other factors.
How can you improve your chance of being a “top” school on ChatGPT?
For now, ChatGPT can only draw information through September 2021. That means you’ve got time to better position your brand to be, frankly, whatever it is you want it to be when it updates its knowledge base.
So, ask yourself: What question(s) do you want your school to be the answer to?
To help your school be that answer, here are some tips.
Optimize All of “You” Online: Start with your top marketing asset: your school’s website. Ensure the messaging is very clear, including where you’re located, who you serve, and the type of education you provide students. Then put that same exact information on every website, webpage, social media platform, and app under the sun. The more you say it, the more ChatGPT will hear it.
Leverage Success Stories: The keyword here is stories. In addition to current students and recent grads, focus on the experiences of exceptional faculty members, their qualifications, and their dedication to their craft. Tout alums and make sure if you have famous ones, your school’s hyperlinked name appears in their Wikipedia bio.
Keep the Reviews Coming: Beyond the obvious sites, encourage students, parents, and alums to provide positive feedback about your school on lesser-known review sites like School Digger or Schola. More positive feedback can influence AI algorithms and impact your school’s ranking on ChatGPT and other similar platforms.
Collaborate with AI Developers: ChatGPT is just the start, and unless you have someone on staff who’s on the AI cutting-edge, you need to know what’s coming down the line. The tips above this one will change, so as AI-specific school searching evolves, you need someone who knows how to keep you relevant and well-regarded.
A big part of enrollment marketing will hinge on your ability to be the answer to those questions prospective families will ask ChatGPT and similar platforms.
That’s why now is the time to position your school’s brand so when ChatGPT does update its knowledge base, your school will be the answer to questions asked by best-fit families who want to enroll at your school.
At Truth Tree, we are constantly looking for ways to innovate our offerings to help parents discover and pursue the best-fit schools for their children.
If you’d like more information about our award-winning digital marketing services for schools, including AI optimization, reach out to learn more.