Increasing Engagement in the High School Student Community

Remember yourself in your school graduating class? Academic workload, preparation for final exams, unstable hormones, fear of the future, parental pressure, and the difficult choice of profession. Our community is a place where high school students come to share their fears, communicate with like-minded people, ask questions, and get information and support.

July 2019
ER Reach
ER Followers
85 407
December 2019
ER Reach
ER Followers
91 034
Combining expert, verified information and an easy, confident attitude toward the difficult period of life. This solves two business tasks:

1. More schoolchildren will come to educational exhibitions, which the client organizes twice a year in 18 cities in Russia. At the exhibition, you can communicate with university employees, learn tips for getting high exam scores, choose a training program, and undergo career guidance. The friendly and expert atmosphere of the online community carries over to the offline.

2. Universities become advertising partners of the community.
The loyalty of followers was measured using quantitative KPIs: likes, comments, reposts, and engagement rate. I was faced with the task of increasing these metrics in the VKontakte community.
Project Feature
It was important to maintain a balance between entertaining and expert content.

It's easy to cheer up high school students using tough, modern teenage humor. But in this case, there are risks to the reputation of education experts.

Aggregating expert information about specialties, professions, and universities is also easy. But there is a risk of becoming just another boring group that brings melancholy to already tired high school students.

Therefore, it was important to publish content that appeals to both university representatives and schoolchildren who want to have fun.
What helped improve ER?
1. Posts about celebrities
In this section, I talked about the education and career paths of famous people in Russia, such as Olya Buzova, Nurlan Saburov, Vladimir Putin, Alexander Gudkov, etc. I chose those celebrities whom schoolchildren know and who have received higher education (so some fashionable rappers and TikTok bloggers were not suitable).
The post about Olya Buzova went viral and received 531,000 organic views.

In addition to liking the posts themselves, users also liked each other’s comments.

2. Posts for comments
Posts with activities on the final exam topic received high engagement. It sometimes required additional moderation to remove obscene comments, but such posts received more comments than usual.

Examples of activities:
1. Replace any word in the movie title with “Unified State Exam”.
2. Leave in the comments a song for being sad about the Unified State Exam.
3. Fortune telling from a book: find out what awaits you during the Unified State Exam.
3. Memes
Memes allowed to increase the number of likes. To reduce reputational risks, I did not use memes with obscene language; insulting parents and teachers; or too demotivating memes; or political memes.
4. Polls
Posts describing specialties and professions are the most useful and expert ones. This is the information that schoolchildren seek most often. But such posts get few likes. To increase the ER of such posts, I periodically added polls to them.
1. “Are you a conflict-ridden person?” to the post about the specialty of conflict management.

2. “What is your favorite New Year's food?” to the post with a selection of confectionery professions.

3. “What do you pay attention to when choosing a university?”

4. “Is 510,000 rubles for a year of study expensive for MGIMO?”

5. Humor
To combine expertise and humor, as well as to reduce tension and stress among high school students, I published ironic posts.
1. A selection of professions for esotericism lovers: what to become if you love anti-scientific fairy tales.

2. A selection of tips for “relaxing” during the New Year holidays: listen to an audio textbook while skating, play board games to solve Unified State Exam tasks, solve problems with a ski stick in the snow, etc.

3. Who should I become if I love cats?

6. "Magic pills" and instructions
Both high school students, parents, and universities like structured posts: selections, tops, ratings, checklists, and instructions, even if they are simple and obvious.

1. 8 ways to calm down before exams.

2. What to study so that it will be useful in your career?

3. Instructions for submitting documents to the university.

7. Ironic Comments
Another way to increase engagement is to work with comments. Comments on behalf of the group received additional likes, especially if they were ironic responses to negative comments. Such answers bring us closer to the audience and let schoolchildren understand that we are not boring adults, but experts who want to help and who understand their problems.
8. Posts on request
Previously, post topics suggested by community members were simply included in the content plan. I started tagging the users who asked to prepare this or that post.

The advantages of such tags:
- the user will not miss a post that is important to him and, most likely, will leave a comment with gratitude.
- other followers see that we listen to the audience's wishes and they suggest topics more actively. Engagement grows, and the shortage of content ideas decreases.

As a result, we managed to achieve an increase in the engagement rate (ER) from the coverage of subscribers:
July: 2.06%
August: 5.4%
September: 6.9%
October: 7.2%
November: 9.4%
December: 9.15%

ER from reach increased from 1.17% in July to 3.44% in December.
Simply providing useful information is a mistake that many expert communities make. The psychological aspects of the content are no less important. They retain an audience that will want to use the company’s services again and again. By publishing only useful expert content, audiences will turn to a community like Wikipedia - only when there is a pressing problem. If you combine expert benefits with a friendly, understanding atmosphere, the audience will turn to the community as a club of interests - in this case, the level of trust and frequency of contact with the community increases. This means there are more opportunities to sell your services.

To do this you need to take three steps:
1. Understand what kind of humor is close to the audience
2. Understand the psychological components of the problem.
For example, some people want to do well on the Unified State Exam to enter their dream university, while others want to not upset their parents. The task is the same, but the motivation is different.
3. Understanding psychological motives will help you create content that will resonate more. The audience perceives such content with the thought “They understand me.”
Diana Burt
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