Social media is an essential marketing tool for educational publishers. But the changing algorithms, rise and fall of new platforms, and overall nature of social media make some developers hesitant. In their edWebinar, “Social Media Marketing 2.0: Educators Love Social Media,” several education marketing insiders offered their perspectives on using social media with educators.
First, because educators continue to flock to social media, it should be part of every marketing plan, along with email and media relations. It may consist of organic messages as well targeted social media ad campaigns. The key is to know when using social media with educators should be the prime channel, and when it’s going to support other efforts.
For example, if the product is marketed directly to classroom teachers, then social media can be a primary focus of the campaign. If it’s an expensive product, like a district-wide adoption, or if it requires a long sales process from initial awareness to conversion, then social media becomes a lead nurturing tool instead of a lead generation tool.
Next, whether using social media with educators to nurture or generate leads, marketers need to determine what specific action they want customers to take. Is it visiting a specific web page, downloading a white paper, or possibly viewing a demo? Often, it’s best to start with a cornerstone piece of content, like that white paper or demo video, and repurpose the content. Stats, key findings, video frames, etc., can be turned into engaging posts that build awareness. More important, by sharing a sample of the information contained on a company’s website, customers are driven to click for more information.
Regarding the content of the posts, there are two areas to consider. To start, social media is inherently visual, yet many still post mainly text. Marketers should mix up visual content—images, animated GIFs, videos, infographics—with their copy. Second, the messaging should be a combination of both brand awareness and copy that’s broader, such as background info on a related topic that can help out busy teachers. If a company just focuses on sales messages, educators will tune out. Finally, asking brand evangelists to post messages about the product can cast a wider net. Support them with whatever they need to share their love of the materials.
For those just starting out with social media, all presenters advised that companies start small. Pick one platform that has a large cohort of viable prospective customers. Pay for some small ads, beginning with simple A/B testing, to find out what messaging works. Make sure the content is relevant to the customers’ needs and not just focused on sales. More important, don’t forget an explicit call to action that keeps the prospects engaging with the brand.
Lastly, while marketing teams do need to consider ROI, some of it won’t be exact. With organic messages, for instance, the team may just have a sense that there’s positive buzz about the company. But by including links to web pages, inviting users to download a paper or view a demo, or asking them to perform a concrete action, more specific analytics will be accessible. For more concrete goals, paid ads are probably the best choice, especially because of changing algorithms in social media. “Our current estimate is that about 5 percent of organic branded content is seen by the people you’re trying to reach because you’re a brand and not a family member…it’s really hard for you content to get out there,” says Charlene Blohm, President & CEO, C. Blohm & Associates. “The algorithm is changing, and there’s not much that you’re going to do. They’re not going to suddenly open it back up though, and have the unpaid content reach the same audiences that it has in the past.”
About the presenters
For more than 20 years, Jill Abbott has been a leader and visionary in education. She currently serves as the Sr. Vice President and Managing Director of the education division of SIIA. Most recently, she founded Abbott Advisor Group and focused on providing strategic planning and visioning and policy development for the role of educational technology in education innovation and transformation for federal and state governments, businesses, and non-profits. Previously, she was the CEO of Continuum Education, Associate Executive Director and COO for the SIF Association, eLearning Strategist and Education Liaison for the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio SchoolNet, Chief Learning Officer for para instructional designs, Regional Curriculum Director for 9 school districts, and a classroom teacher.
Charlene Blohm, President & CEO of C. Blohm & Associates, Inc. (CB&A), developed a passion for children and education early in her career. She’s spent nearly than 30 years in the communications and marketing fields promoting education, and is now one of the “go-to” people in the education, special needs and workforce development industries. Charlene’s biggest strength is her understanding of the bottom-line value in developing and implementing an integrated marketing approach, yielding the highest return for marketing and public relations investments.
For more than 30 years, David Grupper has been in the fields of art direction, communication, and marketing for education. He is currently the creative director and co-founder of Point Made Animation, a creative studio specializing in customized training, curriculum, and explainer video for the education industry. Prior to that, David was manager of publications and marketing for the ACLU and art director for Pace University. His earlier experience includes work for AAA, Best Western, Red Cross, Planned Parenthood, Gilda’s Club, many major hospitals and universities, including LIU, Yeshiva, Fordham and NYU. He has established and directed in-house design studios, conceived and developed capital campaigns, supervised photo shoots, and designed award-winning collateral material, advertising, direct mail and email marketing. David is co-author and illustrator of The Paper Shtetl, published by Schocken Books.
Lisa Schmucki is the founder and CEO of edWeb.net, an award-winning professional learning network that serves the global education community. edWeb helps educators share their best ideas and practices to improve teaching and learning, and prepare students to be successful in life. edWeb is free thanks to the support of education industry and policy leaders. Previously, Lisa held senior management positions in educational publishing and media. Lisa is a member of the board of the SIIA Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN). She is a graduate of Princeton University and works with the university on issues of undergraduate social life and community service. Lisa has a master’s degree from the Stern School of Business at NYU.
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