Social Media: The New Form of Marketing
Recently, I attended the SIIA EdTech Summit in San Francisco, CA, the nation’s leading education technology conference. Leaders of edtech companies came from around the country to network, attend keynote speeches, participate in panel discussions and focus groups, and enjoy the annual CODIE Awards. The theme of this year’s conference was Bridging K-12 and Postsecondary, so the agenda addressed transitioning and leveraging edtech businesses from one marketplace to another.
One particular panel discussion that I thought was extremely relevant for the edtech companies in attendance was entitled Using Social Media Marketing to Connect with Customers and Increase Sales. The following is a brief summary of the session:
Program Description: You’ve been told Social Media is a must, but where should you start? This session will help you determine what social networks are best for your company, how to incorporate them into your overall marketing strategy, and how to get the best results for your efforts. Hear from several companies who will share their best practices for K-12 and higher education. Whether you tweet, blog or just want to attract and retain more customers to your website, learn why social media needs to be an integral part of your sales/marketing strategy.
Glen McCandless, President, Focus Marketing
Mrs. Brandi Heinz Brown, Social Media and E-commerce Manager, ETA Hand2Mind
The goal of this session was to have these panelists address two important questions:
1. Why should edtech companies use social media?
2. What social media networks should edtech companies use?
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is an important investment that edtech companies should take advantage of, for it offers the following benefits:
• Personifies and humanizes your brand
• Direct and instant interaction with users
• Revenue-generating possibilities
• Great opportunity to listen to your customers
• Ability to communicate to a mass amount of people
• Increases customer engagement
• Receive instant feedback
• Learn customer preferences
• Low cost
• Brand building
• Market research (i.e. find out what’s working and what isn’t, trends, patterns)
• Credibility of the “crowd”
• Great lead generation
• Customer service
• Engage with a variety of stakeholders (e.g. policy makers, thought leaders, school administration, educators, students, parents)
There are a variety of SMM platforms that edtech companies can take advantage of:
• Twitter (popular education hashtags include #edchat, #edtech, #tlchat, #teacher, #education)
• Teacher websites (EduPln, Classroom 2.0, EdWeb, WeAreTeachers, WeTheTeachers)
• Ning Communities
It is very important to make sure that your company goals, content, target audience, budget, and resources align to the type of SMM you are utilizing. Before you settle on which particular SMM platform to enlist, be sure to complete these steps:
• Define your goals for using SMM
• Define your target audience
• Research your different SMM options
• Assess the cost and resources required to use each (e.g. staff, advertising, external fees)
• Outline your overall strategy (e.g. development, implementation, ongoing content creation, management, tracking, ROI)
The Rule of Thumb when it comes to implementing a SMM campaign is “30-30-40.”
Spend 30% of the your time strategizing, 30% creating content, and 40% promoting the content across the various channels. Once you get better, you will be able to graduate to a “20-20-60” strategy. In general, though, you should assign the creation, promotion, and management of SMM to at least one person at the company, who’s part-time or full-time job it is to execute a successful campaign.