New to educator social media marketing? These 6 steps can help you get started

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking…”Another post on social media marketing to educators and why I need to be doing it.”  You’re right! Seriously though, you need to be doing it.  I still am shocked at the number of brands who are missing out on reaching teachers, schools and families via social channels.  It just shocks me!

We STILL receive a ton of questions from clients related to social media marketing. They want to know if it is effective, which channels to use, and what teachers like. Why is social media marketing important for you as an marketer? Because educators are spending a lot of time on social media talking about brands (good and bad!), engaging with brands and influencing brands.  Are you one of them?

meme-social-mediaThough it may feel like we’ve been seeing those “Hey Girl” and condescending Wonka memes our entire lives, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that social media as we know it only is only about 20 years old. As the new kid in town, social media is still proving itself as a viable marketing channel. It’s definitely got the chops. Still, it’s important to acknowledge that some of the aspects of social media that make it so dynamic – direct connection with a large audience in real time – can also make it challenging from a marketing perspective.

Effective social media marketing can help you reach educators and establish a positive image for your brand. It can help you understand and engage with them, identify super users and influencers, become a thought leader, and ultimately sell your products. But it doesn’t happen without planning – platform, resource, messaging, targeting, timing/etc. Great social media marketing is not an afterthought.

If your social media marketing game is a bit more haphazard than you’d like, here are several basic steps to help you tighten your focus.

1) Establish goals. It’s a bit surprising just how many brands “wing it” on social media.

The reality is that you cannot be successful on social media until you have defined what success looks like for you. Social media can help you drive brand awareness and thought leadership, support your marketing initiatives, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, and build your own community around your brand. Just know that these things rarely happen by accident. Great social marketing requires a strategy, a budget, and someone who “owns” it. Even if staff and budget are slim, devoting some time and energy is better than none. And you can always enlist contractors and partners outside your organization to help.

2) Listen and learn.

What organizations or brands are making a positive impact with your educator audience? What content is resonating with teachers and administrators? Check out the social media pages of established thought leaders and well-known brands in your space. Find the trending content and read the comments to learn what educators care about, their challenges and problems, and what is getting traction. Identify those problems you can help them solve.

3) Determine which network(s) are best for your brand.

Each social platform has a different specialty. Each one can help you create and express your brand personality. You may use different networks to link to the same content. Just remember to craft the posts so they are appropriate for each network.

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network with 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide, and it is most popular among educators as well. It is a visual network that fosters conversation – friendly, collaborative, personal. Educators use it to connect with other educators and friends, have a laugh, and find links to quality content. Photos and videos get a lot of attention on Facebook.

Twitter has 326 million monthly active users. It is topical, current, and brief. Educators use Twitter to find out what’s trending, check in with thought leaders and influencers, for professional development, networking and to build their own communities. Hashtags act as a directory to categorize content, and help increase engagement and SEO.

Pinterest has 250 million monthly active users, and is extremely popular with teachers. Teachers use Pinterest to get inspiration, organize their own ideas, download or swap lesson plans, collaborate with other educators, find tutorials and other training materials, or just for enjoyment. Content is evergreen.

Instagram is the second most popular social platform with 1 billion active monthly users. Instagram has taken sharing visual content to the next level with engaging filters and the Boomerang video app. Instagram allows you to spotlight your brand in way that’s fun and unexpected. Like Twitter, Instagram relies on hashtags to sort content, as well as to drive engagement and SEO.

4) Create content that speaks to educators.

There’s a place for self-promotion, but it’s not on social media. Educators are drawn to content that is relevant to them. Share content that provides value. There are lots of options. You may want to post articles that solve a classroom challenge, or share steps for achieving some sort of a goal. You can create short videos demonstrating lessons, experiments, crafts, or classroom decorating ideas. Post lesson plans, or downloadable posters or worksheets. Put your own spin on a link to relevant found content. Post a funny or inspirational video that ties into your brand messaging. Have fun with it – the sky is the limit!

5) Be consistent.

To build a community of engaged users, you have to post content regularly. Posting every day is ideal, but if your resources are strapped, you can build up to that level. It’s also important to create a calendar, and when possible schedule posts in advance. That way you can be sure your posts are in sync with the school year, holidays, annual events, and your own sales and marketing calendar.

6) Measure your results.

You can’t chart your progress toward your goals unless you measure your results. We suggest investing in a social media analytical tool to help you review your posts, compare the data, and use that information to inform your social marketing plan. Our team loves Sprout Social. HootSuite is great for both analytics and scheduling posts. Google Analytics has a free version that’s a good place to start and can be upgraded. There are lots of options so consider what is important to you – budget, flexibility across platforms, integration capabilities, etc. – when making your choice.

Good social media marketing to educators doesn’t happen by accident. To build your brand presence and community online, you’ll need a thoughtful strategy and a deft touch. To learn more about what your audience finds engaging, check out what your competitors, peers, and other relevant thought leaders are doing. Then create irresistible content to attract and engage followers. Grow your presence through regular posts, using analytical tools to evaluate your progress. Use what you’ve learned from each campaign to inform the campaign that follows. This is the foundation you’ll use to build your community and your brand.

As always, we want to be a resource for you. If you’re looking for ideas to help you establish thought leadership, grow brand awareness, drive web traffic, increase engagement, grow your community, and generate leads, check out our new MDR Media Kit.