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Five Techniques to Find New Fans and Followers on Social Media

socialmedia2According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 75% of online adults use social media personally, and increasingly, familiarity with social networking sites is wrapped into our professional, on-the-job responsibilities as well. We are constantly liking, sharing and posting content to our personal social media platforms, but we recognize that what we can “get away with” on a personal profile differs from what we define and follow as best practices for a professional brand page.

The difference can leave you wondering … well … what exactly you’re supposed to be doing with those brand pages, and what short-and-long-term success looks like.

The difference between personal and professional use of social media raises key questions for social media managers: “How am I supposed to build a following in such a competitive landscape? How does my brand stand out from the rest? I know what I prefer to like, share and post on my own profiles, but what does my audience want? How do I engage them?”

If you’re asking these questions, you’re on the right track. That’s the good news. The better news? There is a handful of easy best practices that will get things moving while you figure out what your audience responds to. As communications pros who know how to leverage social media, the CB&A team offers these tips for making your brand stand out in the social media crowd:

  • Create relevant, diverse content. Your content has to resonate with users and be varied enough that it doesn’t look like you’re hammering away at the same message. Company news is great, but adding a bit of fun and humor to your page (e.g., a video that has been trending on Facebook all day) will net some share traffic, and humanize your brand voice. Customers also will find you via hashtags and industry keywords, so do some research and use the best ones for your brand.
  • Post regularly. It’s more likely your company will be seen, and your followers share, if you’re posting new content regularly and at peak times. Waiting too long between posts will divide your brand from your base and reduce engagement, resulting in a long-term loss of followers as you disappear from their timelines. Develop a consistent strategy for what to post, and when.
  • Be “human” on social media. Positive interactions are key to building a following, so when someone engages with your brand, be genuine in your response. Creating brand content that is 80 percent professional and 20 percent personal will endow your page with a warm, human voice, one that commands attention in your industry.
  • Sharing is caring. It’s called social media, so be social! Start by following the companies and people relevant to your brand, and like/share posts that are relevant to your audience. These efforts will nurture good relationships over time and lead to more followers. Remember, engaged followers are the best followers. They are more likely to share your content and brand name with a new audience, so return the favor. Positive engagement will bring in more followers than you had anticipated.
  • Build a cohesive network. Link your social media networks and create a space on your website for all social media platforms. This heightened visibility will entice more people to view your page or product, increasing brand awareness and follower counts. And be sure to cross-promote content among your various audiences. That might lure some of your Facebook followers to Twitter, for example, creating a more consistent follower base.

Create good content, track posts, followers and engagements, and most important, don’t overthink it. Start small with these five timely tips and watch your social media engagement grow.

How will you engage your followers and stand out from the social media crowd? Leave us your thoughts below.

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Photo: Google, http://ow.ly/RlZzI 

People Behind the PR: Kelsea Kierstead

CB&A is an agency that values its team, and we hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the people behind the PR.

Blog photoDog or cat person? Definitely dog. I’m allergic to cats. 

Early riser or night owl? Earlier riser, but I always take coffee. 

Best PR advice you can fit inside a Tweet? Never forget that a pitch is someone’s story you're telling. 

Number one song played on your iPod? Unwritten by Natasha Beddingfield. In my defense, my iPod is extremely outdated. 

What would be your last meal on Earth? Any home-cooked meal from my mom with dessert of course. 

If you weren't in PR, what would you be doing? Directing or scripting the Animal Planet show, Too Cute. 

What is the first meal you learned to cook? Grilled cheese. And I still have only a 50 percent success rate. 

Favorite candy? Chocolate truffles. But I’d settle for a Kit Kat.

Favorite movie? Finding Nemo. 

If you could have one super power, what would it be? One too many road trips has me wishing I could aparate. 

Best vacation you ever took? Family vacation to the Florida Keys. 

If you could have dinner with your favorite literary author or character, who would you choose? Susannah Cahalan, journalist and author of Brain on Fire. 

What was your favorite part of going to school at UW-Madison? I could never pick a favorite, but I’d say being able to see the Wisconsin Idea in action no matter where I went. 

Sessions to Watch – SXSWedu PanelPicker 2015

sxswedu logoDid you know more than 80 percent of the sessions at SXSWedu are fueled by its PanelPicker, meaning that the community has a large say in the programming of the event? This concept has proven to be extremely popular and beneficial for garnering the most compelling exhibitions at SXSW.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 2.53.39 PMStarting today, you have the chance to submit your vote for your favorite education PanelPicker proposal. The public vote accounts for 30 percent of the overall weight of the chosen submissions. With more than 42 countries represented at the conference, and many of the presentations tackling hot topics in education, the sessions are guaranteed to cover a vast range of subjects and perspectives. There’s bound to be something for everyone! To get your search started, we’ve sifted through the submissions and created a list of those you should keep your eye on:

Creating a Trusted Learning Environment

Digital Equity Beyond the Classroom

Edu-gaming: money, morals and games in classrooms

Kids Coding The Curriculum

Linking Dropout Rates to Economic Recovery

LMS: Extreme Makeover

Silent Standards Powering an Ed-Tech Ecosystem

Social Robotics: Future of Autism Intervention

Think Outside the Book

Wired and Weird: Skills for Ed Tech Leaders

Why Your Learning Game Will Probably Suck

The voting for selecting this year’s PanelPicker ends Friday, September 4th.

Three New Clients Join the CB&A Roster

Back-to-school is right around the corner and as teachers get ready to greet students on the first day of classes, CB&A is similarly welcoming three new clients. Before the back-to-school rush is upon us, let’s find out how each organization helps students succeed.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 12.46.41 PMGraduation Alliance is focused on the goal of creating opportunities through the power of education. The organization’s innovative combination of technology and human support helps students stay on track to graduate with a high school diploma. Having a unique relationship among educators, economic development agencies and community leaders, Graduation Alliance provides versatile pathways to graduation while offering additional college and career exploration services, as well as connecting job creators to skilled workers.

MobyMaxLogoMobyMax develops interactive personalized learning curriculum for K-8 students. Students learn twice as fast with the only completely integrated curriculum covering reading, writing, vocabulary, language, math, fact fluency, number sense and science. MobyMax provides a complete solution with teacher assessment tools and real-time progress monitoring. Over 11 million students and half of all K-8 schools in the United States are learning with MobyMax.

Vibeffect-logo-72DPIvibeffect specializes in helping students identify where they’re most likely to thrive in college. Using science to influence the college decision-making process, vibeffect uses a groundbreaking framework with predictive analytics to deliver data-driven results geared toward families with aspiring college students. The system’s purpose is to ensure families base their college decisions on their child’s strengths and find the best college for the student’s academic, social and individual thriving needs.

We’re looking forward to starting the new school year by sharing stories about these new clients and their customers!

Using “Old School” Methods to Achieve Visibility Goals – Case Study

The Situation: CB&A’s client partnered with an international news organization to offer new higher education courses, and looked to gain visibility for the launch of its endeavor. The client’s goal was to attract media attention, especially in higher education trade outlets, and create an opportunity for future earned media placements.

The Results: Through formidable relationships with the media, CB&A sparked strong interest in its client’s new endeavor. Meticulous pre-planning enabled the CB&A team to deploy its media relations strategy quickly and secure same-day coverage, in addition to longer-form feature coverage throughout the following weeks.

Strategy & Media Outreach:

Maintaining strong rapport with writers at education publications was important to CB&A’s approach. Communication with key reporters and editors began long before the launch of this particular campaign, with some professional relationships being years in the making. Longstanding familiarity is integral when conducting high-profile, high-stakes media relations outreach.

To maximize opportunities for immediate coverage of the news, CB&A established a media relations schedule comprised of exclusive and “sneak peek” pitches. Due to the prominence of organizations involved with the initiative, the typical two- to three-day window for advance media pitching was condensed to less than 30 minutes on the day the news broke. CB&A mobilized its media relations plan swiftly, pitching top targets successfully via phone, email and social media. In less than an hour, CB&A began scheduling media interviews with all of the client’s most sought-after media outlets.

National education trade placements included:

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • EdSurge
  • Education Dive
  • Education Week’s Marketplace K-12
  • Inside Higher Ed
  • University Business

Outcomes:

The campaign netted more than 30 article placements in a wide range of U.S. news outlets. Earned media coverage produced more than 12 million impressions and reached over 5.5 million people. Throughout the campaign, CB&A relied on its strong network to reach client visibility goals. In cases of a sensitive time crunch, these tactics proved to be beneficial for the client and the CB&A team.

5 Strategies For Successful SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a considerable time investment, Search engine optimization (SEO)and you can’t expect to see results overnight. To get started, here are five strategies to put you on the path to SEO success.

There’s More Than One Kind of SEO 

SEO has become shorthand for various ways to increase your search engine ranking, but there is more than one kind of SEO. Particularly, there’s a difference between “High-End” SEO and “Search-Friendly” SEO.

Search-Friendly is a strategic, one-time adjustment to the messaging on your website that implements “high visibility” keywords and phrases that will draw searchers to your site. Search-Friendly SEO focuses on natural language and reading scores, favoring copy that is easy to read and not over-stuffed with keywords.

“High-End” SEO is based on an in-depth search engine credibility analysis of every phrase on your website. It’s an ongoing process that takes a customized approach to each targeted phrase, and helps your site build momentum over time. Expect to continue honing your keyword strategy as your campaign progresses.

Not Everyone Comes Organically

Just as there are multiple kinds of SEO, there are multiple ways to discover your website. The two major visitor categories are searchers and browsers. Browsers find your site organically through social media and links on other websites, while searchers have intent; they’re looking for specific companies, goods or services.

You don’t need us to tell you that a “searcher” is the more qualified lead by the time they find your site. Your website should utilize language that anticipates the terms searchers will use to locate your products or services.

It Doesn’t Happen Overnight

If you expect to secure the top spot in Google right away, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s just too much competition, and Google favors websites with authority. You can build that authority (and save a fortune in AdWords) by deploying search terms directed at more specialized audiences. As you rise in the PageRanks of those terms, you can employ more competitive keywords to increase your rank.

Go Mobile

Google’s latest update to its PageRank algorithm, nicknamed “Mobilegeddon” in the blogosphere, wasn’t as devastating to website traffic as previous updates, but the penalties for not abiding by the new guidelines are still pretty severe. If you’ve been thinking about optimizing your site for mobile devices, now is the time to take the plunge. No amount of keyword/SEO strategy will make up for a poorly optimized website.

SEO is Not a One-Time Tactic

SEO is a messy, complicated, strategic, ongoing process. Just because you reach your objectives at the end of a campaign doesn’t mean you stop pursuing your overall visibility goals. Google revises its algorithms regularly to prevent websites from “gaming” the ranking system. Stay on top of these changes through webinars, workshops, and blogs like ours. Adjust your strategy frequently to maintain, and build upon, your initial momentum.

Repackaging a Story to Appeal to Disparate Audiences – Case Study

Situation:

A client specializing in learning games sought to garner visibility of its new engineering game during a launch at an elementary school. By inviting local media to the school and conducting additional national media outreach, CB&A increased awareness of the game both locally and nationally.

Planning & Execution:

Two weeks before the client introduced its new product, CB&A invited local news outlets to the elementary school launch event. To supplement the invitation, CB&A sent a sneak peek of the game to a key group of local media interested in education news. During the launch, CB&A arranged onsite interviews between media and the client, and captured multimedia of students using the game. In the days following the event, CB&A distributed a news release about the product launch to local media and national education trade media. The distribution included multimedia assets captured during the school event. CB&A also used event photos in media pitching efforts during the weeks following the launch.

Results:

Through CB&A’s strategic media outreach, local media members attended the launch event and wrote about the new game. In addition to local coverage, national education trade media produced feature-story coverage about the product.

Specific Outcomes:

Local consumer media such as Wisconsin State Journal and Verona Press attended elementary school launch event. Wisconsin State Journal spotlighted the game in both print and online. As a result of additional media outreach and the news release distribution, prominent national education trade media also covered the game, including:

  • T.H.E. Journal
  • District Administration
  • Tech & Learning
  • EdNET Insight
  • Internet@Schools

All told, the earned media campaign netted more than 850,000 cumulative impressions in credible media outlets read by the client’s target audiences.

Summary:

This campaign highlighted the importance of repackaging stories and multimedia assets so they appeal to different targets. CB&A knew the product launch would interest both local consumer media and national education trade media, but the audiences required unique treatment. By understanding the media targets and end-users those targets served, CB&A was able to tailor its outreach and achieve results for the client.

People Behind the PR: Audra Johnson

CB&A is an agency that values its team, and we hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the people behind the PR.

Dog or cat person? Dog. audrappl

Early riser or night owl? Early riser. 

Best PR advice you can fit inside a Tweet? Leverage the resources & assets you already have at your disposal. 

Number one song played on your iPod? Mr. Brightside by The Killers.

What would be your last meal on Earth? Lobster Mac & Cheese.

If you weren't in PR, what would you be doing? Blog writer. 

What is the first meal your learned to cook? Mac & Cheese.

Favorite candy? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. 

Favorite movie? True Romance. 

If you could have one super power, what would it be? I would fly.

Best vacation you ever took? All four trips to New Orleans. 

If you could have dinner with your favorite literary author or character, who would you choose? Jane Austen. 

What was your favorite part of going to school at Purdue University? Finding the courage and self reliance I need to succeed in a situation where I'm not familiar with the people or the place. 

ISTE 2015 News Recap

It’s been a busy few weeks for the media, so we’ve compiled our clients’ news releases from ISTE 2015. Here you’ll find the information all in one place, including news, highlights, #edtech products and more:

Califone Launches Virtual School Starter Kit at ISTE 2015 califone_portfolio

To flourish in virtual or classroom learning environments, students need technology that is as mobile as they are. Califone International LLC, a leading audiovisual (AV) manufacturer of products used in education, released its Mobile Peripheral Pack at the ISTE 2015. The product is ideal for new virtual school students as the kit includes the company’s new Tablet Stand, 3068AV headphone and a KB4 Bluetooth® keyboard.

origoeducation_portfolioJohns Hopkins University Study Demonstrates Effectiveness of ORIGO Stepping Stones

Revealed this year at ISTE was a year-long study from Johns Hopkins University showing that ORIGO Stepping Stones helps students gain a deeper understanding of mathematics. An Ohio district used the K-5 mathematics curriculum as the main method of daily elementary math in all 11 of its schools. It then measured the impact on student achievement compared to students who did not use Stepping Stones. The results can be viewed by clicking here.

Knovation Announces Partnership with NWEA to Close Assessment-Instruction Loop knovation_portfolio

Knovation announced their partnership with Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) on Skills Navigator, the association’s newly released classroom assessment system, to help teachers support students with diverse needs and deliver personalized instruction. The vast collection of Open Educational Resources from Knovation will allow educators to select targeted, standards-aligned material after identifying which skills students need to learn or improve – effectively closing the assessment-instruction loop.

Learning.com Updates Digital Literacy Solutions for Upcoming School Year learningcom_portfolio

Learning.com announced updates to EasyTech and 21st Century Skills Assessment last week that focused on honing the skills that are critical for today’s students. These skills include giving students the tools to become technological problem solvers and creative innovators.

PA District Turns Students into Published Authors with Shutterfly  shutterfly_portfolio

Last week at ISTE, Shutterfly shared how a rural district turned students into published authors. A dozen teachers from Blairsville-Saltsburg School District, a western Pennsylvania district with 1,600 students in PreK-12, leveraged the Shutterfly iPad app for its districtwide literacy initiative.

School Security Spending Rises, K-12 Schools Turn to Visitor Management Software raptor_portfolio

Jim Vesterman, CEO of Raptor Technologies, was at ISTE 2015 to discuss and share insights about how districts are enhancing security with visitor management systems. As school spending for security systems continues to rise, schools are turning to visitor management software, like Raptor Technologies. This system ensures school buildings remain secure by screening visitors through a national database of registered sex offenders.

SIIA Releases Behind the Data Report Showing Shift in Online Course Definition siia_portfolio

The Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of SIIA released the 2015 Vision K-20 Educator Survey Report and the Behind the Data Report. The 2015 Vision K-20 Survey Report measures the progress toward technology and e-learning adoption, and the Behind the Data Report is an extension of ETIN’s annual vendor survey on the PreK-12 U.S. Education Technology Market.

Skyward Enhancements Support Affordable Care Act Regulations   skyward_portfolio

Beginning in 2016, districts may be fined for noncompliance or failure to report Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance regulations. Skyward announced new and enhanced resources available in its School Business Suite designed to help administrators plan, track and report data with confidence.

Wonder Workshop Releases Standards-Aligned Coding Curricula wonderworkshop_portfolio

Wonder Workshop announced the launch of standards-aligned, teacher-friendly curricula for Dash & Dot educational robots at ISTE 2015. These lesson plans are available through a new teachers’ portal, and cover core subject areas that are designed to make coding instruction more accessible for K-5 teachers. More than 300 schools have already introduced Dash & Dot into their classrooms to engage students in STEM and prepare them for a workforce that increasingly values coding skills.

Triumph Learning’s Waggle Surpasses 5 Million Personalized Recommendations triumphlearning_portfolio

Triumph Learning announced a significant milestone for Waggle, its smart practice solution, at ISTE 2015. The online learning platform generated more than 5 million personalized student recommendations to date. Integrated with Knewton adaptive learning technology, Waggle tailors learning pathways by analyzing in real time what students know and how they learn best. The platform also champions productive struggle by creating a safe, engaging space for students.

Read our ISTE Roundup and Reflection posts to learn more about ISTE 2015.

ISTE 2015 Reflection

Welcome to ISTE2015!

Welcome to ISTE 2015!

Every year, ISTE brings together tens of thousands of educators in a dynamic city to discuss trends and best practices in the education space. After weeks of preparation, CB&A unveiled BuzzHub, our new visibility event at ISTE 2015. After the big event, Charlene sat down to reflect on it:

C. Blohm & Associates (CB&A): What was something you found interesting at ISTE 2015?

Charlene Blohm (CB): “The focus groups we conducted with educators were particularly insightful. It was interesting to hear their feedback to our questions and give them a space where they could have a free exchange of opinions on all sorts of education topics. During this time, we learned about how and why certain things are done from a number of educators’ perspectives. We even had the chance to learn about small details like how to avoid being buried in email, and on a larger scale, the new, cool tools and apps teachers are using in the classroom. This was one of the highlights of the conference because we got to spend such invaluable time with educators.”

CB&A: What surprised you most at ISTE 2015?

Speed Meeting

Snapshot of Speed Meetings

CB: “ISTE has always been a packed few days, but I was surprised at how busy, active and positive the experience was. I was really pleased with how many vendors took the time to schedule meetings with educators. In addition to that, CB&A’s own scheduled media events such as the Speed Meetings afforded a great opportunity to six young startups to be introduced to the media. This connection between young companies and the media is a critical.”

CB&A: After attending ISTE, where do you see the next year in education going?

CB: “I think we will see an increase in blended learning and a spark of creativity and creative thinking in the classroom.”

CB&A: As a supplemental question to the one we just asked, where do special needs education fit into this?

CB: “The focus groups CB&A conducted reinforced the notion that educators teach students of all skills and physical abilities. This is continuing to help us understand what educators are doing to embrace adaptive learning technologies to be inclusive of all their students.”

CB&A: How did ISTE 2015 compare to ISTE 2014?

CB: “With nearly 21,000 registered attendees, this year ISTE was bigger. There were more activities in and around the trade show, and Philadelphia was a great host. The city was more than accommodating and the transportation was reliable.”

purelysocial

Folks mingling during #PurelySocial

CB&A: What was your favorite moment from ISTE 2015?

CB: “The ability to introduce friends to others at the #PurelySocial reception was really fun, as well as the opportunity to see old and new faces.”

CB&A: Was there anything you wish you had more time to do at ISTE?

CB: “There wasn’t nearly enough time spent on the trade show floor.”

CB&A: Any additional thoughts on ISTE 2015?

CB: “One of the things I really liked this year was having the meetings collocated. We hosted the SETDA Emerging Technologies Forum, ISTE Unplugged events and educators from state to local departments all in one place. This allowed the city to come alive by amplifying an already buzzing city in really exciting ways.”

To find out more about ISTE 2015, read our roundup here. We look forward to seeing everyone at ISTE 2016.