“Social networks can be used to provide educators with career-long personal learning tools and resources that make professional learning timely and relevant, as well as an ongoing activity that continually improves practice and evolves their skills over time.” – National Ed Tech Plan 2010
Earlier this month, the Software & Information Industry Association hosted the “Social Media Marketing in Education” webcast, which highlighted the use and integration of social media in education companies’ sales and marketing plans.
Stemming from an online survey conducted in February, participants answered several questions related to their knowledge, use, and implementation of social media channels as part of their overall marketing efforts. More specifically, the questions honed in on how respondents use specific tools to build their brand, reach key audiences, and garner feedback.
Looking at the final data, 35 percent of companies surveyed felt they have a social media strategy and plan, while 35 percent believed they are using social media, but don’t have a clearly defined strategy or plan. Most of the remaining participants responded that they were working toward social media use.
For those in the research and development phases, one of the challenges they faced was, “convincing higher-ups to take a risk on a content marketing strategy.” It’s important to remind senior-level executives to measure more than one metric – not just growth in numbers of followers or fans. Social media is about sharing content, engaging customers, and building relationships. As the report says, “Social media requires that you give in order to receive.” Therefore, illustrate what the expected ROI will look like so management can recognize success as it happens.
Of those actively using social media, participants responded that the most effective use of social media was to build brand awareness, followed by building customer loyalty and creating customer user and support groups. The least effective use was to inform product development and generate new leads. Finally, all respondents indicated that webinars are the most effective tool as part of their company’s current marketing program, followed by Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.
When generating content, the panelists reminded webcast attendees that listening to the customer, not just pushing out information, is how social media plays a large, helpful role in conjunction with other marketing efforts. Rather than immediately focusing on the ROI, shift your focus to generating content and establishing resources for network management. Once you’ve solidified a strategy, start focusing on ROI – what and how will you measure efforts?
Additionally, make your customers/members and prospects feel like part of a community – engage them in conversation and encourage extended discussion via your company’s social channels. Aside from generating conversations, inventory existing content and determine what can be repurposed. Marketing materials, such as case studies, white papers, etc., can be easily disseminated through your social networks.
If you’ve already developed your social strategy, what tools have you found most effective and for what tactics? What advice would you give those still establishing a social media marketing plan?