Five Ways to Engage Educators Over the Summer
06 July 2015
→ Tracy Dias, Team Leader, Emerging Sales, MDR
As the days get longer and temperatures rise, our thoughts turn to well-deserved vacation time. But while educators are planning and recharging for back-to-school, most education marketers have limited time for R&R.
In addition to fall plans, the changing nature of marketing requires conversations – those that don’t start and end when school is in session. The demographic shift in the educator population toward those that grew up with the Internet means they are always connected and are continuing to engage in the social places they frequent throughout the year. This “always on” behavior presents a big opportunity for marketers who previously only had some home addresses or emails as a way of connecting with educators during the summer months. Digital media makes summertime engagement possible!
We all know that teachers never really stop planning, teaching, or evaluating. Summer is a great time to show how you can help by fostering relationships with educators and cultivating your brand’s value with a focus on content that will make their job easier come September.
Here are five great ways you can engage educators over the summer:
Web and social advertising should be viewed as one integral component of a marketing campaign. All marketers need a foundation, and digital advertising helps establish that base. Targeted digital advertising allows you to reach educators online over the summer wherever they are, even if they’re not on education-oriented sites. Branding ads that appear wherever your target audience surfs can keep your name and message top of mind with educators even when they are off-duty. As a matter of fact, a recent accredited program for learning boasted a 300% increase for program registrants when they added MDR’s Amplifier to the trigger email programs; we’re now talking about how to add some video content to continue the engagement!
Keep communicating through all of your social channels throughout the summer so that you’re maintaining a constant presence. Social attention is precious, and you don’t want to lose it by going radio silent. This applies to both outbound posting on all the channels you normally use, as well as to responding to audience posts. Unanswered posts—whether they are good, bad, or indifferent in tone—tell your audience that your brand doesn’t care and are a fast way to lose interest and followers. A response is imperative and creates opportunities to convert mild interest into brand advocacy. 50% of teachers use social media in some way, and that number is only growing. Going off of this, we have found our best social campaigns are when there was a rich digital dialogue between educators and our clients.
Educators are sophisticated consumers of media who are beginning to tune out strictly promotional messaging. Relevant, useful content does capture their attention (i.e., “ways to use games to increase math student engagement” versus “25% OFF, ORDER NOW!”). The summer is also a great time to explore new ways of generating content, including user-generated content like testimonials, or other interactive content like videos and infographics. My team spends a lot of time working with clients on the best ways to leverage content for their campaigns—actually, it is the heart of most of their discussions. To strengthen the impact of content, many of our clients runs their campaigns through WeAreTeachers, where content is developed by our team members who have such a rich industry connection. Content IS king, but when it’s co-branded by a well-respected voice, it becomes the emperor!
At the beginning of the school year, educators spend a lot of time putting together their curriculum for the year. Free resources that help that and make their job easier are always welcome and help to build brand appreciation and loyalty. Teachers are one of the “sharingest” online populations, so a good turn in the form of free resources will get their attention, and they will happily spread the word. A teacher’s endorsement holds a lot of credibility with other teachers and has shown spikes in conversions through referrals, especially for one professional development client.
It’s likely your organization is filled with education experts and boosters. Social selling brings those people into the social conversation with the education community. As they create a brand for themselves, they reinforce and expand the reach of your brand as a whole. It’s another way to influence and share with your audience things that are relevant to them. We recommend an approach that is more curation than creation of content. Our rule of thumb is: One post a week that is tied to some content that your brand created, three to four posts on relevant content that comes from outside your organization, another post on a subject matter related to the poster’s expertise and, finally, something that shows their personality, outside interests, and point of view.
People are beginning to use LinkedIn and such as digital business cards. One clever edtech client took LinkedIn a step further and took one WeAreTeachers blog post and found “snackable bites” to share with the sales team to use on LinkedIn and Twitter. One of these posts led to a full conversation with school admins, proving that social media is more than just frill.
Even in the education world, marketing is a year-round job. 50% of teachers today are digital natives—with that percentage only increasing—meaning they are much more accessible on their devices throughout the full calendar year. Goodwill and a sense of community have built a groundswell of advocates for the award-winning WeAreTeachers online community. MDR’s comprehensive, best-of-breed education database has built Amplifier’s digital outreach and success for clients in their campaigns. When it comes to connecting with educators, MDR has the most experience, the best data, and the most creative solutions to integrate your education marketing and help build your brand.
Tracy Dias is a dynamic sales leader whose emphasis on “the digital conversation” with clients yields strong results. Her team develops end-to-end marketing programs for clients to execute on branding initiatives, lead generation and product launches. She focuses on integrated, digital marketing programs that include campaigns executed with a mix of social media, targeted display ads, email and lead nurturing. Tracy’s in-depth knowledge of the marketing mix comes from her prior position as Marketing and Sales Manager at MDR. There, she built and managed successful lead generation programs for tradeshows, webinars, product demonstrations, and customer reactivation campaigns. During that time she also instituted a customer on-boarding program and worked closely with inside sales team in the follow-up on customer leads and upsell opportunities to facilitate deal closures.