October 29, 2021 | Amy Rambo
Waves of change are crashing over the K-12 education field. And it’s not just the booming EdTech demand that grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. More teachers are retiring, skewing educator demographics younger – and toward new platforms that will determine which education marketing firms will deliver the messaging, products and services that will ultimately shape the classrooms of tomorrow.
Social media marketing is an opportunity to reach educators, and go beyond the classroom. Teachers are often influencers, decision-makers and purchasers of the tools for new learning models, and those positive brand effects ripple through students to their families. A single high school instructor’s purchase can create impressions with hundreds of students with implications for their family’s spending habits, as well.
According to a 2019 Gallup study, 58% of teachers get input about digital learning tools from social media, and 43% reported buying those digital tools with their own money. Students are eager to use them outside class, too, with 69% of elementary students wanting to use digital learning tools more often at home.
A marketplace of ideas first
Facebook is the most popular platform for teachers, with 84% reporting usage, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best option for marketers. Pinterest provides a visually striking, focused channel for idea seekers, with more than 500,000 education pins saved every day. The microportal Pinterest for Teachers has more than 169,000 followers looking for the best content and solutions, from crafts to apps. And Pinterest demographic algorithms let marketers target specific age groups, genders, locations or languages.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health highlighted the importance of Instagram and other platforms in the daily lives of educators looking for inspiration, support and concrete solutions. "Instagram has completely changed my classroom and my outlook as an educator. I can point to any area of my classroom and cite a resource, center, display, or other educational tool recommended or created by an Insta-friend," said one elementary school teacher surveyed.
Thanks to others in their field, teachers are used to making actionable decisions by clicking to download and swiping up to shop other places on social, too. Instagram is a popular destination for “teacherpreneurship,” with a bustling marketplace of both K-12 and postsecondary innovators promoting their products for a profit on the site.
Keep in mind that teachers, just like other users, use different social platforms for different reasons, both emotional and practical: Twitter for news and public discussion, Reddit for anonymous commiseration and no-holds-barred opinions, Facebook for personal interaction within groups and between friends, Pinterest for ideas paired with concrete tools like tutorials, and Instagram for trends and visual inspiration.
How to use social media in education
Once you’ve found the teachers you want to reach on social, what do you say? It’s important to speak their language, so do your research on trends, terminology and what educators are facing. Educators often feel unheard in the public space and respect the advice of their peers, so use quotes and customer testimonials to make your point. Social media allows for the use of short video to show off what differentiates K-12 products, especially digital solutions.
Traditionally, educators are more enthusiastic about businesses that are hooked into their communities, from the local to state level. Marketers succeed when they present companies as allies to educators and children beyond the buy-sell relationship. If your firm participates in philanthropy or advocacy for the K-12 market, keep that information front and center.
Social platforms are inherently less formal and more interactive than direct mail, email or even other digital channels. Combined with the strong ties between emotional rewards and career satisfaction for educators, social messaging presents a unique opportunity to spark conversations and gain valuable insights with posts and content that aren’t always focused on sales. Take the opportunity for your brand to tell stories, share successes and remind teachers that while education is important, it’s supposed to be fun, too.
Most importantly, have a plan for your social media marketing. Don’t just post whenever the mood strikes. Figure out an intentional strategy and work up a content calendar. Make sure your brand voice is well established and consistent, and give posters and content creators concrete direction on language, hashtags and timing. Social marketers spend time following competitors, influencers and thought leaders because they gain priceless insight that complements automated analytics that reveal what’s working in terms of engagement.
Just one piece of the puzzle
Social media marketing can add new dimensions to your company’s sales efforts, but it’s just one component of brand awareness. Email and direct mail follow-ups featuring offers and additional content often resonate with teachers who’ve shown interest on social. Brands reaching out to teachers directly to reinforce their social presence can get more granular with their specific audiences. It’s vital to start with the best data possible to ensure your message hits home. MCH’s market-leading K-12 database has the deepest education coverage you’ll find anywhere, with more than 6 million contacts and 5 million-plus educator emails, and powerful filtering that lets you keep your focus tight.
We're staffed with education marketing experts who’ve been doing this for decades. Reach out today for a personal consultation to help you leverage our game-changing data, integration and deployment offerings.
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