5 Ways to Reach Educators on Social Media

Opinion: Are you targeting teachers, administrators, parents or even students?

71 percent of educators surveyed said they visited Facebook in the past 30 days svetikd/iStock

Marketing to educators has become an increased focus among emerging education technology startups and enterprises. The potential within this market is extraordinary. TechCrunch noted that global investors put $8.15 billion into education technology in the first 10 months of 2017 to build out online education companies and applications.

While there is incredible opportunity, marketing these products and services to educators requires a significant amount of effort and careful planning. That’s because educators are essentially a niche audience with their own specific needs and challenges that you must take into account in your social media efforts.

Here are five ways you can tailor your efforts across social channels so that educators know you feel their pain and have the remedy:

Define the personas you are trying to reach

First, you must start with a very specific description of each audience segment. For example, are you trying to reach teachers, administrators, parents or even students? It matters.

Then, you need to drill down further: elementary school, middle school, high school, homeschool, trade school, professional education or institutions of higher learning.

You can break it down still more based on area of the country or on the demographics of those attending those educational institutions.

There may also be other factors that add detail to the personas so that you understand their motivations and can tailor your messaging.

And knowing what motivates your target audience’s behavior is the most important piece, explains Sandy Marsico, founder and CEO of brand experience agency Sandstorm Design. User-experience research can help organizations figure out why the educators they specifically want to reach do what they do, and those businesses can then adjust their approach accordingly.

Know where they go online

Part of tailoring your social outreach to educators is knowing when and where to talk to them. Look to see where teachers are online so you know where and when to publish the information that will engage them personally.

The 2017 Teachers as Consumers report found that 71 percent of educators surveyed said they visited Facebook in the past 30 days (compared with 55 percent of the overall population), while 35 percent reported using Pinterest in the past 30 days (compared with 15 percent of the overall population). Furthermore, 44 percent of educators reported wanting to purchase something after viewing an online ad. If you have a product or service to sell to educators, social media is clearly the place to connect with them.

Make your content shareable

According to Marta Oddone, marketing manager at Dun & Bradstreet’s MDR division, “The best part is that teachers often take conversations about what they see on social media—a digital break room, of sorts—to the real break room. They’re more than willing to share new lesson ideas, classroom tips, cool products and interesting stories they see on social media with other educators.”

There is also viral potential for parents and students to share content with their social circles based on their common challenges.

Find out what educators are looking for that becomes part of the larger conversation they are having with other educators, parents and students. You’ll want to craft content around these areas with direct reference to the key issues on their minds.

Look online at groups and pages where educators comment and study what they discuss. Also, stay dialed in to media outlets that report on education trends, like home-schooling issues that many families face and other traditional school issues that you can leverage in your content.

The more you can personalize it, the more responses you’ll get.

Consider the timing

While educators may be interested about what you have to offer them, there are certain periods that may be more ideal for catching their interest. For example, educators do much of their planning in the summer and receive their new budgets for the coming school year during this period. This is when key decisions are made about adding technology apps or other items to their curricula.

And it’s too late to connect on summer school options when the school year ends—prepare that messaging around the holidays, so that you can make a strong push for programs in the spring.

Likewise, offering holiday sales to power spring curricula needs to be top of mind at the beginning of the school year and ready to go before Thanksgiving hits. Educators are usually keen on planning ahead.

Use chat bots

It can take a lot of time to really understand what works for niche audiences like educators. To collect more information and provide an engaging, interactive dynamic to the tailored social outreach you deliver, chat bots are an ideal tool. They can collect the data you need to fine-tune your social media outreach.

Chat bots listen and learn quickly when they “talk” to people on social media. That information can be fed back into your content planning. It can also help you further develop your personas, as well as inform what days and times you publish.

The intelligence gathering and time savings chat bots provide can offer a significant return: It’s all about what you do with the data, and there’s lots of it available.

Educators are a social-media-savvy bunch, and they have extensive networks. They’re also pretty loyal to great resources. If you have a product or service to market to them, make sure you’re solving their pain points and telling them about it, and their word-of-mouth referrals will be the best promotional tool you have at your disposal.

@MaryCLong maryclong@digitalmediaghost.com Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.