Gain Insight Through Social Networks
Most schools and colleges who use social media are mainly interested in cranking out as much content as possible and getting ‘eyeballs’ for it. Smart organisations know that social networking is not a one-way lecture, but a means of building relationships with your target audience. It is not about eyeballs, but engagement, with website visitors and followers on social media taking the actions you wish them to.
As part of driving learner, parent and employer engagement, it can also be about using what you learn while monitoring the social networks to underpin all your marketing decisions.
Niche marketing online
One of the reasons online marketing has been so successful is because it allows unprecedented access to those interested in your niche/industry. Instead of scattershot marketing such as broadcast advertising, which is not very precise, niche marketing can be conducted through topic-related discussion boards, forums, and social site groups.
In this way you can discover the answers to all-important marketing questions such as:
* What does my target market care about?
* What are the most common ‘pain points’ of those interested in my niche?
* What is trending in relation to my niche?
* What trends are driving engagement?
* Who are my main competitors?
* How does my organisation differ?
* What social media marketing efforts on their part might be worth imitating?
Engagement, not eyeballs
Niche marketing is like fishing in a well-stocked pond. You know your quarry is in there; you just have to come up with the right bait to get them to nibble. All of your social efforts can be the bait, showing that you have the answers they need and are worth doing business with.
Engagement can take a range of forms. It is up to you to create the opportunities to engage with you and monitor the results. For example, if you want to add more people to your email marketing list, create a special-report or display apprenticeship vacancies, and then announce it to your list. Monitor how many new subscribers you get.
To get insight about building brand and increasing reach, create content that is so compelling that your followers will be willing to share it with other people they know, who are also interested in your niche.
In terms of advertising, track your click-through rate and engagement in taking the action you are expecting. Facebook and Twitter advertising is a lot more targeted than Google AdWords. It is a lot cheaper too.
Riding the trends
Another important reason to monitor social media sites is to see what is trending. You don’t need to try to be topical in all of your postings, but if there is a chance to tie in your courses with breaking news or a hot topic, it might be worth a try. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr will all show you listings of what’s most searched for or engaged with. Join in the conversation in a helpful manner and see how much exposure you and your brand can get.
The power of social search
One of the most important reasons to monitor your social network activity is to discover who is finding you through social search. That is, searches within the network, not via search engines like Google. Social search is important because it will lead to your account and to groups. You have to be active in the network to be discovered, but once you’ve created your account, you will be amazed at how much traffic you can drive through free and paid means.
Monitor not just eyeballs but engagement, and see what a difference it can make to your marketing efforts.