Social media amplifies your content, your website and your brand. It creates a more personal relationship with your early childhood service community and collaborative partnerships with families and communities (Quality Area 6 of the National Quality Standard). But it cannot stand alone as an internet marketing solution. Like any other media, it needs to be harnessed to be effective. Social media has become a major part of consumer culture, and it is time to embrace social media marketing or risk becoming irrelevant. Here are five tips for getting up to speed on engaging with families:
1. Build trust and professional reputation
- Online activity offers early childhood services opportunities for connecting although this can be hard to recognise in the social media language of sales, branding and building a customer base. Early childhood services already have a community – parents, families, educators, local businesses and colleagues.
- The aim is to build the trust of that community, present a professional face through online activity and enlarge the circle of people that know about your early childhood service. In other words – brand recognition. Helping families to recognise quality, connecting them to vital information and services, guiding responsible use of social media by parents and educators are all part of National Quality Standard and doing business.
2. Understand legal obligations and consequences
- Creating a web address, offering online transactions such as enrolments, payment methods, commenting on Facebook or Twitter, storing data and sending group emails carry obligations. Take time to understand how laws covering defamation and offensive conduct, privacy, intellectual property and marketing affect online activity.
- For instance, unsolicited emails with commercial content can be considered spam. It can alienate your community (accounting for many unsubscribes to emails) but it may also trigger Spam laws. The Department of Communication’s digital business site offers detailed advice, links and case studies: www.digitalbusiness.gov.au/security-and-legal.
3. Choose tools that align with your education practice and values
- Attractive apps, devices and new options come onto the market every day. Look past gadgets, gimmicks and free offers. Consider the long term. Will it be easy to use? Does it match your current and future reporting requirements? Does it support quality education and care?
- Examine the tools you already use and talk to your software provider about add-ons to an existing system. In recent years many traditional early childhood education and care regulatory, payment and accounting systems have begun to add networking functions, while new products are constantly emerging. School bag, netbox.com, Kinderloop, Kindyhub, Hubworks, 2Simple, CELS and Quikkids are some of the numerous commercial applications available with functions that manage connections.
4. Match tools to family and parent preferences
- Go online where they go, offer information in formats they already use, listen to their concerns where they express them. Even if you ‘don’t do Facebook’ or know about Pinterest now, these sites are where a significant number of communities and businesses are gathering.
- Statistics compiled by socialmedianews.com.au for January 2015 show the most popular tools in Australia that month. A simple survey can reveal how this fits with your parent community preferences. For instance, while Pinterest was ranked 14, it is popular among some family day care and long day care services.
Social Media Statistics Australia – January 2015
- Facebook – 13,800,000 users (up 200,000)
- YouTube – 13,500,000 UAVs
- WordPress.com – 6,150,000
- Tumblr – 4,800,000
- Instagram – 4,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users (Facebook/ Instagram data)
- LinkedIn – 3,100,000
- Blogspot – 2,900,000
- Twitter – 2,791,300 Active Australian Users
- TripAdvisor – 2,000,000
- Tinder – 1,500,000 Australian users
- Yelp – 1,500,000
- Snapchat – 1,070,000 Active Australian Users
- Flickr – 710,000
- Pinterest – 355,000
- Reddit – 170,000
- MySpace – 125,000
- Google Plus – approx 60,000 monthly active Australian users
- StumbleUpon – 50,000
- Foursquare/Swarm – 25,000
- Digg – 18,000
- Offer options for all levels of connection: Excursions, picnics, concerts, meetings, conversations and parent forums are here to stay. Parents, educators and children want face-to-face contact and to socialise in real-time, real-world situations. Social media options do not replace favourite ways to link up. They give more opportunities.
5. Analyse your efforts
- One advantage of digital tools that is yet to be fully harnessed by the early childhood sector is the rich data they offer about your community and the impact of your online activities. Analyse parent and educator demographics to learn more about their technology and other preferences.
- Online surveys and calendars can help do this. Unlike paper surveys, online forms don’t get lost. Many options are free and simple to set up. They offer built-in analytics and automatic reminders that show when surveys were completed, who responded and when. Automatic prompts can save time and angst for administrative staff and increase response rates.
- Use analytics to reach families at the right time and in the best ways. Identify the interactions that attract the quickest and highest number of responses to tailor future online activities. Used wisely, a range of options help families sort through busy days and too much information to focus on the urgent and the important.
Take a moment to Google your centre and see how your brand is projecting to the world.
At MAXEMUS, formulating a Social Media Strategy for your centre begins by answering the following questions:
– Which Social Media channels are most appropriate for your community?
– What message are we going to communicate?
– When are we going to communicate?
– Who will be allowed to communicate?
Social Media, while it has the potential to make your brand, also has the potential to break it. Now you have some basic tactics to market your preschool online! Don’t be left behind.
Now is the time to put proven online marketing techniques into action to increase enquires and grow the enrolment in your preschool program.
Download Your FREE Facebook Advertising Guide
In this Guide we share everything you need to know about Facebook Ads to get your campaigns up and running quickly and with maximum return on ad spend:
Step 1: An introduction to advertising on Facebook
Step 2: What goals can we achieve using Facebook advertising?
Step 3: Targeting using Facebook
Step 4: Placement: Where and when will my ads appear?
Step 5: Ad types and what they offer
Step 6: Bid types: What are the options on bidding?
Step 7: Tools – How are ads created? Understanding the Ad Manager, Power Editor, and Business Manager
Step 8: Creative Best Practice
Step 9: Tracking and Reporting: How do I know if my ads have been effective