Here are some things that Education Pioneers (EP) has learned about social media along the way and what's worked best for us.
1. You can't go viral right away.
Spend time building your audience by providing consistent, high-quality content that makes it worth their while to listen to what you have to say. Education Pioneers had recent success with a national media campaign announcing that applications for our 2013 Fellowships are now open, including:
- Seeing the most visitors we'd ever had on the EP website in one day
- Increasing the number of Fellowship applications we'd received by 86 percent in just one week
- Gaining 100 new Twitter followers in one week
- Seeing our Facebook post shared 16 times (the most "shares" we'd had to date); and
- Gaining 49 new Facebook fans in a week.
These are great results for us, and we realized them because we've spent years building our audience, by sharing highlights of our work and success, stories about our Alumni's impact in the education sector, and interesting and/or informative content about the sector itself, or leadership and management best practices.
We talk about our network - our Fellows, Partners, and Alumni - the work they're doing, and the impact they're having so that we can continually build and reinforce our community. Additionally, we strive to share success, be it our own or someone else's, in a way that makes our community feels that they are a part of it. We call people out by name or tag them, and celebrate their work.
2. Swim with the current.
Leverage your organization's existing momentum: the work you're already doing.
In June, Education Pioneers hosted our first education symposium that brought together our Fellows, Alumni, Partner organizations, and supporters for a full day of panels, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities. To leverage and share this opportunity on social media, we:
- Created a unique hashtag on Twitter to track the conversation (#TransformEd2012)
- Asked our participants to engage in the social media conversation; and
- Shared key insights and event happenings in real time on our own Twitter and Facebook pages.
By showcasing work we were already doing and facilitating a conversation on social media, we were able to offer valuable insights that our high-profile symposium speakers shared, and also gain visibility for our organization and our work.
3. Be specific.
The more specific and clear you are, the more quickly your reader can see how they fit into what you're saying and take action.
When we recently announced that our 2013 Fellowship applications are open, we said up front that we're looking for 530 top leaders, managers, and analysts. We also asked people to apply and/or refer top candidates.
Having a specific message with a clear call to action helped us ensure that people would hear - and act on - our message.
4. Make sure you're heard.
When you have something important to share, maximize your distribution channels.
For all of Education Pioneers' national announcements, we distribute our message as widely as we can, which includes:
- Sending our national news release out over the wire
- Sending an email blast to our database; and
- Executing a follow-up social media campaign.
We know that our message is competing with hundreds, potentially thousands, of other messages. And when we have something important to say, we want to be certain that our audience hears it. By adopting a multi-channel approach, we strive to maximize the odds that our audience will hear our message.