Wednesday, December 17, 2014

10 Guidelines for #EdTech Companies + Social Media - It's All About Relationships

Social media has changed how vendors do business. It is no longer one way communication. Instead with social media, like never before, there is now two-way communication allowing companies to have conversations with their customers. Those who are doing so effectively. Those who are doing so effectively, grow customer loyalty and respect.  Those who are not doing it well, will be perceived as out-of-touch and will move further toward irrelevance. 
Those who serve our schools should be expected to engage with educators via social media. Simply providing products is no longer enough. Educators want to have relationships with the people behind the products. Some ed tech partners are doing a terrific job of this with robust online communities where the people behind the resource are there to support educators in relevant ways. What's more, educators are able to connect with others using their product.  

Here are some do's and don'ts when businesses do get in the business of using social media with educators. 

1. Don't be afraid
Fear is not an option when it comes to using social media. Some companies are so afraid they may have a typo or an employee can't be trusted to represent the company well, that they fall into a stage of over analysis paralysis. They're missing from the conversation. More and more often this makes consumers angry to the point that they'll move on.

2. Don't link em and leave em
Link and leave is the spam of social media. Do not engage if you don't have something meaningful and relevant to share. If your just touting your wears, it will negatively affect the brand-consumer relationship leading to the consumer having less respect for the company. 

3. Don't engage anonymously
Consumers want to know the man behind the mirror. Let them know who it is that is Tweeting, posting, blogging, uploading, commenting, etc. Relationships are built with the people behind the product, not just the product alone.  

4. Don't be a salesman
By and large social media and traditional marketing are not buddies. This is about relationships, not sales. Build the relationships and customer loyalty, then word of mouth, then sales, will follow.  Don't follow this rule and potential customers are likely to stop following you.

5. Don't start a conversation in a community before you a part of it
Don't join a community just to share that thing you want to share. Don't promote your product, challenge, sale, article, event or share anything before taking time to participate in the community. Read a little, watch a little, comment meaningfully. Earn trust. Once you know the environment and members know you, it may be time to start a conversation.  

1. Do connect 
Consumers want a connection. Engage in conversation with your customers and help your customers get to know each other. Help them have a positive shared experience which could include how to use your product most effectively for learning. This also helps to promote brand loyalty. 

2. Do have a clear "about" section
Your "about" section should be fun and clear as to the type of interactions that are encouraged and discouraged. 

3. Do look who's talking
While it may make sense to have a community around your product, it's also important to know the people and communities who may be talking about your product. Join groups, pages, Twitter conversations.  When you do, remember it is better to give then promote when using social media. Provide helpful advice, thoughts, suggestions. Don't engage by telling people to buy your product. 

4. Share and spread the love
Find out who the influencers are in your field. On Twitter you can do this by selecting a hashtag or search term and then selecting people and see who the top influencers are. On Facebook or Google Communities, see who is running the community. See what they have to say. Reply with helpful responses. Retweet and share. 

5. Do know who is doing this well
Check out the companies who are doing social media well and learn from them. Some that come to mind are:
  • Sharpie -
  • Scholastic -
  • Google -
  • Follet - 
  • Intel Education -
Please comment with others!

So, what are some of the big do's and don't's you've seen when it comes to ed tech companies and social media?  Please share in the comments.  

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