7 Ways to Successfully Blog and Tweet

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As promised in my last blog – we will be discussing seven ways to successfully blog and tweet to connect with your customer through building authentic relationships.

Benefits of Blogging!

“A blog is your ticket to creating: content, context, connection, and community,” according to John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing.

What does this mean for a vocational school?

As a vocational school, the more people who know (1) what is really taught in the school, (2) the value and benefits of the trade, (3) what employers are saying about employees with these skills (or lack of these skills), and (4) what the marketplace is demanding, the more they will realize the importance of this form of education. It is the school’s job to share their information (content) in the correct context, and connect with their audience (the community). But remember the 80/20 rule – eighty percent of your tweets and blog content should be about topics your customers are interested in. As a vocational school, you may decide to keep it in the area of education and employment skills, sharing education and employment tips, but it shouldn’t be screaming “enroll in our school today!”

Benefits of Tweeting!

Tweeting is not all talking. It’s also listening. Listening to what your customer is saying on Twitter (both your feed or others) and learning what your customer likes and dislikes, answer their questions, make them laugh, and build a relationship. You will discover what to blog or tweet about, how to provide tools for and help your customer, and show you truly care about them and want to help.

As mentioned in my last post, the majority of schools that are tweeting (which are only 33%) don’t venture outside of posting “what’s happening at our school.” There’s so much more that can be accomplished by sharing and recognizing what’s happening at local businesses and in the workforce, as well as providing tools for being successful on the job and in school. One school I found in my “search” noted above, who understands the importance of thanking the community and sharing what businesses are saying. They show their appreciation! Kudos to them!

7 Tips for Blogging and Tweeting with Success!

Seven tips to help ensure your blogs (per Mark Schaefer) and tweets (per Gary Vaynerchuk) are successful include: 

Listen! Begin with listening to what is already being said. Read other blogs and tweets. Get on your competitors’ sites – see what is being said. Read other blogs in your industry, what are customers saying? What do employers want in a student? What do parents need from a school? Where are students struggling?

Purpose! Determine the purpose (goal) of the blog. Without a purpose your customers may become confused and stop following you. Be sure to identify what you want to accomplish, what needs you want to meet. Remember – it needs to be two-way and must put customers first!

ROI! Estimate the return on investment and utilize the analytic tools to determine if you are reaching it. (Refer to my previous blog.)

Plan! When will you post your blogs? What will the blogs be about? Who will be responsible for blogging? It should be someone who truly cares about the customer – who wants to engage with customers.

Monitor / Reply! Be ready to monitor and reply to comments – who’s going to do this? Again, it should be someone who wants to engage with customers – to help.

Authentic Helpfulness! Be authentically helpful! Make the customer feel as though you really do want to help and are concerned with their problems. They will keep coming back if they feel valued.

Be Genuine! Be yourself. Show your human side. Even share “non-business” information about you. When customers see the human side of a business they are more willing to connect.

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SAME but DIFFERENT
Blogs and Twitter are the same, yet different.

The seven tips above apply to both platforms, but the content you include and how you do it should be different, depending on what your goal is for each one. You will have many more tweets than blogs, but you still must respond to both in a timely fashion and be authentic!

Some vocational schools are just beginning to see the value of social media in relations to building authentic community and relationships with their students, parents, community, and employers, while others have a ways to go.

YOUR TURN…

What is one of the tips noted above that surprises you? What is one area you are still nervous about and would like to have me share more information on?

To Blog or Microblog, That is the Question

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“Blogging and the Internet allow us to engage in a lot more real time conversations as opposed to a one-way dump of information or a message.” ~Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo’s CEO)

What is a blog? What is a microblog?
Is Twitter a microblog?

Many of you reading this post most likely know what a blog is – in fact you’re reading a blog right now! Blogs started out as online diaries, but quickly found their way into the business arena. Today, businesses use blogs to reach the customer with interactive conversations. Businesses post blogs to share information with the customer, and in-turn customers can reply to businesses, ask questions, and get answers. Individuals even have their own blogs in which they talk about businesses. Businesses should pay attention to those posts – they can learn a lot! Blogs also help with search engine optimization.

Do you know what a microblog is? If you’ve ever been on Twitter you’ve been on a microblog. Twitter is a great way for companies to network. It is another way businesses can hold conversations with their customer and share information via links. With Twitter you’re limited to 140 characters, while bloggers try to keep their conversations to 500 – 800 characters.  But even though Twitter and blogs are different in some regards, they are very complimentary to each other. Mark Schaeffer explains it as “Twitter is the trailer to the blog’s movie.”

But why should a business (including vocational schools) use blogs and microblogs (in this case Twitter)? Because, as PepsiCo’s CEO, Indra Nooyi states, it allows us (the company) “to engage in a lot more real time conversations as opposed to a one-way dump of information or a message.” Think of the conversations you could have with your parents, students, and local employers through both Twitter and blogging?

Who’s currently using blogs and Twitter to connect with the vocational schools’ audiences?

In my previous blog, Fear of Using Social Media, I mention how only 13% of teachers use social media in the classroom. In this blog, I am looking at the use of social media (specifically Twitter and blogging) as a tool by vocational schools to communicate with their audience – students, parents, community, and employers – about the value of vocational schools and what they have to offer. Although I was unable to locate specific stats for this particular use, I did quick research of my own by visiting 17 Massachusetts vocational high school websites, to see which ones had a link to Twitter or a blog.  I was not surprised with the results.

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Data gathered by Lori Narewski in informal survey

Eleven schools had no links to any social media sites, five schools had links to Twitter (and sometimes Facebook or Instagram), and one had a link to Twitter that when clicked on brought me to my own Twitter page. None had a link to a blog.

What Are the Schools Tweeting?

Of the five ‘tweeting’ schools, all shared what was going on inside the doors of the school – which is important. However, only one shared links to what employers are saying or thanked businesses in the community for field trips and participating in the education of the students. This is a vital part of two-way conversations with the customer that businesses must be having. Businesses need to talk about more than themselves – they must find out what their customer is interested in and talk about that – and they must listen! It makes me think of the song “I Want to Talk About Me” song by Toby Keith – don’t make your customers feel like this!

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80-20 Rule Applies to Social Media Too!

Think of the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of your posts should be simply connecting with the customer on topics and themes they are interested in, twenty percent are then “selling.” Gary Vaynerchuk refers it to a “jab, jab, jab, right hook,” in which “jabs are the value you provide your customers with: the content you put out, the good things you do to convey your appreciation. And the right hook is the ask: it’s when you go in for the sale, ask for a subscribe, ask for a donation.” In addition to the 80-20 rule, there are several additional tips to being successful with both blogs and Twitter.

Those tips will be provided in my next blog – we will be discussing seven ways to successfully blog and tweet and connect with your customer through building authentic relationships.

YOUR TURN…

Is your business blogging? Tweeting?
Are you  using the 80-20 rule?
Where do you think you need to make adjustments?

Please share your success here, and even your “need to improve” if you would like!

Fear of Using Social Media in the Classroom

fear-441402_1920With social media use on the rise in the general population one would expect it to have the same trend in education. However, this is not always the case, as the information below demonstrates.

Fact #1: Teenagers use the Internet on a regular basis.

According to Pew Research, in 2015:

  • 92% of teens go on-line daily
  • 71% of teens use Facebook account
  • 52% of teens use Instagram
  • 41% of teens use SnapChat (although this figure has increased since then)
  • 33% use Twitter
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Data from Pew Research
Fact #2: Use of social media in the classroom has decreased!
  • In 2013, 18% used SM in the classroom
    (82% of teachers did not use social media in the classroom)
  • In 2013, hesitancy to use social media in the classroom was 55%
  • In 2015 only 13% of teachers use social media in the classroom
    (87% of teachers do not use social media in the classroom)
  • In 2015, hesitancy to use social media in the classroom was 62%
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Data from University of Phoenix
Why are teachers hesitant to bring social media into the classroom? What are the risks?

Although according to the same survey mentioned above,  46% of teachers believe social media “can enhance a student’s educational experience,” the hesitancy to actually use it stems from concern in regards to conflict that could arise with the students or parents.

As I mentioned in my last post regarding the use of Facebook, there are many benefits for both schools, as a whole, and educators to utilize social media.However, there are some hazards that should be addressed, so as to avoid them as much as possible.

Hazard #1: Boundaries!

Teachers must be aware of boundaries between professional and personal lives. All communication should remain professional; personal lives should remain personal. Teachers should have separate social media accounts for school and personal use, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, when communicating with students and families. Simply search the phrase “teachers getting in trouble on social media” and you will find a plethora of examples where a teacher has lost their job due to inappropriate social media posts. Here is just one example of what you will discover.

Hazard #2: Confidentiality!

The same confidentiality that is in place for teachers to abide by in the classroom and community is still in place on social media. Teachers must be aware  of the right to privacy laws, as well as other district rules and regulations. Pictures of students cannot be posted without parents’ consent. Grades and other student information cannot be shared. Teachers should refer to their school employment handbook to make sure they follow the rules and laws.

Hazard #3: Distraction or Improper Use of SM in the Classroom!

Students may be distracted by social media during the lesson or post inappropriate images and content, especially if it’s difficult for the teacher to see what site they are on if they are using SMART phones. Who is responsible if this happens? What are the consequences? How does this impact student learning? These are valid concerns that should be addressed in a district social media policy.

Hazard #4: Cyber Bullying and Inappropriate Posts!

Cyber bullying via social media seems to be in the news on a regular basis. Here is just one result that appeared when I searched for “cyberbullying examples in schools.” Teachers are concerned that if social media use is allowed in the classroom these occurrences may increase. Monitoring every post by students is a challenge, if not impossible. How do schools currently handle cyber bullying? How should the current school policies be adjusted to help deter and stope these occurrences from happening?

With the majority of students already on social media and so many benefits that can be reaped when social media is used appropriately for collaboration, research, and social interaction, and preparing students for life outside of high school (this is for another post) it will be interesting to see where schools go with social media.

YOUR TURN…

Please share any concerns you have with social media being used in the classroom…I would love to hear your thoughts!