4 ways for education companies to make better connections with school leaders on social media

As an Assistant Headteacher I often get company representatives contact me via LinkedIn and Twitter  trying to interest me in their professional services. Some get it right, others not so much. Here are 4 tips for companies selling educational services or products when trying to get new business from school leaders via social media. (757 words)

  1. Understand the platform

I’m fairly active on Twitter in a personal and professional capacity. The beauty of Twitter is that it can be used to listen to people and interact in a variety of conversations. People don’t mind you jumping in.  Too many educational companies get this wrong.  Some just tweet out what they can do or retweet praise for their product. That’s boring. I never follow any accounts where it’s clear there is no real interaction with and they are using it as a loudspeaker.  Twitter is a two way conversation often in real time. Interact with you audience. Tweet interesting stuff that is relevant to your audience. Build a relationship. We will buy from companies and people we trust or have built a relationship with.

Work out when educationalists are on and listen to what they are saying. Follow the #ukedchat hashtags for wider educational debate and the #SLTchat hashtag if you want to see what school leaders (those with the budget and power to buy your services) are thinking or worried about. Maybe later in the week tweet out a news story or quote or something else that relates to topics that a few people mentioned. Tag those people in. Show us you care.

If you make yourself valuable and interesting. We’ll start to look at your product ourselves and ask more.

2. Don’t try and sell on first contact

I’m still fairly new to Linkedin and still trying to work it out but I can say what puts me off of some interactions straight away… Business representatives who send a message that is essentially ‘Hi, My name is X. I work for Y. We sell Z. Fancy a call?’

Well, no I don’t. Budgets are tight in education right now and everybody else is doing that too. It’s too generic. You send that to everybody and you clearly just want to sell.

Maybe make a first contact that is bit less high pressured. Make an insightful comment on a post that somebody has written. Share good content from people on your profile to add value to your customers. If you do this consistently and genuinely- people will look at your profile and ask more questions about your services. They’ll get to know you and therefore your product.

3. Get personal and add value

School leaders talk to other school leaders and we’ll investigate services recommended  by word of mouth from colleagues we trust or if it’s clear that they serve a specific need.

You know who I’d make an appointment or call to see? Somebody who had clearly done their homework about my organisation. Want to get into a school? Read their Ofsted report. Look at specific problems they have that you can solve. Contact them with a few tips or useful insights or solutions without expecting anything.  A bit like I’m doing here.

They may not invite you in straight away but you’ll put yourself ahead of other companies and stay on their radar because it hardly ever happens. Ever. I’m serious.

4. Act like a human being not a business

If you are going to do social media do it well. Yes you may be representing a brand but make your brand/company have a human voice. That pushy person who butts in when two other people are talking in the staff room to go on about their good or service? Nobody wants that guy at their party. Nobody.

Who gets this right?

I had a delightful exchange with somebody from Show My Homework  recently on Twitter that definitely followed tips 1 and 2 above. We aren’t in the market for their services at my school right now but in the future- maybe we will be and I’ll remember. In the meantime, I’ve recommended them to colleagues at other schools.

In recent years, employees from The Key , especially Penny  Rabiger (@Penny_Ten) had a great presence on social media and were very helpful and knowledgeable in general interactions, which made me recommend their service at a previous school.

The above is not an exhaustive list but if you try some and other similar strategies with your own twist then it will automatically put you above the competition and I and people like me are more likely to be receptive.

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