How to use influencers to improve your school’s social engagement

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One of the hardest things to achieve online is an organic audience – that’s the people who see your content naturally, not through paid promotion or advertising. Some of your best content may never get seen unless you pay to promote it, and even then, it can be difficult to forge a lasting connection with an audience. In a 2015 study, it was found that only 1 percent of millennials (18 to 35 year olds) said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand. This is where a social media influencer can help.

What is a social media influencer? It is someone who has earned a following on social media by developing a niche culture and posting style, usually by being real and relatable, such as Hipster Mum, who has found an audience of millennial mothers online. After amassing a following of several thousand people, an influencer gains credibility with and the trust of that following and can thus begin to affect their opinion, likes, dislikes and even shopping habits.

Being shared by an influencer will give you access to their existing audience, if only for a short time. From this interaction, and if you already have a good library of content, you can see an increase in organic engagement across the board as people come back for new content. If you can develop a good relationship with an influencer and they are getting a good response from your content on their own platform(s), you could see your content being shared by them regularly.

For many schools and social media influencers, there is a large overlap of target audience. Making use of this influencer economy in a school marketing department is a relatively new idea, but one which could prove extremely successful if executed well. Here are four ways you can use influencers to improve your school social engagement:

1. Identify influencers with whom you share an audience
When looking at potential influencers, don’t just look at their popularity or number of likes. What you need to do is identify an influencer that has a voice that appeals to your target audience. Relevance is far more important than size.

2. Carefully research potential influencers
As mentioned, influencers have generally amassed a following by being real and relatable. Sometimes that means they may have personal views that can be considered controversial or a style that can be confronting. Before engaging a social media influencer, you should study their content, comments and their followers’ comments thoroughly to gauge whether this is a person you want your school to be affiliated with.

3. Create something that is beneficial to them and their audience
An influencer will never share a product or brand for the sake of sharing it. Their social media account is often their livelihood, so they have to know that what they share will positively engage their followers and potentially increase their following. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement. For a school, what you share will have to be of a certain standard of quality and have a positive social or personal impact for families. Some ideas include great blog content, such as fun activities, craft projects or holiday ideas; or a free resource for parents, such as a guide to understanding kids social media habits.

4. Give them freedom
At the 2017 Change the World: Perth event for marketers, speaker Lisa Shearon, AKA The Notorious MUM, provided some insight into the mind of an influencer. Basically, she said that influencers don’t like to be told what to do or say. They won’t share anything if you tell them what they should say. This is why it is important that your content shines on its own. If the influencer likes what they see, it will show in their writing; It becomes a much more genuine interaction.

Using an influencer to improve your school’s social media engagement is a strategy to increase brand awareness through quality content. Just like inbound marketing it is about giving the reader something useful. The difference with this strategy is that by getting your content shared by an influencer, the reader is receiving the content from a source that they implicitly trust. Through this you can dramatically increase your organic engagement.

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