The education profession was flipped on its head over the past two years during the global pandemic. The landscape has changed as we navigate how to recruit and retain new families. The needs of our parents and students are changing rapidly. We must adapt to the changing world as we market and communicate to engage our audiences.
As school boards and leadership put more pressure on maintaining school funding, primarily based on student enrollment, how will school communication departments need to adapt? Where do we need to focus our marketing resources? What skills do our team need to be the best it can be? What content will resonate to reach and engage our families?
As we gradually creep to a new normal, here are ten critical school marketing hires for future success:
10 Critical School Marketing Hires
1. Customer Experience Specialist
The customer experience is the lifeblood of any school marketing strategy. It is critical we fully understand our audiences and use this to build experiences they will crave. After all, experiences are what create your reputation and, ultimately, your brand.
Finding an individual that is an expert on customer experience will significantly benefit your team. Your expert team member should understand brand experiences dealing with customers, know how to develop a customer focus environment, use analysis to define your audience personas, develop touchpoint mapping, and fully understand the power of word of mouth marketing as well as social listening.
2. Discord Community Manager
If you have teenage children, ask them about Discord. According to the Discord website, Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app used by tens of millions of people ages 13+ to talk and hang out with their communities and friends.
People use Discord daily to talk about many things, ranging from art projects and family trips to homework and mental health support. It’s a home for communities of any size, but it’s most widely used by small and active groups of people who talk regularly.
In simple terms, Discord is a community-driven by shared interests. I feel it will be an important way to engage parents and students in the future. Many Discord Manager positions are popping up on job sites across the country. Here is an example of a job post on LinkedIn:
We are looking for a qualified Community manager to join our team. We want you to reach out if you are a tech/crypto-savvy professional experienced in social media and promotional events!
Our ideal candidate has exceptional written communication skills and creates engaging content. We need somebody who understands people, always puts customer/community first, and effectively leads moderation for online and offline conversations.
Ultimately, you will be the face and voice of our brand to our community, meaning you’ll manage all consumer-facing community communications.
3. Short Form Video Creator
TikTok made it super-popular, now most social media platforms are embracing the power of short video content. With attention spans shortening, it is critical to find a way to engage our audiences in the most effective way possible. Entertaining, educational videos seem to be doing the trick.
Short-form video can do anything from building brand awareness to increasing engagement to advertising a program. Short-form video skills are pretty different than long-form narrative video content. It will be essential to have someone on your staff that understands how to engage using this medium. Knowing that creating video optimized for social media will boost your engagement across your active platforms.
4. Content Flow Coordinator
Content is the key to engaging your audiences. Being able to develop relevant content and knowing where to distribute it on what channels are vital. If your department is not analyzing your audiences and understanding how they want to interact with content, you will lose in the long run. Sometimes knowing how to distribute content is more critical than knowing what to create.
Having someone on your staff to develop content pipelines will help with audience engagement and increase brand awareness for your schools and programs. Know your audience. Find where they live, and then give them the content they crave.
5. Social Listening Manager
I have addressed social listening in another blog article. I believe it is critical to creating a great brand experience for your audience.
Across the internet and on social media, I have seen many school districts and companies wondering how to hide or delete comments from their audiences. Although I advocate deleting any hate speech or derogatory comments, I do not favor turning off our audiences’ words.
The power and knowledge comments bring to our district far outweigh any negative brand image it might convey. I believe comments are a powerful tool to tap into our audience’s minds and improve our district’s customer experience.
Social listening allows brands to follow and examine conversations about them on social media platforms. In the past, I have said this in many presentations and consultations; knowing your audience is one of the most critical aspects of your company or school district’s marketing efforts. Researching your audience should be one of the first things to start a new marketing campaign.
6. Live Video Stream Engineer
It is time for your district to invest in video—especially live streaming video on most social media platforms.
According to Facebook expert Mari Smith, live video gets six times the engagement on Facebook than regular video. This statistic is why live video streaming needs to be part of your school district marketing.
All of the major social media platforms now have a live video streaming option. From TikTok to LinkedIn to Twitter, audiences are embracing live video. And the popularity of live video has surged during the pandemic. It would help if you educated yourself on all of them.
Having a team member on staff that knows the streaming capabilities of each platform is a plus. They also need to be able to set up these platforms to reach specific audiences. For example, if the event is geared toward students, it would be good to stream to Instagram or TikTok. Suppose you are trying to reach parents, live video stream to Facebook. If you are trying to contact your staff, try Twitter.
7. Trendspotting Manager
I’m not talking about boring educational trends… I’m talking about design, fashion and societal trends. I encourage you to walk college campuses, read Seventeen Magazine, visit Forever21.com. Knowing trends will help your team develop relevant content for your audiences.
Having someone on your staff to investigate what is trending for parents, students and staff will be critical to developing your content. Everyone on your team should have at least some grasp on what is trending. If not, you should devote time during your staff meetings to investigate and educate other members.
8. Inbound Marketing Specialist
The following has been taken from my article: How to Use Inbound Marketing to Increase Student Enrollment.
Traditional marketing is dying a slow death. With increased competition in public education, school districts must use innovative approaches to market their schools and programs.
Using a combination of content marketing and inbound marketing, schools and school districts can build trust with their stakeholders.
Inbound marketing is not about bombarding our parents and students with sales messages about your district. It is about providing your customers with valuable content to help solve their pain points. Inbound marketing uses a pull approach rather than the push approach commonly used in traditional marketing.
You will need a team member that knows how to develop amazing content to reach niche audiences. From there, they will need to be knowledgeable on lead magnets and email marketing.
According to Tresnic Media, a Lead Magnet is something that you offer prospects in exchange for something they give you in return. The most common goal is to capture website visitors’ contact information and gain permission to market to them directly. In exchange for their valuable contact information, you as a business need to offer something that your prospects deem of high enough value to trade their contact information for it.
Email is a one-to-one communication channel used daily by most of our most valuable target audience, parents. It gives us exceptional targeting capabilities and reach. Engagement is high with our audience.
Niche email lists allow districts to send more personalized messages to their target audiences. For example, you can create lists for Kindergarten Parents, Gifted and Talented Parent Groups, High School Seniors, and many more. Schools can secure email addresses and open the communication pipeline with our audiences using landing pages and valuable content.
9. Social Media Optimization Officer
His one is simple. Understand social media platforms and use them correctly. You do not post the same content across all of your platforms. There are different audiences on your various social media channels. They do not want the same content.
You need to hire or train individuals on your staff to understand your audiences and their needs. You must know what platforms are used by whom and then engage by creating content relevant to that group.
10. Web3 Strategy Expert
I am not an expert on this topic. I wish I were. I am just now doing my research. Here is an article by Slate.com that might help you understand Web3 a little bit better.
The school marketing world is changing. As experts, we must adapt. If you do not have people on your staff who feel comfortable about the above topics, you will need to find someone who does. Your success depends on it.