Allison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Allison will be presenting at the upcoming EdVET 2017 conference on ‘The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners’.
Social media is fully ingrained into lots of people’s lives with some Australians spending more than half a day per week (12.5 hours) on Facebook alone. This frequency of activity presents you with lots of opportunities to get people to love your training organisation through social media. The following information shares how you can capitalise on this opportunity.
Take an outwardly and inwardly perspective
There are two ways you can be using social media to get people to love your training organisation, through an:
- Outward facing perspective – where you create a social media profile/page as a communication tool to build your training organisation’s brand awareness to encourage potential students (and employers) to choose your training organisation
- Inward facing perspective – where you create a social media group as a community of practice for existing and alumni students to share experiences and new opportunities with one another, ensuring people love you while they are with your training organisation, and once they have left
It’s all about helping your students succeed
Whichever approach you select, you will need to consider why potential, existing and alumni students want to engage with your training organisation through social media. This is best done by knowing how your training organisation is helping people getting their training ‘job’ done. According to Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Professor, the job of education and training is to help people feel successful.
What feeling successful looks like for your students can vary from wanting to:
- find a job or get a better job
- start their own business or improve the one they have
- get into a higher qualification
- improve themselves out of self-interest
- meet compliance or legislative requirements
Once you determine which of these jobs you are helping your students achieve, you can then consider how to communicate and connect with them on social media. If your students fall into more than one of these categories, you will need to tailor different interactions in social media to meet these different needs.
What types of communication works well on social media?
An analysis of various successful training organisations’ use of social media uncovered that the following are key ways to communicate with students in social media:
|Student life while studying with your RTO or afterwards
||Share photos and video of cool stuff that students have done:
– Industry visits or work placements
– Awards won
– Stuff they have produced
|Industry specific information
||Set up a Google Alert which notifies you by email of hard to find information on topics relevant to your area and re-share this information, such as:
– Upcoming important dates or regulatory changes
– Funding opportunities
|Job, work experience or internship opportunities
||Subscribe to job finding websites which send you emails when jobs in your industry/location are advertised and then share this information
||Share your own content (or that of others) which is hard to find elsewhere – Video works best here if it is practical topic, but so do blog posts, checklists and reports etc. Live streaming from events is also becoming very popular.
||Share how your upcoming training programs help potential students get their ‘job to be successful’ done
||Share photos and video of what happens ‘behind the scene’ in your organisation, and at organisational events, which show the ‘human’ side of your organisation
|Voting and polling
||Involve students in decision making from anything from helping to choose your next logo or to voting on key policies effecting students
When using students’ work or including imagery of students in posts, make sure you have them sign a media release form. If you do not already have one of these, do a quick web search to find lots of examples on which you can base one on.
Which social media site?
Whoever said “build it and they will come” never worked online. While Facebook is still “King of the Mountain’ with the largest number of social media users, there are a number of other places where your students could be frequenting including: Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Whatsapp.
If you are not sure which one to start with then, generally speaking, start with Facebook as it does have the largest pool of people. Also consider:
- surveying your existing students to find out where they hang out online
- checking out where people in your industry hang out online
Tweak to be unique
To ensure that your training organisation has a ‘return on investment’ in the time and money spent getting people to love your RTO through social media, ensure you set a goal of what your training organisation is trying to achieve through social media (e.g. getting more people to your website or contacting you about your courses).
Your social media goal will be used to:
- set the call to action for your social media communications, for example, including links in your posts to landing pages on your website, as well as having your training organisation’s website link and contact details in your social media profile
- monitor the interactions with your social media communications on a regular basis to determine how many likes, shares and comments different posts get, and then increasing those posts which get most engagement and help you achieve your social media goal
How do you grow your social media presence?
Use paid and targeted ‘boosts’ to get your posts into the steams of your ideal potential students. With the right content in the post, this will encourage people to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your social media profile. For example, regularly boosting your Facebook posts which have the right content for as little as $10 a day for a week or so will see a great return on investment over time.
Other ways to grow your social media followers is to encourage existing followers to share your posts through competitions to win stuff or by asking them to tag people into posts if they think the content is appealing e.g. tag a friend who should apply for this job. Make these competitions fun and relevant to your followers, and to your social media goal.
And finally, use social media yourself to stay current about what is happening in your industry and as a form of professional development by following organisations and individuals considered ‘leaders’ in your field. This activity will also give you ideas about what works and what doesn’t in social media.
For tips on using social media and ensuring you are meeting your ASQA requirements read this blog post.
Learn more about EdVET 2017.