Why Social/Mobile in Education?
The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) was established in 1971 when the state of Pennsylvania abolished county superintendencies and created 29 intermediate units throughout the state. Intermediate units work between the Pennsylvania State Department of Education (PDE) and the local school districts and provide services that can be offered most economically at the regional level.
Today, the CCIU’s over 1,500 employees provide service to the 12 school districts in Chester County. This includes services to nearly 86,000 public and non-public school students and over 6,000 educators. CCIU’s major services include: special education and compensatory education programs; career, technical and customized education; mentor training and staff development; technology initiatives; consortia for school business operations; and curriculum services.
While the is CCIU is rich in history and is an established educational partner in the community, many of the residents of Chester County are unaware of the breadth and depth of our programs and services; however, one of the organizational goals for the 2020-2021 school year is focused on changing that. Goal Area 3 is aimed at communicating the CCIU’s mission. The objectives of the goal includes, communicating both internally and externally the value and quality of CCIU programs and services and becoming a valued source of information to our stakeholders regarding the latest research and best practices in education.
I believe mobile/social can play a significant role in helping the organization achieve this goal. I hope to take the lead on this initiative, use the knowledge I acquire from these classes, and develop a brand ambassador program that will use social and mobile platforms to harness the power of community to “increase brand awareness, understand customers, improve outcomes, and brand loyalty” (Karpis, para. 4).
Education Historically Slow to Change
K12 education is traditional and conservative in many ways. As a whole, the educational industry is typically slower to evolve and innovate.
Education has been slow to embrace change and especially social and mobile marketing. Aside from being stuck in a traditional mindset, there is simply a lack of resources. Most the school communication departments are understaffed (some nonexistent) and don’t have enough money in their budget for a social strategy. A study conducted by Finalsite showed “only 5% of [school professional] respondents have social media marketing as a full time job, and 58% dedicate five hours or less per week to social media marketing” (Major). As mentioned in class, content creation and management can be daunting, but it is especially daunting for district staff who don’t have the time or the money to dedicate to a social/mobile strategy.
Additionally schools face privacy concerns. Schools have an obligation to inform parents of how their students’ data is being used. Federal laws—such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)— help guide school leaders in deciding what new technologies to use but these regulations add another layer of complexity.
Although K12 faces some challenges when it comes to social and mobile, it can be done. There are few districts who are successfully using mobile to provide relevant, valuable content to their audiences. School District of Milton in Milton, Wi (@milton_school_district) and Springford School District in Springford, PA (@sprindfordasd) are two public school districts who are successfully engaging their audiences with mobile/social content.
Connecting Education & Community
My plan is to draw on employees, constituents, board members, students, etc. that are already embodying our brand that we have and let them think of the message that they can share with our community. I want to encourage brand ambassadors to make personal connections with customers by simply broadcasting what we are doing. This approach will make the transition to mobile/social more authentic and genuine. Alanna Francis writes, “Consider tapping into our brand ambassadors who will voluntarily promote your brand by speaking/writing/tweeting publicly about how much they love your products or services” (Francis, 2013, para. 2). Our own CCIU employees will become our influencers by engaging our community and fostering discussion.
Trish Rubin offers schools advice on how they can fire up the social/mobile engine. She provides two keys factors to understanding and implementing a social/mobile strategy. The first she explains is to “observe, participate and co-create. Use this simple model to share the brand through communication channels online and in real time.” Her second factor is to “follow the lead of top brands. The Apple, Disney and Hertz brands have built engagement from the inside out. Their ‘internal cores’ drive brand and messaging. In a school, the core comprises teachers, students and staff. Customers will love a brand if company insiders show their love for the brand.”
I think there are many benefits to public school moving to mobile/social. One of the biggest opportunities for impact is showcasing public education differentiators. Public schools have to step up their marketing efforts to compete with charters and private schools. Mobile/social provides a platform to amplify all the amazing things happening in our schools that make public districts a great choice.
I am excited to get started!
Francis, Alanna. “How to Launch a Successful Brand Ambassador Initiative.” Entrepreneur, 24 Jan. 2013, www.entrepreneur.com/article/225532.
Karpis, Paulina. “Why Building Community Is Critical To Your Brand’s Success.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 Nov. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/paulinaguditch/2018/11/29/why-building-community-is-critical-to-your-brands-success/.
Major, Mia. “Social Media Marketing for Schools in 2018 – 20 Questions, Answered!” Powered by Finalsite Opens in a New Window, www.finalsite.com/blog/p/~board/b/post/social-media-marketing-for-schools-in-2018-20-questions-answered.
Rubin, Trish. “Connect Your School Brand from the inside Out.” District Administration, 1 Apr. 2019, districtadministration.com/connect-your-school-brand-from-the-inside-out/