Ahhh, influencer marketing. We all have seen the images: An Instagram model proudly touting Tummy Tea or a popular vlogger promoting vitamins or a mental health app. But can influencers truly have an effect on longer-lasting products such as education? The answer as of yet is unclear.
What is an influencer? Influencers are social media figures who have a large number of followers and can get their followers to blindly buy their product because they themselves are a product. For a certain amount of money, you can leverage this influence via a post or a hashtag.
It might not convert to sales but has an immense effect on brand recognition. Studies have shown that influencers have the public’s trust as they feel they personally know the person and as such are more likely to trust their opinion. There is an adverse effect, however, because influencers themselves are not corporations or a media conglomerate and can do things that might not be on-brand. As educators, they might promote things that will not properly reflect a school or agency’s mission. Furthermore, without a real connection to the school, this might come across as disingenuous.
The other fact to consider is whether they are the target market. Are we marketing towards kids who admittedly won’t always be interested in their own education or are we targetting parents? If so, an influencer is an interesting market. Mommy bloggers and YouTubers are on the rise and might be a tangible market for educational marketing.
The fact is though that education is not a “sexy” product. It isn’t tummy tea and it takes large amounts of commitment for students to want to come and study abroad. It takes a while to earn their trust. The key is to find a niche market that will properly be a good branding vehicle for your school.
Perhaps the answer lies in not a huge influencer that doesn’t understand your product but in utilizing micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have a smaller yet more containable base community that probably if chosen right might be the right niche for the educational market.
In marketing terms, educational marketing is not about the quantity, but the quality of the leads. In the end, the goal is to attract people to your school. With micro-influencers, you are able to leverage already existing networks that have built-in trust. This could be a parent with a decent social media following, alumni, a professor or someone who works with your school or agency. The key is to find influencers who have a direct localized link to you.
If you are planning to reach out, make sure you have a genuine connection and they don’t feel that this is something they are forced to do. Try to share their content as well and make sure you understand their audience enough to offer something that caters to their specific need. Organically creating a community that believes in your company is the key to success. By creating community and people that believe in it you can develop user generated content ( More on that in a future blog!)
Here are some quick tips to help you get started :
- Approach parents, alumni and host families that already have an established relationship with you. Start by asking them to be featured on your website or your social media especially if they are a prime example of what your brand represents. Make sure they link to their social media which is vital to get yourself noticed.
- Try to cater an event, photograph, memory that will help them promote your brand.
- Try sending them a kind message or phone call. Make sure it's someone who knows them already and keep it casual!
- Organize contests with specific hashtags that promotes your brand. This will not only create more follows but also gives you a lot more visibility when users post content about your business.
- Try getting some testimonials or have them post on their social media, have a video or something organic. The more natural and authentic the more likely this will generate more visbility.
In the end, it’s important to be able to understand that micro-influencers will not substitute a robust social media presence and good branding, but it can help elevate visibility and trust.