Who am I and why am I here? Former roles:* Multi-site child care administrator ** Web sites, social media, marketing, and software development at Teaching Strategies ** Parent Engagement at NACCRRA *(Child Care Aware Parent Network and Child Care Aware) * NOW: Private Marketing, software, & SM Consultant *
How many audiences do you reach through your work? You probably connect with at least 5 different classifications of people, and within those classifications, there are different types of people with different needs and different perspectives that impact how you can/should connect with them. Develop personas for the different “types” of people you need to engage and develop a sample profile for them. Yes, you can even name them, just so you can keep them all straight! Figure out what motivates them and figure out how to best reach them.
Where do you think your audiences congregate? In real life, they may be at the playground, houses of worship, neighborhood haunts, or other locations. But, if they have access to the Internet, where do they hang? On Facebook.LinkedIn,Twitter, CCAPN, YouTube, MomsRising, Mamamedia, Babble? Do they read blogs? Do they have cell phones or other mobile devices? Can they receive email? Would they be likely to attend webinars or online chats if they were offered in the evening or on weekends?
Child Care Aware Parent Network (NACCRRA) Notice the webinars are offered when parents are available? Notice the content?
Think like parents. What do they care about? Don’t just think about what you need to communicate. Use information like spices in the basic recipe of what you are cooking up for them. Some of the ingredients are required, like flour in cake. But you can make the cake more interesting by adding in interesting flavors and textures. The same goes for your communication. You may need to let parents know where to go to register for Kindergarten or find child care, but you can get them to pay attention to your online presences if you continually offer them the more interesting, “craveable” information on a regular basis. It keeps them coming back.
An additional thought about maintaining the balance in your engagement recipe: 80% interesting content versus 20% content about more dry, but important information.
This screenshot from CCA Parent Network (NACCRRA) shows a blend of craveable content and “gotta have it” information.
Getting people to pay attention is hard. Appeal to their emotions with posts that are eitherFunnyFunSadShockingScaryTimelyEmotional
People LOVE to win. Even if winning means they receive some kind of recognition instead of a prize. Contests help people become engaged with your organization so they will “follow”, “like”, and or otherwise engage. That paves the way for you to get your message out.
Shocking stories get people’s attention. This is from ChildCare Aware Parent Network.
Posing questions, answering questions, and chiming in on other conversations that are started on social media allows you to build your credibility, build relationships, and sneak in your important information in a meaningful and relevant way.
What’s happening on this FB page?CCRC is:Making people aware of child care and CCR&RAdvocating for children and familiesInforming them about their servicesProviding craveable content
Look familiar? It should! CCRC cross-pollinated the activities on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and traditional media! That means the message is consistent, but they are reaching parents (and other audiences) where they are. Different people on different social media sites at different times.
It’s important to engage your various audiences with one another to build understanding and build core competencies. What do your funders have that’s of value to the parents and providers you serve? How can you engage parents with legislators? What do some of the early childhood educators you connect with on social media have to share with your audiences. Think about what each has to offer the other.
The most effective tool you can use is email, but you have to use it correctly for it to be effective. Research shows that email can be 40%-50% more effective than social media, and when used in combination, the effectiveness of both can be enhanced. Start an email newsletter. Build your email list, and provide craveable information to get parents to engage with you and your website.The CCRC addresses many audiences in The Scoop, their fantastic newsletter. Notice the differences in the messages and their purposes? Another way to handle the various audiences is to segment your lists based on the different types of audiences and only send messages for parents to parents and providers to providers. However, you may miss opportunities to cross pollinate if you segment. It’s worth exploring.
NACCRRA’s Parent Central Express was (is?) an example of segmenting email. As you know, NACCRRA sends out email to members, community members, advocates, and parents. The emails are distinctly different, and worth investigating.
Not everyone has access to a computer with Internet access or a cell phone. But the research shows that more people of various economic backgrounds have mobile devices than have regular access to the Internet. Because mobile devices play many more roles than computers, mobile is quickly becoming an important choice for communicating with target audiences. However, it is important to use communication through mobile devices judiciously.
Everything you do needs to connect to your site so people can connect with you on an individual basis. You have to make all of these various presences connect with one another. This is being pervasive!
You can’t do it all and be everywhere you need to be without the support of your teams, including board members, staff members, evangelists, supporters, funders, and your end-users. To do it all, you need social media policies that emphasize what people can do, not what they can’t do. Provide guidelines that align with NAEYC’s code of ethical conduct and your organization’s policies about privacy, but also ENCOURAGE your peeps to get involved.
There’s no need to start from scratch. Look at examples of organizations that are doing things well. CCRC , NACCRRA, Children’s Defense Fund, MomsRising, NAEYC, and many other organizations are using virtual tactics to reach their target audiences. You can, too. Reach out and ask for help. It’s all around you!
Engaging with Parents Using Social Media in CCR&R
Engaging Parents Top 12* Virtual Tactics* Bonus tip included!<br />Fran SimonEngagement Strategies, LLCMay 2, 2011<br />