Monday, November 15, 2010

The Business of Education

A year ago, I was in a workshop with a group of other educators when an interesting discussion developed. We were deconstructing advertisements and discussing the pedagogy of media studies. Somehow, the discussion shifted to talking about schools as businesses. With opened ears, I listened as they criticized a number of policies and practices that they attributed to the evils of business theory. I agree that our product and profit is very different than a regular business, but I think the education system lacks the visionary and competitive thinking of the business world. So, for this blog I'd like apply the strategies from Cohen's What's Wrong with Social Marketing? to the school I teach at. Hopefully, the ideas I share here can be applied to other schools, or better yet, other organizations.

Encourage employees to participate in social media as company representatives
There are a few teachers at my school that participate in social media as a professional practice. Mainly, these few staff members are using twitter and nings as well as blogs. Through their PLNs they’ve been able to develop an online reputation for our school. As a result, we see special programs come to our school and get recognition from board administration.

Integrate social media marketing into annual corporate budgeting and marketing planning processes
We have a shrinking school population. As an English public school in Quebec, we are very restricted to who can attend our school. As the English population disintegrates from the community, and Quebec at large, we are faced with school closures and extremely restrictive budgets. Every year the school board places a small ad in the local newspaper about our school. Last year, the English School Boards Association developed a campaign, “Go Publique”, to promote English schools. Social media is an untapped avenue for marketing our product to a targeted audience without accruing the huge costs of regular media campaign.

Create social media-friendly content on a regular basic
Schools generate a lot of warm-fuzzy news that is great for social media. I used to try to update the website with recent fundraiser results, successful school projects, and student achievements. Updating the website became unmanageable with the frequency of updates so I switched to a blog. Luckily, the principal has taken over the blog and made it a success. Now, I’m wondering if social media communities might be good way to go.

Extend the reach of company events online
The school does a lot of exciting events and it’s difficult to draw out the numbers from the community. Normally, when we have an event, like last year’s Fashion Show fundraiser, our best marketing tool is CBC radio. However, CBC broadcasts to Anglos nationwide (QC) which is akin to using a bulldozer to make a sandcastle. A social media community could be an easy way to reach out to alumni and school supporters. Social media marketing could also provide an easy way to reach our target audience.

Gather customer input and feedback for market research purposes
A lot of misconceptions about schools can develop in a community, as I’ve learned. Social media can be an excellent way to become aware of misconceptions or weaknesses and develop a strategy to address them.

Expand human resources' reach and effectiveness
Good schools are a result of good staff. We have a seriously difficult time attracting the right staff to our school. With targeted marketing through social media we can get the young, qualified professionals that we’re seeking.

1 comment:

  1. I actually do agree with what you stated above on social media's importance. In today's modern world, 70% of our potential costumers are surfing the different social medias day to day, and it's highly important that we learn useful marketing methods in that area.