By Daniel Zhao
The internet has impacted the way most, if not all, industries have evolved. Keeping up with industry trends and available platforms is a job in and of itself. In particular, social media is shaping the way many companies engage with customers and drive sales.
In the education industry, the internet has revolutionized the way people learn and how they interact with their peers. Based on my experience working with social media influencers to engage students, I’d like to share three tips for entrepreneurs in any industry.
Learn how your target audience is using social media.
You can never stay hot for too long in the world of social media. One minute Snapchat is the app of the hour, the next it’s Instagram, and the cycle continues. Social media has secured credibility in recent years as a trusted source of information not only for news but also as a platform for consumers to engage with companies and exchange information.
My company’s target audience is students, and we have found that students today use social media in ways that are foreign to generations that did not grow up in the digital age. For example, “study with me” videos have become a popular internet sensation among youth. My company decided to capitalize on this opportunity by partnering with YouTube influencers to learn how students are using YouTube to study; we then applied that information to our platform to better help our users succeed academically.
Understanding how your target audience is using and benefiting from social media is critical to success. This applies to any business. Many companies are under the impression that all there is to social media is a simple press of a button to post content, but that’s not where the value lies. Building your presence is important, but understanding why you have that presence will help you properly utilize your channels and benefit in multiple ways.
To do so, connect with your target audience and customers. Create surveys, send personal emails or even make phone calls to understand how your customers are using social media and in what ways your business can have a valuable impact. Get a deeper understanding of your audience behavior and which channels you should focus on.
Identify why certain platforms are working.
When sifting through the social media landscape, a key priority is understanding and identifying why certain platforms are working. What about certain channels make your target audience inclined to use them?
When speaking to one of our YouTube partners, we discovered this community of “study together” videos had been booming for the last few years. We found that there were numerous reasons students were turning to YouTube when it came time to study. Whether it was to have a “buddy” or merely to learn from someone other than a tutor, our target customers were engaging with this platform in a way we hadn’t seen before.
Connecting with partners has enabled us to dig deeper into the world of online learning and helped us further develop features for our own platform. I believe every entrepreneur can learn from this example. Finding that outside party to provide valuable insights is a crucial element to success.
If you’re looking to establish a partnership with an influencer, you can be certain they are getting cold emails on a regular basis. To differentiate yourself, provide your potential partner with something that can help advance their career; this is a two-way street. Directly address why you are reaching out to them and how your partnership will be beneficial. Let them know why your goals align and how you can work together to create a successful partnership.
Understand the trends.
Once you have done your homework and established concrete partnerships, it’s vital to understand where the trends are headed. In our case, we saw that not only were students using social media to communicate with one another, but academic institutions were relying heavily on social media to communicate as well.
It’s important to research what others in your industry are doing to reach the same audiences. Various sectors within our industry are using platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Google Plus to connect with students. Students want to collaborate and have someone available for support. We saw a heavy focus on group communication, which led us to configure a group study function on our own platform.
All entrepreneurs can learn from this example by taking the time to see what trends their audiences are following and why these trends tend to be working. Make time on a weekly basis to read your industry and social media marketing publications to understand how the landscape is growing and shifting. Overall, continue to evaluate your social media strategies through the lens of industry trends and your target audience to help you determine the next course of action.
Feature Image Credit: Pexels
By Daniel Zhao
Daniel Zhao is founder of StudyGate Inc., an online tutoring service.