Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Media in the Education World

When my team at ABCTE suggested that we get into New Media I’ll admit to being clueless and figured it to be a waste. But it was hard not to give in when I realized it didn’t really take up that much of my time and it didn’t cost anything. Two big pluses when you are working hard to grow an education company on a low budget.

So a year and half ago I started blogging. The point was to get more webhits by having more searchable content that was in demand. It would also bring more links to our page and help build our reputation in the education world.

So we started Dave on Ed and Finding Excellent Teachers. We were lucky enough to make a few blogrolls and start to get noticed. Gradually over the next year we built up to about 100 hits a day just to our blog – respectable for a relatively unknown group. Next we started participating in a “Carnival of Education”. This was a great way for the blog to get noticed and really starting driving traffic. Each week a different education blogger provides a summary and link to the “best of” each education blogger that week. I of course made sure that the search engines knew about each blogpost by hitting Ping O Matic each time. These links continue to build our relevance in search engines. I continue to blog twice per week and while we don’t get huge hits, the number of hits certainly justify the time. And the occasional venting of rage at the education machine is quite cathartic.

The next step was facebook and I will totally admit to feeling like this was useless. I was already on linkedin. But I built a facebook page, totally annoying my kids, and we have one for the organization. I kept a daily post of what we are doing at ABCTE interspersed with some personal stuff. I then added the blogfeed feature to my facebook (and linkedin) and started to develop fans for my blogs which built more traffic.

I was unsure of the impact from all this until this summer after about 6 months of facebook updates. When I go to conferences now and start to talk about what we are doing people already know. I have heard numerous times – “oh yeah I saw that on your facebook”. It is far better than an email or a newsletter or any other method of keeping people up to date on your progress because people will read a headline. They may or may not go to a link and read something long. But in the sound byte world we live in you want to make damn sure people are seeing your progress.

A few months ago we layered twitter onto our new media program. I will admit that I don’t have the time to do this on a personal level but Mike Holden, our amazing PR person, does a great job on an organization wide twitter that covers my blog, our progress, our teachers and other great events. We are starting to get a lot of retweets which continues to keep the PR machine rolling and build more of a following.

A few weeks ago a woman retweeted our twitter of my blogpost, which autofed to my facebook and linkedin about appearing on a Mississippi blogradio station that night. Now that is new media.