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4 steps your school can take to boost its digital health

Last time we went into depth about where your school stands on the digital curve! Remember? (If not…check out the post here and get up to speed.) You probably have a fair idea of where you are on the curve now. Below is an action plan of the steps you might want to take to improve your school’s digital health.

1. Do a digital health check

Who needs to do this: Every school at every level.. That means *you*.

How often: Technology constantly shifts, so I would recommend taking a long hard look at your digital health at least once every 6 months.

How do schools do it? This really isn’t as scary as it sounds. It’s mostly just asking yourself questions about your school’s online presence.

  1. Start by Googling… ‘teaching jobs in (insert your school’s country/location)’. Does your school appear in the results? What does? This is the very method employed by 80% of job seeking educators. If you aren’t one of the first results, you’re invisible to the vast majority of teachers – the 95% that look for their roles online first.
  2. Now visit your website, what do you think? The same with your social media presence. Look at every single piece of information you can find about your school online. Fact: the conversation is going on whether you’re part of it or not. If you heard your school being spoken about by an interested applicant on the street, would you want to hear their thoughts? Would you engage? My bet is that you wouldn’t ignore it. Let’s find ways to identify and facilitate these conversations where they’re happening – online.
  3. The next step is to be honest about your social. Are people interacting? If so, with what? If not, why not? This audit is all about thinking about what you are doing well, and what could do with a ‘digital boost’.
  4. Check out how your job postings and website appear on different devices, is it mobile-friendly? 50 % of mobile traffic today is.. And growing.. If your job advertisements aren’t optimized for mobile, they may as well be written on a chalkboard.
  5. Call a quick informal focus group with teachers that you feel fit the profile of your ‘ideal teacher’. What are their thoughts? How do they think your digital presence could be improved. Importantly – what do they *love* about the school that isn’t explained on your website/social channels? Which channels are lacking? *HINT- INSTAGRAM!*
  6. Compile all the results. Dump it all in a doc or a spreadsheet and look for correlations. What are the things everyone feels you need to improve? That’s a good place to start.
  7. Now compare them to our 3 archetypes: Laggard, Hanger-On, Digitally-Saavy? and be honest about where your school stands today.
  8. Think about what parts of your digital presence need improving and get to work! Start at the bottom of whatever bit of the curve you land on, and work forward.

2. Get out the measuring tape and free up some budget for digital

Who needs this: Unless you’re doing everything right. *you*.

How often: Once measurement is in place it should be regular, there are plenty of digital tools and there’s no need to wait until year’s end to see if your strategy is working. If you wait that long, it will already be too late. In education, budgets should be meticulously and carefully allocated. If you’re asking what the ROI of digital marketing is for your school? It’s whether or not your school will exist in 5 years.

Digital technology evolves quickly. This lends itself to an agile, experimental mindset – which allows schools to make decisions quickly. So dabble – see what works – and do more of that.

How schools do it:

  1. Start measuring and establish benchmarks – what are you spending on, external and internal? Be as accurate as possible with the figures, these are going to help you measure your successes going further, and what has been measured and understood can be replicated! Can you figure out what you spend hiring and retaining teachers? How much of that money do you think could be put to better use online?
  2. Now ✂ CUT ✂ something. Once you know what you’re spending on, it will be easier to see where you can make a change. It should be something that saves you time and money and reduces risk.*HINT*: I suggest traditional job fairs – because only 12% of candidates are searching for jobs at fairs. And quite frankly, of those 12% – how confident are you that they’re the best?

    But it might be something else. Measurement helps you step back and evaluate what’s actually working based on data. It’s the meat of the decision making done for you. Stop making decisions based on your instincts, Gandalf.

  3. Now, what are you going to do with that extra time, money – what low-risk options are there that will give you the best results? This is about giving yourself options so that you can invest back into your school’s online presence.

3. Implement an employee advocacy strategy!

What is it?The important question to ask yourself is how many of your applications come from referrals? If you know and this is in place, then you already have an advocacy strategy. Now what if you could increase the reach of your most vocal advocates? This is where social/web comes in…

Who needs it: Schools that want to dramatically reduce their cost per hire and leverage their best asset – their employees – to find new like minded team members.

How often: This is an initiative that perpetually succeeds.. It’s an ongoing effort. My challenge to you is to start this week.

How schools do it:

  1. You’ve done your homework – you understand the problem but you’re overwhelmed about what to do with the knowledge. Well, an easy win for digital is an advocacy strategy.
  2. Some schools don’t know what to post online, but it’s pretty simple, ask your teachers! They are your advocates. What are they doing at your school? Why do they stay? What’s great about teaching there? Collect those stories and use them.
  3. Build your digital strategy around the teachers, get them to share content and become thought leaders for the school. You will be surprised how many people have a blogger buried deep inside just waiting for the opportunity to be given a platform.
  4. Think of yourself as ‘Chief Storyteller’ for your school. You need to protect and promote that story. Even something as simple as a Twitter account can humanize your presence – you need to be the best example of the school’s culture.

4. Grow your digital advantage – the icing on the top of your digital cake.

Who needs it: All schools, but particularly those that are in the digital minority (i.e. ahead of the curve) This is the ‘empty-net goal’, the ‘walk-off’. For schools already doing well – this is how they stay one step ahead of laggard schools.

How often: this isn’t a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’. Unfortunately there is no info-mercial. This is a new reality and potentially a real cultural evolution for your school. (Queue ear-to-ear smiles of your board, who will eat this up as a competitive advantage over other schools in your area)

Right. How schools do it:

  1. Advertising on industry-relevant (think: education) job boards. While job searches have largely moved online, that doesn’t mean that all online channels are created equal. A clear majority (76%, in fact) of current job seekers prefer education specific job boards.
  2. Keeping their eye on how the job-search game has evolved. You heard it here first: Google entering the recruitment space this year is a game changer for tech-savvy school heads. It means that teachers will be able to find your job and school instantly and directly through Google. Of course, this only works if you know how to optimize your job postings and school website so you show up in the first place. Here’s a guide to get started.PS: A good workaround if you don’t have the time or money to invest in a team of tech whizzes – make sure you’re posting your vacancies on a recruiting platform that knows how to get your jobs pulled into Google search results. (*Cough* –
  3. Joining online conversations around education. This is about getting your school’s name out there. Why not hop on some forums, sign up for online fairs or just answer people’s queries in a relevant Facebook group. There are a million ways to reach out to teachers, and if you don’t, some other school will.
  4. Proactive management of all social accounts. Don’t let these slide. It’s better to do one channel well than three channels poorly. Think about what channels work well for your school: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, tend to be where most teachers are hanging out.
  5. Search engine optimization (SEO). This is probably the hardest step and we recommend piggybacking off a relevant site who already has a strong SEO presence teaching job opportunities in your city, country and region. Companies pour money into their SEO rankings and you could go blue in the face trying to keep up.
  6. Developing personal development strategies and online training to keep teachers moving forward. Your website needs to show that you care about your students. Maybe you can write a quick paragraph or showcase photos from a recent PD event.
  7. Using digital recruitment tools like online job fairs, listings and databases. This allows you to connect with candidates in the places they’re already job searching. Job posting on the internet is simply step one, you need to proactively go after them.So what that looks like is:
    1. Many teachers sign up for teacher databases so they can communicate directly with schools and have their profile front and center when schools are seeking new talent. If your school doesn’t have access to those databases, you will be missing out on a waiting list of great teachers.
    2. Teachers don’t have the time or the money to trudge halfway across the world to an in-person job fair. A lot of them sign up for alternative options that save them both time and money (online fairs is a convenient way of grabbing these teachers’ attention).

The information is out there, it’s time to find it, utilize it and make sure your a school is part of the global online conversation.

(Shameless plug time)

I would love to get into details with anyone curious about their school’s digital health. I’m always up for a call if you want to book a time on my Calendly, or you can always drop a comment below. Whatever you choose to do, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Originally published on LinkedIn.