When your Social Media reach counts for something

chain of love
Social media allows you to reach out to people

This week I’m pleased to host another guest blog, this time from my friend and colleague, Elaine Walton who’s getting some good responses to a high profile questionnaire using her social media reach.  Here’s how.

I work at Learning Pool, where I manage Modern Governor e-learning for School Governors.  A few months ago I offered my support to the Department for Education who wanted to survey school governors about their knowledge of/attitudes towards school finance and procurement.

In my (limited) experience traditional survey methods (usually paper-based) tend to lead to poor response rates, and a huge administration burden on the poor soul collating them. They’re also quite time-consuming for the person who wants to respond.

In fact, as I write this, I’m thinking of the 3 completed surveys for charity organisations, which are either at the bottom of my handbag or on the table by my front door waiting to be posted…

I wanted to demonstrate to the DfE that online surveys can be fast, cost-effective, successful and a great way to reach a larger group of people than perhaps might be reached using paper-based surveys.  To do this, I had to publicise the survey using all of the suitable online communication channels I’ve built up.

Elaine Walton
Elaine Walton has built up an impressive reach using social media

Modern Governor has a huge online community already.  As well as circa 20,000 Governors accessing our e-learning modules we have over 1,800 followers on Twitter, over 400 Facebook fans, about 8,000 subscribers to our monthly newsletter and more than 2,000 blog subscribers.

I genuinely have no idea how this stacks up against other commercial companies, but I’m rather proud as it means that people have appreciated my ramblings for the last 2 and a half years and that maybe I’ve been (inadvertently) doing something right!

As well as the Modern Governor community, I have my own online network too.  In a recent blog I talked about how I use the different social media networks. For publicising this DfE survey, LinkedIn was the best route for me as that’s where a lot of my Governance connections are.

I used Survey Monkey for the first time, on Janet’s recommendation – and it’s brilliant.

Although there’s a fabulous questionnaire tool in Moodle (the platform on which Modern Governor is developed), the DfE wanted the survey to remain anonymous. Anonymous Moodle questionnaires are possible once you log in, but I didn’t want to send out involved instructions.

Survey Monkey is cost-effective, easy to set-up and gives real-time stats on the number of responses. The survey output also looks easy to use.

Here are 10 things I learned about utilising your online networks:

  1. LinkedIn is underrated. I sent out a short note to all my school governance contacts, and received messages back almost straightaway from quite a few saying that they would publicise the survey to their governors.
  2. Don’t be afraid to schedule tweets – but stay human, don’t automate everything! I use Tweetdeck on the laptop during the day, but often am too busy to tweet regularly. I spend a few minutes each morning scheduling a handful of tweets which will appear during the day just in case I forget or get tied up doing other stuff.
  3. Don’t email/post to all your networks at the same time. There’s likely to be a crossover, and people will switch off if they suddenly get bombarded from all angles.
  4. Don’t cross-post from Twitter to Facebook or LinkedIn. # and @ mean nothing outside of Twitter and just confuse people.
  5. Pinning a post to the top of the new Facebook timeline helps it to stand out – but it only stays there for 7 days.
  6. Say thanks if people RT your message – it takes a few seconds and goes a long way!
  7. Track links using bit.ly if you have time (can be configured within Survey Monkey collector)
  8. Keep an eye on traffic spikes to learn the best communication channels. The 3 biggest spikes for this survey so far have been (in no particular order):
    • When the DfE tweeted the link to our homepage
    • When I added a link to it from our Modern Governor platform
    • When I emailed the link to Co-ordinators of Governor Services
  9. Add a link to the survey on your email signature
  10. Don’t get too hung-up on “the best time to X”. Often the most unexpected times are the most successful!

I’m pleased with our survey results so far but, more importantly, so is my contact at DfE. The survey closes in a few weeks time and we’re hoping for a few more responses yet.

So, just in case you too are a school governor and would like to tell DfE what you think about how governors and governing bodies are currently involved in improving efficiency in their schools please click here.  The survey is open until Mon 30 April and should take you no more than 10 minutes.

Thank you.

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