PreSchool California

Ashlee Tran, Communications associate
Deb Kong, Director of Communications

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Web Site:
Listening: earlylearning ECE earlychildhood preschool prek prekindergarten

Social Media Lab Preschool California Experiments

Combined listening and Twitter experiment, and a mini-Facebook experiment

• Twitter: establish relationships with journalists; track media coverage; and offer tips, pitches and content to journalists.
• Facebook: increase the number of Facebook fans of Preschool California; increase Facebook fan participation; and increase fan conversions to our subscribers of Preschool California’s email list.

• Twitter: Journalists, early learning advocates
• Facebook: Parents, providers and teachers, other early learning organizations, advocates

Integration with Marketing and Audience Development Plan:
These social media experiments were an important component of Preschool California’s overall communications strategy. With the media landscape shifting from print to online, Preschool California has adjusted its strategy to ensure it is reaching its target audiences through both traditional forms of media and the rapidly growing social media. Preschool California uses social media to share media coverage, upcoming early education events, policy updates and advocacy opportunities. Additionally, Preschool California uses social media to help fill the early learning policy niche within social media; raises awareness of early learning generally and allows us to track media coverage and policy updates. Preschool California’s social media networks have resulted in a high return on investment, increasing participation in advocacy campaigns, website traffic and the number of email list subscribers.

Twitter Experiment Tactics:
• Follow 30 education journalists/media outlets
• Check Twitter journalist lists every morning
• Track coverage trends, education developments
• Scan tweets for media coverage—respond to relevant posts, including thanking journalists for their coverage; retweet posts of interest; and post relevant or interesting coverage
• Use different hashtags and keywords for different posts
• Personalize tweets

Mini-Facebook Experiment Tactics:
• Use unique URL and a special email registration page just for social media users to track email conversions
• Gather data about Facebook users via Insights and Google analytics to target and segment audience
• Use @ to tag groups and friends in posts, to encourage interaction and exposure on other groups Facebook walls

• Our Twitter experiment had mixed results. It was successful towards the beginning of the experiment as there were relevant articles posted by journalists; we were able to engage with them and offer content (e.g. There was a blog item on a related bill Preschool California is sponsoring; we were able to offer more information about the bill.) However, further into our experiment, we found there was fewer relevant articles posted, leaving fewer opportunities to engage meaningfully with reporters.
• Clips receive a lot of feedback or retweets from other followers/advocates
• Following journalists on Twitter was a good way to track media coverage
• Journalists’ usage of Twitter varied widely; Twitter offers another channel to communicate with them
• Tweets are more informal, less time consuming than email so journalists may be more likely to read
• Slight disconnect between those journalists that wrote print stories on early learning issues, and those education journalists that were on Twitter.
• Despite only having a few interactions with reporters, Preschool California still retweeted and commented on a number of articles, garnering responses from other advocates and interested Twitter users, which helped increase our brand and message exposure to a larger audience.

Mini-Facebook Experiment
• Successfully incorporated results tracking, including unique URL and analytics
• Unfortunately, we did not see as many conversions to email subscribers as we had hoped; this is likely because many of our Facebook fans (who have a stronger commitment and interest in early learning than our Twitter followers) were already subscribed to our email list.
• Increase in facebook fan growth (17% vs. 21%)

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Lessons Learned:
• Adjust expectations
• Make sure we targeted who we were following—at the beginning of the journalist experiment, we had far too many journalists to follow, many of whom were only pushing out content for their newspaper.
• Conduct more research on hashtags used by journalists and tag tweets more thoughtfully
• Conduct more research to organize and structure our project before executing the experiment
• Create a list of organizations with which to engage in order to increase exposure on Facebook
• Better integrate Facebook sharing with email messages and advocacy campaigns
• Include an interactive activity for our Facebook users, such as “Post a picture of yourself at Advocacy Day”
• Twitter as a Listening Device: Understanding the value of checking our Twitter feed and journalists list as an overall piece of our communications strategy
• Facebook as a Forum: Facebook is not necessarily the best way to attract email subscribers, but is instead a highly effective method of keeping existing supporters engaged and involved on a more interactive and regular basis
• Beyond Retweets and Responses: Recognizing that even if the specific target audience does not always respond to your content, there is much value to other users seeing and responding to it.

Lab Notes

Name:Deb Kong/Ashlee Tran
Experiment:Journalists and Twitter
Goal: Increase media outreach, story hooks, and tips and leads - that relate to ECE

Observations re: Twitter use
  • Following 28 journalists
  • Have found that this experiment requires a slight adjustment in thinking. Rather than just reading and digesting a reporter's story, I now think about whether they are on Twitter and if that is a good way to connect with them.
  • Making it a practice to check Twitter journalists posts first thing each morning.
  • Listening: the way journalists use this varies widely. Some only push out links to stories, others ask for feedback, have conversations
  • Engaging: What is nice about Twitter is that it seems to be more informal and less time consuming than email and does not add to already full inboxes.
  • Content is important: make sure tweets are targeted and personalized.
  • Journalists seem to vary widely in how they used Twitter. Some only push out links to their stories and content. Others engage with readers.
  • Tweeted today in response to a bilingual education piece by an Education Week writer we have been trying to engage. Used as an opportunity to send to our web section on a recent forum on dual language learners, with resources including video. No response yet.
  • Noticed that a California Watch reporter posted blog item on a media story about early learning quality rating system and directed them to a fact sheet about a related bill (Assembly Bill 2592) that Preschool California is sponsoring. Have not engaged with this reporter, so his response was a good chance to establish contact.
    • Received this response from reporter: @PreschoolCA; Thanks reading the blog and for that heads up on AB 2592!
  • Helpful to see response to stories. Preschool California was quoted in piece on Senate Bill 1381. Piece was retweeted by several education journalists, including USA Today education writer.
    • Good opportunity to make contact with him for first time. Thanked him for flagging, noted that PC was happy to see attention to preparing children for kindergarten.
  • Also tweeted about Education Writers Assn conference, thanking them for including session on how to identify high-quality preschool classrooms and a federal early learning policy update.
    • Good way to get our message out on the federal policy front -- we would like to see early learning included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (aka NCLB) reauthorization.
    • Received a tweet from another person thanking us for pointing out the existence of Education Writers and linking to some early learning resources
  • Learning about how to tag conversations. Advice from Ashlee:
    • My recommendation is tag within the post if you can (use the keywords as part of your tweet), as opposed to sticking all of them at the end of the tweet.
    • Tags:
    • #ECE (early childhood education)
    • #DLL & #ELL (Dual lang. learners & English lang. learners)
    • #earlychildhood
    • #prek
    • #earlylearning
    • #HeadStart
    • Those tend to be the most useful, I think, but in general, if you refer to something specific/proper nouns (e.g. Obama, Congress, etc.) I would tag that as well.

Notes from 4/26 call:
  • Connect with CN on Friend or Follow in Twitter and journalists experiment in general
  • Q: Funnel -- What outcomes will tell us that this experiment has been worth it?

Ashlee's mini project: Setting up a way to track email sign-ups/conversions from Facebook and Twitter.
  • How many visitors from Twitter/Facebook to our site
  • Set-up new registration pages for social networks
  • Add source code accordingly to track traffic (in Analytics and Webtrends)

May 24 Call:
  • Lessons learned thus far from twitter experiment:
    • Good way to track the news/media coverage
    • Difficult to reconcile stories in print coverage with journalists on Twitter
    • Story opportunities are significantly fewer now--how else can we insert ourselves into the conversation but still add value?
  • New twitter resource--Journalists' tweets
    • Not very useful, unfortunately--lists mostly national journalists and cannot segment into education journalists. However, can search by keyword, which could be helpful.
  • Began mini experiment with tracking Google analytics to Facebook.
  • Beth's suggestions: Use hashtags to figure out who is tweeting/following those keywords, and how to reach out to them. I.e. using them as smaller focus groups to target messaging. Not sure how this will concur with targeted messaging in person/print/collateral/etc.

Preschool California Social Media Presentation:

This presentation was given in early October to our entire staff, with the intent of sharing and informing our organization about social media and how we're using it. We spent some time discussing what is Twitter/Facebook, etc. and how are they used. I drew most of the facts from a presentation called "What the F*** is Social Media?" which is available on SlideShare as well (great presentation! I know it's used by a number of social media folks). I've also updated the stats to reflect our most current numbers, but please note that the screen shots used are a bit dated.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks everyone!


See who journalists are following
Add source code to twitter URL; send to a twitter landing page. Enable sign up and email registration on twitter landing page. Optimize and track via analytics.