When it comes to Instagram influencers, you’re likely picturing young celebrities promoting the latest hot trend. But there’s another group that’s spending time exerting influence over young people on social media: teachers. They’ve mastered the art of connecting virtually, according to new research from MDR.
Teachers aren’t surfing mindlessly, though; they’re using social media to enhance their professional development, share exciting classroom ideas and materials, and shop for school supplies. Nearly 80% of teachers spend between 15 minutes and one hour each day on Instagram during the week, and the majority spend even more time there on weekends. They have no plans to let up, either: 44% predict they’ll increase their social use within the next two years.
This type of activity should interest marketers striving to make inroads in the education market. As the “Teachers as Consumers” study notes, teachers engage on social more frequently than the general public — with some building significant followings that position them to become tomorrow’s influencers.
Already, teachers have shown openness toward posting and reading sponsored online content. The WeAreTeachers influencer network reveals that teachers actively follow brands on Instagram and would be willing to jump into the fray as influential voices for emerging products and services. As long as they’re passionate about the item or concept, they’ll thoughtfully share it with their followers. This influence can include reaching many roles in school communities, including students, parents, colleagues at their school, and other educators nationwide.
Many forward-leaning organizations have paved the way for building relationships with education influencers. Stitch Fix, for example, sent a select group of teachers subscription boxes filled with classroom-ready outfits. That resulted in teachers sharing information about Stitch Fix with more than 156,000 peers on Facebook and Instagram.
Likewise, Wonder Workshop gave coding robots to a few key educator partners who were big Instagram users, asking them to talk about their experience using the robots in their classrooms. The buzz on social media helped create brand recognition among its target audience of K-12 educators.
Gen Z (born between 1996 and 2010) makes up most of the school-aged student population today, and Gen Zers expect to interact with teachers online. Per MDR data, students actively look to their favorite teachers’ pages for suggestions on everything from career counseling to smarter studying. Gen Zers spend several hours a day, five days a week, in the classroom with their teachers. This makes teachers natural role models and influencers in kids’ day-to-day lives, and their influence extends to virtual settings once kids leave school for the day.
Members of Gen Alpha (born in 2010 and after) are on track to be more educated than their Millennial parents, and they tend to sway those parents when it comes to purchasing tech. Getting their approval — and, therefore, their parents’ approval — could provide a boost for any brand.
Besides, it’s wise to move away from traditional marketing and advertising tactics when trying to reach a younger audience. Kids aren’t watching TV; they’re interacting with Alexa and diving into videos and games on their devices. Classroom teachers active on Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat — where Gen Z spends quite a bit of time — can introduce brands to their audiences in fresh, authentic ways.
If you’re ready to connect with these influential teachers — and, in turn, tap into their audience of students, parents, colleagues, and other connections — there are a few steps you can take to get started:
1. Follow influencers in your space. Search relevant hashtags on Instagram, look at who people in your industry are tagging or interacting with, and look at competitors to see what they’re working on. Any time an educator with a large social presence mentions you or interacts with your brand online, save that post! You’ll want to be sure to thank that person for the mention and begin building a relationship so you can follow up later if you’re interested in a partnership.
As you’re documenting the influencers you might be interested in pursuing a partnership with, don’t feel like you need fancy software to get started — all you need is a spreadsheet.
2. Document your plan. Before reaching out to an influencer, be sure to have a well-thought-out and documented plan in place. Determine what the call to action for posts will be, what your budget is, what you’ll offer as compensation, and what metrics you’ll be reporting on afterward. Also, be sure to have an A list and a B list of your top influencer choices and your secondary choices so you can maintain your momentum, even if the first group doesn’t get back to you.
3. Craft your pitch. Next, you’ll want to put together a personalized pitch email that clearly outlines what you’d like the influencer to do and asks whether he or she is interested. In your email, make sure you show the teacher that you’re already following him or her and have been reading his or her content. For example, you might mention a specific post that you found helpful.
Once you get a positive response, send along creative assets, tracking links, and any key points you’d like included in the influencer’s content.
4. Follow up. After you’ve sent out your pitch email to the influencer, be sure to follow up if you haven’t heard back. Think of it like following up after an interview. It’s generally best to do one follow-up after the initial outreach to give the influencer one last chance to get back to you. But when you do this, consider your timing. When you’re reaching out to a teacher, give him or her a few extra days or even a week to respond during busy times like back-to-school season, the end of the school year, or that well-deserved summer vacation.
Of course, nothing will ever replace in-person interactions between kids, parents, and education professionals. But social media continues to broaden the reach of teachers in today’s digital world, where class is never dismissed.
What industries or businesses do you think would be a good fit for teachers on Instagram?