Open Day is perhaps one of the most important days in your school's calendar - it is THE best way to truly sell your school to prospective parents and children. Traditional marketing is all well and good, regardless of whether it is through print; social media; email; word of mouth; or any other popular format, but it can only offer a finite experience. Open Day's allow you to fill in the gaps and provide prospectives with a complete, organic overview of your school.
Much has been argued on the subject of social media, particularly in relation to Millennials, in recent years:
- is it good or bad?
- is it actually harming young minds?
- is it creating a generation far more removed on a social / relationship basis?
Understanding these impacts is essential if we are to best prepare our younger generations.
We can regard social media as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it enables a platform for users to share amazing stories and to interact with communities on a global scale. But on the other hand, concerns around self-esteem and the growing fear of Social Networking Addiction underlie fears of social media use.
The reality is that whatever the impact of social media, it is here to stay.
Dopamine and social media
The use of mobile tech and social media has been proven to release dopamine - the "feel good" chemical - in our brains. We receive a text, we get a hit of dopamine. We get a Like on Facebook, we get a hit of dopamine. Someone has commented on our Instagram post, we get a hit of dopamine.
Simon Sinek - author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant - identifies social media as having heavily addictive consequences; particularly on the Millennial generation.
Tech = instant gratification
Simon identifies that we live in a world of instant gratification, easily facilitated by social media and mobile technology. The way that we now interact, shop and entertain ourselves is led by the notion of instant gratification.
You want to buy something, you go to Amazon. You want to watch a show, you binge entire seasons on Netflix and streaming services. You want to seek companionship, you swipe right on Tinder and similar dating apps.
The impact of this is a generation growing up without the values of patience instilled in them. This means that important factors of adult-life, like professional work and love, become more difficult to manage.
Realistically, there are no quick fixes for such things - they require time and hard work to achieve.
What can we do?
While there is no simple answer, tech today is having an impact that we are still learning to understand, there are steps we can take:
- remove the temptation: one of the major changes we see with mobile tech is where we charge our devices. For most, this will be overnight by the bed. Try to change this, charge mobiles in another room for example. This will help remove the temptation of looking at your phone first thing in the morning or even going on your phone when you are struggling to sleep
- take a #DigitalDetox: we all need down time from the hustle and bustle of our working (or learning) days. When this comes around look to do activities that are not based on the phone or in front of a screen. Go outside and enjoy nature. Connect with friends and family face-to-face (FaceTime does not count)
- turn off notifications (even for a little bit): we all know that sound, and we all know that without thinking you will be checking your phone instantly. Take away this reaction by turning off notifications. You may miss the odd Instagram like or not be aware that Lady Gaga is doing a LIVE-stream, but that's ok!
Social media is not going anywhere and there is a real danger that it can become an addiction for many young users. We need to understand that social media can have real effects on people and prepare ourselves for safe social media use.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic - please comment below.
For some of the biggest technological innovations of our history, we can measure success by at the level of users. Hitting the coveted 50 million users mark is a sure sign of triumph, but how quickly are top technologies taking to reach this magic number?
If we compare some of the biggest consumer products from the last 250 years, we can easily identify a trend. In today's tech-fuelled and tech-led world, top products are reaching high levels of consumers in incredibly short amounts of time.
Old school tech
Back in 1874, Alexander Graham Bell delivered the first phone to the public (though the phone was truly first invented by Italian innovator Antonio Meucci in 1849). In 1877 the first telephone line was constructed, the first switchboard created and the first telephone exchange was in operation. It took 3 years for the phone to be in the homes of nearly 50,000 people.
75 years later the phone was in homes of 50 million people, on a global level. In comparison, it took the radio just 38 years to have 50 million owners and the television (something that was deemed as too expensive to really take off as a popular consumer product) as little as 13 years!
Communication tech revolution
These technologies truly revolutionised the way we communicate with and viewed the world. Then came the World Wide Web, in 1989. Invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web took the world by storm. In a short 4 years, 50 million users were surfing the internet. Once again, the face of communication technology has been reinvented. In fact, this could be regarded as the true beginning of today's interconnected world.
The rise of social
From the internet we got social media. Out of his Harvard dorm, a 19-year old Mark Zuckerberg released thefacebook.com in 2004. Today we of course know this as Facebook; the world's largest social media network with over 2 BILLION users! It took Facebook just two years to hit the 50 million mark.
Despite its popularity today, this is actually quite slow compared to other social media channels. Instagram took a little less than two years (around 19 months to be more precise). Interestingly it was not until Facebook's acquisition of Instagram (in 2012) that this number was quickly hit.
YouTube and Twitter were even faster, 10 months and nine months respectively.
The rise of the app store
Amazingly, with the simple availability and popularity of mobile apps, reaching 50 million users seems to be getting faster and faster. Highly popular games such as Angry Birds or Candy Crush are doing this in less than two months! That's 60 days for one app to be downloaded by 50 million people.
If we were to put that into perspective, it would equal the the entire population of South Korea downloading downloading these apps in two months time. To date, the fastest downloaded app of all time is Pokémon GO. In 19 days, this AR game was in the hands of 50 million people. 19 days!!!
We predict tech will continue to follow this trend. It won't be long until a new app is downloaded at such incredible rates that 50 million users will be reached in days, not weeks! We wonder what app it will be?
For the past 4 years, we have collected our thoughts on future trends and emerging technology for the coming year.
It’s a useful record for schools to look at what to focus on for the year, and what to start thinking about.
Time to dust off our crystal ball, reflect on 2017, and look to the future.
Here we go...
Still going to grow from 2017
2017 saw an emergence of chatbots (AI that conducts conversation). You may not even realise you’re speaking to a chatbot - but these services have been implemented across multiple businesses and industries to help with a variety of means.
We expect chatbots to continue to grow, particularly in the ‘support’ field, where most questions are regular queries that a chatbot can easily answer.
Facebook Messenger is an example platform to build a chatbot. Parents can use it as a ‘help guide’, particularly for usual support queries about using the ‘Parent Portal’, or accessing the school calendar.
Alternatively, you can install one onto your website to help with simple queries and instructions.
For example, a chatbot could be installed on your website to help with admissions enquiries. If a person goes on to the ‘Admissions Process’ page, the service could pop up, introduce itself, and offer guidance and tips for your school’s admissions process - and answer any queries the person has.
Voice will continue its upward trajectory - as user adoption accelerates. We expect more companies (and schools) to invest in developing voice interfaces.
This will most likely be on the Alexa platform first, as Amazon controls around 70% of the smart speaker market (eMarketer).
Yet, Apple are coming into the mix in 2018 with their HomePod - and you can never underestimate Apple.
It is sure to be an exciting one to watch.
 New video formats
2017 saw a variety of new video formats - from ‘square video with captions’ to ‘circular videos on Snapchat’.
Video will continue to grow, and the formats will keep evolving to grab attention and drive engagement.
We expect to see more schools using fully immersive 360 video - and to develop their VR content.
New predictions for 2018
 Exponential growth in AR
AR has been a fun trend to watch over the years, but it’s about to get real. We have an convergence of powerful tech, improving platforms, and mass adoption.
People are using AR every day - but probably do not realise the technology behind it. For example, Snapchat filters are augmented reality - and so is Snapchat's 'Dancing Hotdog'.
Apple introduced ARKit in iOS11 last year, which gives developers like us new ways of building AR experiences for iPhones.
We expect to see new and exciting developments for schools with regards to teaching / learning, and the promotion / marketing of schools.
 Internet of Things
As the Internet of Things (IoT) movement continues to grow, we expect to see even more devices entering the market - as well as more integration with schools.
From fun uses such as:
- Playing a sound in the science department every time the International Space Station flies overhead
- Flashing your home lights green every time you child’s team scores a goal/point, and flashing red every time they concede.
To more useful implementations:
- Aggregating data from security cameras or wearable devices to track student traffic patterns in order to better plan timetables and hallway designs
- Monitoring and adjusting the temperature in classrooms based on data for optimal student performance
 More voice integrated tech, less typing
Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana guide us through this AI revolution. Smart speakers, powered by their smart assistants, will increasingly populate our homes. They will be improving significantly over time and serve up more personalisation, useful content and… of course… ads).
With 1 in 4 searches on a mobile being through voice, people are already interacting with their devices beyond typing already.
Toyota and Lexus have committed to adding Alexa into their cars by the end of 2018. And hotel chains, such as Marriott, are already testing Alexa in their hotel rooms.
Picture a parent driving to work after a fabulous night of music at the school…
‘Alexa, ask [Your School] to replay the concert from last night’
In 2018, Alexa will be everywhere…
 More automation in School Marketing
The biggest challenge we hear from schools we speak to is often TIME. We all want more time, and we can actually reclaim time through simple adjustments.
When we go into schools and audit their systems and processes, we always find inefficiencies. Lots of duplication of data/content, and lots of repetitive tasks.
Automation can save you time. For example, how long does your weekly newsletter take to put together? Ours takes just five minutes to put together and send to parents. Yes, really.
That’s just one product we’ve built to not only save our schools time/money, but to increase engagement too.
 #SchoolStories Adoption
2018 will be another year focussed on sharing your amazing #SchoolStories. It's what makes every school unique - and every day schools are capturing moments for parents to engage with.
The challenge for most schools is:
a) finding out what’s going on / collecting the stories from teachers
b) aggregating and sharing stories into the channels parents spend time in (email newsletters, website, parent portal etc.)
We continue to develop more seamless integrations with 3rd party providers to allow schools to easily collect and share their stories.
Interactive Schools also continue to support our clients with first-class staff training, strategic vision, and consultancy.
 Amazon as a marketing platform
Amazon is continuing it journey of basically eating up every vertical possible - and will continue this in 2018, and beyond. As it evolves from Amazon Prime, Amazon Video, Amazon Now, Amazon Grocery, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Echo, into newer products, it will build even more customer loyalty.
With more Amazon touch-points, there becomes newer ways to advertise on their platforms - and to get in-front of their customers.
We expect Amazon to develop their advertising services further, and for schools to start thinking beyond just Facebook and Google as their core online ad providers.
 Wider integration of marketing team across the school
An aim for us, in 2017, was to spend more time with schools to understand their unique challenges. We looked at the wider view beyond just marketing, and gained some fascinating insights, and problems to help solve.
Schools are looking for more than just a specific problem to solve - such as ‘we need a new website!’ - to engaging in more in a partner-focussed relationship with agencies to help ensure their digital specialism can drive valuable business results.
- Teachers (blogs, Twitter, YouTube)
- Recruitment (school website, Facebook ads)
- Parent Engagement (newsletters, parent portal)
- Alumnae / Development (newsletters, social media)
We expect to see more integration between marketing and other departments in 2018.
 More focus on the end-user
People react more to personalised user experience. That’s why we use Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook - because they know us better than we know ourselves!!
Understanding people – what they want and how they interact with your different touch-points at every stage of their journey, is essential.
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to deliver a personal experience to each user (prospective families, prospective teachers, current families etc.) is a reality, and can be delivered TODAY by using the right technology.
 Messaging vs Social Media
There’s been a trend over the past few years towards more sharing through private messaging apps, than through traditional social media channels.
People are setting up private networks (WhatsApp Groups, FB Messenger, Slack etc.) to connect with friends and colleagues.
We expect this trend to continue, and for schools to start adopting a ‘Messaging Strategy’ as another way to communicate and share with parents in the channels they spend time in.
 Smart glasses might FINALLY make a breakthrough
From Google Glass to Snapchat Spectacles, the tech world keep pushing smart glasses - but the market keeps declining.
There are a number of reasons why we have yet to adopt smart glasses on a mass scale. Yet, the tech wold continues to develop and create new products.
Could this year be the year a startup (or existing company) finally make a breakthrough?
 Blockchain applications for education
You’ve probably heard a lot recently around cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. There’s a lot of hype and speculation - but one thing is for sure. Blockchain technology has the capability to change the world.
We would urge you to spend some time reading up about the capabilities and potential impact that blockchains can have.
Over the next few years, we will see more companies and products emerging into the blockchain field - and education will likely be one of those.
Blockchain has the potential to help improve a number of areas in education, including databases, CPD, assessments, certification.
In December 2017, Sony patented an application for managing data within education.
 Schools to accept Bitcoin for school fees… 😉
Yeah… maybe that’s one for our 2020 predictions.
What do you think? Are you seeing these trends? What do you think schools should be aware of in 2018?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Oh yes, and don't forget to subscribe to #SchoolBytes for more weekly school marketing articles!
 Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality [CORRECT]
We said: The technology and behaviour around VR and AR will evolve over the next 12 months, and further.
2017 has seen VR and AR come along in leaps and bounds. It is clear that the applications offered by VR and AR have a long way to go, but in a relatively short amount of time both platforms are readily available to everyday consumers.
- For VR, we have Google Card (incredibly cheap, to be used with a mobile device) and a whole variety of VR headsets, such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and gaming headsets like PlayStation VR.
- For AR, the introduction of ARKit on the new iPhone models has brought augmented reality into the homes of millions.
VR and AR will undoubtedly remain a trend throughout 2018, expanding into other sectors outside entertainment. Keep an eye on the education industry in particular, as VR and AR become key learning tools both inside and outside the classroom. Google expeditions is already a prime example of this!
 Live-streaming [CORRECT]
We said: It’s becoming clearer that live video on social platforms is the trend for 2017. We’ll start to see live-streaming move way beyond just early-adopters and into the hands of the mainstream users.
2017 started with a big advertising push from Facebook, as they looked to dominate the live-streaming industry with Facebook LIVE. Fast forward to 2018 and having a live-streaming seems the "in thing" for major social channels.
What live-streaming service should I use?
Facebook LIVE: as with most things social, Facebook is the biggest in terms of community and reach. It is proving a fantastic channel to help businesses engage with followers.
Periscope (Twitter): if you are already using Twitter as your main social media outlet, because you’ve found success there, Periscope can help you stand out further in feeds and encourage greater engagement then you were already receiving. It is not necessarily as far reaching as Facebook, but it is a better platform for encouraging new followers.
Instagram LIVE: not strictly a live-streaming service, Instagram LIVE is instead an add-on and lives with Instagram Stories. Because it only lasts 24 hours it is more disposable.
YouTube LIVE: video is the natural home of video, and live-streaming will be coming to users soon. While it is currently available, it is restricted to users with significantly large subscribers. When it becomes more mainstream, Facebook and Twitter can expect a battle here!
 A Video First World [CORRECT]
We said: We're in a video-first marketing era. In 2017, video content is the #1 focus for many marketers. Whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, video is playing a big part in reaching new audiences, and engaging with current fans.
Video remains the biggest marketing trend in 2017. Coined by Facebook, "Video First" refers to the growing phenomenon of consumers not only wanting to consume video, but also to produce it.
The Video First world will continue to dominate, as more and more apps, and major social networks continue to develop tools based in video.
Here are some fascinating facts around the current state of video marketing (source):
- 85% of videos are played without sound on Facebook
- using the word "video" in the subject of an email increases the view-rate by 19%
- almost 50% of Internet users are looking for videos related to a product or service before going to the store
- 48% additional marketers are considering adding YouTube to their content strategy next year
Back by hugely popular demand is our Filming and Editing #SchoolVideo on your Mobile Devices workshop, in collaboration with EyeFilm.
- WHEN? Feb 19 2018 📅
- WHERE? London (venue tbc) 🌍
- HOW MUCH? FREE!!! 🎟
Book below, tickets are selling out fast!
 Chatbots [CORRECT]
We said: The question 6 years ago was ‘should we have an app?’, but fast-forward to 2016 and the questions currently are around chatbots.
Keen social media users may have already noticed how automated things like customer support have become. Have an issue on Twitter? Your first port of call will likely involve talking to a chatbot.
Chatbots are a great ideal, and as they become more sophisticated we can expect to see them in more B2B applications. The ability to mimic a real human being in conversation, and furnish the consumer with the most appropriate answers to any questions they may have, will ensure the continued growth of chatbots next year.
 Farewell, Google+? [INCORRECT]
We said: It’s been 5 years since the initial launch, but the platform hasn’t evolved or seen the usage Google had hoped for. We haven’t seen that ‘killer’ feature yet.
While many have written off Google+, there still seems to be some life left in the social channel. These stats highlight a significant number of users and positive behavioural patterns:
- total number of Google+ active members: 395,250,000
- total number of unique Google+ monthly visits: 34,000,000
- average time spent on Google+ per visit: 3:57
- percent of online adults that visit Google+ at least once a month: 22.4%
- percent of smartphone users that use the Google+ app at least once a month: 30%
We always recommend schools get started on Google+, if for no other reason than it can help push your school higher up in Google searches!
 Ads for Snapchat [CORRECT]
We said: With a valuation of $25 billion, and the rumours of its looming IPO, it’s time for Snapchat to make some serious cash.
And they are! There are currently three types of Snapchat Ads:
- Snap Ads: a 10-second video (max) ad that includes the option to provide more information to users who swipe up.
- Sponsored Lenses: from puppy dog ears to rainbow vomit, Lenses are a big part of what makes Snapchat so fun. And one-third of Snapchat’s daily users play with Lenses every day. Now brands can create Sponsored Lenses, which show up alongside all the other Lenses in the menu.
- Geofilters: graphic overlays that are placed on Snaps. Usually tied to a specific geographic location, ranging from individual store to an entire country.
We expect more will be coming from Snapchat, especially as the exciting world of augmented reality develops.
 Voice OS [CORRECT]
We said: We’ll start to see the growth of the ‘Voice OS’.
What started out with Siri on the Apple iPhone has now become a staple of most households.
In the build up to Xmas, we have seen wearable tech and smart home devices sales skyrocket, highlighting consumer faith in Voice OS.
It will be interesting to see how top competitors (Amazon with Alexa, Apple with Siri, Microsoft with Cortana and Google with Home) will continue to innovate their virtual assistants. Expect this to remain a big tech trend as AI development remains a major ideal in tech.
 360 Tours [CORRECT]
We said: This is the year of 360. More schools will be recording 360 videos, and offering 360 tours of the school.
With the push in VR tech, 360 video tours are starting to become a "must-have" for schools. While the tech is still relatively new, we foresee this becoming an important marketing tool for schools during 2018.
Take a look at NLCS Jeju's Virtual Tour, to see just how great a 360 tour can be (now compatible with VR headsets, for that extra-level experience). Or perhaps try taking a virtual tour around one of The British School in the Netherland's four campuses.
Next week, we will be sending out our predictions for 2018. Let's make this an amazing year for #edtech, social media and digital marketing.