Some of my responsibilities at InReach require me to do things I did not do as a continuing education director. I plan to write a few blogs and some newsletter articles on things I currently do that I should have done in my prior position. Ironically, as I was trying to think of a blog topic for this month, this topic came to me. CE professionals, like many professionals, need to use blogs.
The most obvious use of blogs in the continuing education world is to promote programming. Tag your subject matter expert or speaker to draft a short blog that addresses some of the content to be included in an upcoming program. The blog should be personal and short, but still deliver a single or isolated nugget about the topic to be more fully addressed later. Consider including links to other resources, including on-demand programming that could assist the registrant in honing their basic skills prior to participating in the upcoming program. Don’t forget the power of images and video in pulling together your blog. Sometimes the image can tell the entire story. If you don’t have the “touch” or the resources, give InReach a call. We can help you.
Also, and on a larger scale, posts providing relevant information on a regular basis, can assist in meeting your overall business goals. If your family law section is providing relevant information through their discussion page or by using social media, your learner will learn to trust the section as a source and become loyal to that group. That means later, the learner will trust the value delivered in a program down the road.
Of course, drafting the blog is not enough. The blog needs to be disseminated where likely attendees will see it and then consider attending the program. Getting this information into a potential registrant’s view means using a lot of different channels: your website, Facebook, Twitter, and emails. Request that your speakers post the blog to their own social media to promote the program they are in, and further, ask them to please tag other groups they belong to that might be interested in the content of the blog or program. If allowed, reference the blog and provide a link in your organization’s regular communications like monthly e-newsletters.
The blog, and resulting comments on social media, can also add to the value of the program. A blog post can be a digital conversation starter, helping online learners prepare for the program or in general, master a task or improve their practice. Others can share comments and in no time, it is possible to have many tips and how-to comments generated from the promotion of your blog through social media.
Many of you have recognized that what I am describing is content marketing. In a nutshell, you give something away (a tidbit of knowledge) in return for receiving something (a registration). In using blogs as a content marketing tool, you are working to meet your business objectives, whether it be to spread professional knowledge, sell programming or both.
In addition to creating and distributing the content, it is important to measure the success of content-driven marketing. Use data and analytics to determine if you did contribute to the success of the identified objective, in this case the number of registrants attending a program compared to the number of “hits” or views you received on the blog.