Activities are a great form of link bait for companies in the K-12 education industry, as educators are constantly searching for new, engaging ideas to try out in their classrooms. Providing these types of resources is a great way to get your company’s name out in the education realm through useful, neutral content. Whether it’s a lesson plan, a book review, directions to a science experiment, a craft or a new take on an old classroom project, follow these basic tips to help jump-start your education content strategy, with the creation of quality, educational link bait:
Think like a student.
Although your business may be targeting teachers and school administrators, it is ultimately the students who will be benefiting from the resources that you have to offer. Take some time to think about the age range for which your resources are being created. What topics, tasks, materials and questions will engage them the most and spark an interest in learning? Are there any age-appropriate trends that can be incorporated into an activity? While it is important to create easy-to-use, teacher-friendly content, putting thought into the needs of the student audience should remain a top priority. If an educator feels that a resource will be of benefit and interest to their students, then they will be more likely than not to try it out, post it and share it with others.
Keep it neutral.
This is a fairly easy thing to do, as branded, “salesy” content does not naturally fit into content revolving around an educational activity; however, it’s worthwhile to mention that companies should keep overly promotional link bait to a minimum. Creating neutral pieces of link bait will give them better chances of being shared on third-party sites, especially since brand-specific information holds no educational value for students. A simple “presented by _______” or logo with a link back to your site should serve as a good reference for anyone interested in learning more about your products or services. A very brief organization description could be considered appropriate as well.
Make it developmentally appropriate.
Perhaps the most important factor in creating educational link bait is making sure that it adheres to developmentally appropriate practices. Once a link bait’s target grade level has been determined, base the content around objectives and tasks that are appropriate for that particular age range. Stating your activity’s learning objectives as well as any core academic standards it caters to is another way to set your content apart from the content of others. It is also a good way to show your expertise in the field of education, and is information that teachers will appreciate. For a list of the Common Core State Standards, visit: www.corestandards.org.
Find a balance between structure and flexibility.
While providing educators with thorough directions for any activity is key, so is providing a little “wiggle room,” if possible. “Wiggle room” can be achieved with something as simple as allowing for choices in certain materials or literature used. Asking educators to share their experiences with an activity is another way to demonstrate flexibility. Encourage teachers to share any input or ways in which to enhance ideas that are presented; this can open the door to a discussion centered around your link bait as well as your organization.
Create visual content.
Content that is highly visual is appealing to the eye and is typically very shareable, especially since the Pinterest craze took hold. Providing visuals gives users material for posting to pin boards and other social sites as well, which is often more engaging than posting purely written content. From a strictly educational standpoint, visual content can give educators a clear idea of how an activity is supposed to look and is less time-consuming than reading through written instructions. Lesson plans lend themselves well to this type of content, as do instructographics, infographics that provide a visual set of instructions. Additionally, visual content has the potential to be shared among educators as good resources for interactive whiteboards.
If you need a place to start, or want to make sure you’re on the right track in terms of creating link bait for the classroom, you can always visit established, education resource sites to get some general direction. A couple of notable sites to consider checking out are EducationWorld® and Education.com. Once you have a basic idea in place, the tips mentioned there will help you create useful, interesting and developmentally appropriate K-12 link bait: Material designed to give your organization more visibility and provide teachers/students with quality classroom resources they can use and enjoy.
*Photo courtesy of Mark Brannan via Flickr
Check out Fathom’s 30-pg. Ultimate Guide to Marketing an Educational Institution with Social Media. It’s full of insightful interviews and illustrative case studies on using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for marketing a school.