At this point I think the stigma behind influencer marketing in the business world has largely disapeared; as I discussed in my last article, it’s largely accepted that influencers on social media platforms will gradually overtake conventional media (mailing lists, blog, newspapers, mags) as sources of industry information. And this is not limited to LinkedIn, Twitter, but also traditionally “personal” sites like Facebook/Instagram and Reddit,

In no niche is this trend more widely accepted and acknowledged that education. Influencer marketing itself is a form of referral marketing – really network marketing. Of which the definition is as follows:

For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to focus exclusively on primary/secondary and targeting teachers, parents and administrators – educators. There is a whole different selection of influencers for B2C and B2B; that is targeting students (ambassadors) and businesses for the corporate learning environment, one which I’ve addressed separately and likely will again.

The Primary Source of Growth For Early-Stage Edtech Companies is Teacher to Teacher

Of the 100+ early stage edtech companies I’ve talked to or worked with, almost all of them describe a very successful initial marketing period of referrals teacher -> teacher – within schools, within grades, and between schools. This is backed by the data; recent companies who’ve come up in the past 2-3 years that we’ve talked to (in the past 6 months) have confirmed this directly.

It makes sense, in practice – who better to get your recommendations from then other teachers? They’re the only ones that can relate in any sufficient capacity. The numerous unique challenges a teacher of a particular subject faces are high to engage directly as a tech company unless you’ve been there; the most successful salespeople we’ve encountered have been educators themselves at some point.

Defining Network Marketing in Edtech

Teacher to Teacher referrals are generally organic; smart companies will provide ways within apps to easily share signup links, referral discounts – white papers etc. Of course, you have to plug those programs – 3 great ways include

…and the best way – face to face. Events (particularly industry conferences) are a great way to engage those early adopters. But teacher adopters are only one piece of the puzzle.

Education Influencers in Edtech

So….edtech influencers. Where are they? How many? How do I get in touch?

Slow down. The space is not uniform; actually, when we consider the network marketing landscape in education, we are considering non-individuals. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Educators + Edtech Founders/Writers on Social Media – Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook (No Tiktok yet…)
  • Big Engagers (sometimes anonymous) on edtech forums, Reddits, Quoras, and comment section
  • Publications (Your Edsurges, Edshelf etc)

The size of the list and the diversity of it really depends on your acquisition goals, tact, and the subject matter.

Getting In Touch

Engaging these education influencers can be done in a few ways.

  1. Build an email list; this is tough if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s gunna require a lot of searching; edsurge, LinkedIn – for key “topics” and trending keywords, hashtags etc. See more details below – we’re worked on building this for you!
  2. Work with an ambassador development company (we’ve heard great things about these guys)
  3. Comment and engage with them – the success rate here is low and is not going to work unless you supplement your engagement with DMs or have a big audience (over 10k on any platform) yourself.

What do I ask for?

Don’t ever ask an influencer for something. It’s the wrong footing to establish the relationship on; and it offers nothing to them. Instead of asking, offer value. Content, exposure, offers for their audience – exclusive information- whatever it, you must have something that is of value to them. If your audience overlaps with their’s, there likely are MANY items you can offer. Get creative. (or comment below who you’re targeting, what your company does – and I’ll tell you)

The Data

Ok so I have some good news. We’re working on a list; a killer list. One with extreme detail; we’ve got keywords, hashtags, content trends, and all the influencers by channel. We’re doing this for a number of industries, but by far this is the biggest.

But it’s not complete.

If you’re interested in our database, join our slack community for more info and access as we build, or follow StartEd on Instagram for periodic updates.

Chris Nicholas is a serial entrepreneur and marketer. He has personally managed dozens of influencers; spoken on the topic, including most recently in VICE’s web series on Instagram)

Check him out as the occasional cohost of the No CMO Podcast, available on all platforms, through the webinar series with StartEd or book a training session to speak with him directly.

Chris Nicholas, Owner and CEO

You Don’t Need a CMO Startup Marketing

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