Many educators have heard or even used the phrase, "it's not what we say, but how we say it." We understand that the power of effective communication is the driving force behind our message. As humans, we respond to all kinds of verbal and nonverbal cues that influence how we receive information. This is as true for the classroom environment as it is for digital platforms. In fact, most communication is transmitted via websites, blogs and email as organizations have evolved to streamline content.
So how can we create effective communication strategies around digital content? It may be surprising to learn that many presentation principles can be applied to digital platforms. Learn how to build engaging content, connect positively with your audience and deliver information efficiently through a variety of mediums. The team at SchoolBundle has broken down effective digital communication strategies into a few simple principles.
Just as verbal communication relies on building a strong rapport with your audience, digital content must also connect with the reader. Consider what goals or objectives are most important to your audience. Your community wants to feel supported by your content. This may mean prioritizing key information and leveraging visual hierarchy to ensure the most important information is at the forefront.
Think about the timing of information delivery when sending out news and updates. If this is a particularly hectic time for your community, such as just before the school year begins, you may want to acknowledge this in your communications. This can be done overtly, such as a simple appreciation note for the completion of a successful year, or more subtlety through the use of sensitive language that is neither overly positive or too direct.
Acknowledge the diversity of your audience. As educators, we are speaking to a wide demographic of people. It's our job to consider different levels of educational attainment (i.e., reading levels), cultural backgrounds, ages, races, and belief systems. Creating content that is empathetic to all people is the goal for educational organizations.
It's easy to think of content communication as a subjective medium. However, content is one of the key ways we establish our brand. Educators, like companies and other organizations, have a distinct identity that must be conveyed in all digital materials. This can be accounted for in fonts, colors, headers and format. Congruence is a tenet of effective digital communication. Synchronicity across deliverables establishes your organization as an industry leader.
Educational organizations must also create quantitative ways to set goals and track metrics. Objectives may look a bit different for each organization and may shift across time. For example, you may want to track read rates, link clicks, registration rates, and blog views. More nuanced metrics might include looking at how effectively your FAQ and chatbot features give time back to your in-office admin staff. Measuring these goals and tracking their evolution across time will ensure your communications are fresh and engaging.
The purpose of content delivery is to provide information. For educational organizations, it's important to be clear, concise and objective. Consider how certain phrases can convey a tone or air of judgment. This can cause your audience to disconnect from the content you're presenting. As a general rule of thumb, focus on the information, not opinions or beliefs. It's easy to lose sight of objectivity when communicating through digital platforms. Subjective content often invokes an emotional response that is defensive or suspicious, such as the feeling that your community is being "sold" on something.
Digital Strategy Manager Manuel Antonio Jimenez Tress notes, "Communication is more effective when it describes objectively the events or behaviors, and usually less effective when it is subjectively judgmental. When people drift towards emitting judgments on their messages, the people receiving the message can often become defensive which reduces their receptiveness."
Focus on the topic at hand rather than the conversation surrounding a given topic. For example, if there is an upcoming curriculum change, stick to discussing the details of this update and not the opinions of those receiving the update. This conveys of sense of safety around change and leads to better communication with your audience.
Another excellent digital communication strategy is to keep your content grounded. Avoid "global statements," generalizations, extremes and ultimatums. These ineffective communication tactics can leave people feeling wary, defensive, or even angry. Be specific in your language and lead your content toward the common ground. This will allow a wider demographic of users to feel included in the conversation.
Take your content where your audience is and consider expanding your reach. For example, does your community browse via mobile device? If so, ensure your website is iOS and Android-friendly. If your content is outdated, this may be adding lag time for your users. Look for signs of an outdated website and leverage new communication channels to transform existing problems into fresh engagement. If your discussion forum isn't getting much traction, consider short videos instead.
Effective communication reaches a wide range of users by seeing every channel as an opportunity. Explore your social media outlets, take a moment to truly analyze your outgoing and direct communications, such as emails and review your website in-depth. Many educators are moving away from static web pages and building dynamic digital platforms tailored specifically for the K-12 audience. These all-in-one dashboards are more effective in engaging a diverse community and update seamlessly as your organization evolves.
Effective digital communications bring more voices to the table and positions your organization as an expert within the community. As K-12 organizations grow and evolve, it's more important than ever to define an effective digital platform strategy that's equipped to transform alongside your organization. SchoolBundle's UCP takes the first step to address and communicate with your entire digital audience. Reach out to our experts today to learn more about leveling up your digital communications strategy.
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