From education to employment

Supporting FE to achieve Business Development through ‘Social’

Penny Power is founder of the Digital Youth Academy

This month I want to continue my quest for supporting FE in its understanding of the culture and mindset that the ‘connected world’ is creating. Digital Business Transformation is becoming critical and is something that all people in all sectors need to adapt to, to survive in this fast changing world.

I had a super chat with Michele Sutton OBE from Bradford College. She agreed that Digital Business Transformation starts with shifting staff thinking. This inspired me greatly as her approach with a new building project hugely reflected the need to disrupt and create an almost uncomfortable feeling in order for people to absorb and adapt to what is now a very disruptive world that we live in.

This month I have had the pleasure of running some workshops for teachers within the FE Sector to encourage more cross departmental use of Social Media. I have been hugely motivated by the response and now follow over 50 new people on Twitter within FE who were not engaging before and are now stepping into an unknown world. Hats off to the Leaders of these organisations as they are seeing that Social Engagement does not only happen in the Marketing Department. They are empowering teachers to share their knowledge and connect with businesses and students through Twitter, building trust and creating a bond that is beyond seeking a transaction. Let’s face it, none of the SMEs in your area want to be ‘sold’ to, they want to follow inspiring and passionately skilled teachers!

Continuing this theme, Digital Colleges has its second Roundtable on the 17th July in London hosted by IBM. We have seats available if you would like to join us.

In addition, I want to thank the team at Digital Youth Academy (DYA) for a huge data mining exercise they did to analyse all of the FE Colleges and their Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook reach and engagement. They have published a report that is excellent and worth downloading (click here). This report furnishes the FE sector with an awareness and analysis of the social presence and influence they hold as a collective and individually. Special thanks go to Ben Marshall, our Social Digital Apprentice for his data mining and Simon Ashworth, Head of Curriculum for the analysis and commentary.

Since I joined the FE Sector in 2011, I have been concerned by the challenge that they face with regard to engaging with local small businesses to achieve a greater understanding of their skills gap and to serve them with appropriate young people, ensuring the win-win. This report is very positive and it highlights some excellent practice and shows that with a little more focus on building their social capital assets through social media, FE institutions can have greater links to the jobs and needs of the SME.

To quote Russell Butcher, DYA’s Operations Director, “As Thought Leaders and forerunners in the market, DYA wanted to provide the marketplace with an insight into which of the FE Colleges in England are the market leaders with regard to Social Presence and Social Influence and why”.

The rationale behind this study is based on a number of drivers. As ever, there is constant change in the FE sector, budgets and funding are being continually reduced and re-engineered and Colleges are increasingly looking at means to work smarter and more efficiently. There is a requirement for the sector to embrace social and digital technology, be that as part of the learning cycle or for other activities, such as engagement of students and employers.

Key Report Findings

  • 95% of FE Colleges have a Twitter account. The average number of Twitter Followers per FE College is 2,115 with Cornwall College leading the way with the most Followers at 9,198.
  • 83% of FE Colleges have a LinkedIn company page account. The average number of Followers per FE College is 394. Loughborough College lead the way with the most Followers at 4,089.
  • 98% of FE Colleges have a Facebook page. The average number of Facebook likes per FE College is 3,421. The Marine Society College of the Sea lead the way with the most likes with over 30,000.
  • Aggregated across all three of the above platforms, Newcastle College currently performs the best, with the second highest number of Twitter Followers, fourth highest number of LinkedIn Followers and the fifth highest number of Facebook likes.
  • In DYA’s view, a majority number of FE Colleges have good social presence but lack social influence. The report outlines that only 60% of FE Colleges have a Klout registering and of those that do only 20 achieve a Klout Score of over 55. Newbury College clearly lead the way as the top social influencer with a Klout Score of 78.

Penny Power is founder of the Digital Youth Academy
If you would like to connect with Penny, you can email her at [email protected] or follow and tweet her @pennypower

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