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Elana Leoni Talks Social Media, Content, and Community in the Education Space

By Leilani Yau

EM Founder Ken Chen recently spoke to Elana Leoni, CEO of Leoni Consulting Group (LCG), a marketing agency that exclusively focuses on education brands, including edtech and nonprofits. LCG loves partnering with these companies to affect learning outcomes and improve education. Here are a few Q&As from their conversation.

What services does LCG offer?

We offer organic social media management, content marketing, and help build communities of educators and parents. Marketing is all about authenticity, listening, and co-creating, and I believe that’s what our agency does. Our entire team is made up of former educators and we're all passionate about making a difference in education.

Is that a point of differentiation for you?

It’s hard to compete with larger marketing agencies that have big budgets, studios, and things that they use for scale. But yes, this is a huge differentiator for us – we understand educators and combine it with social media, content marketing, or community-building expertise. We know how to trigger this audience because we were embedded in the day-to-day of education. We've been through the journey that they've been through.

How would you define organic social media marketing?

Organic is what you see a brand posting in a social media news feed; it’s not paid or performance marketing. You're trying to spur traffic to your website and grow your audience. We may do this by following and listening to educators or curating content and reposting. It's all about what you can do with your human capital and a smart programming and engagement plan on the right social media platforms.

What do you do for a client who may not know what to post?

One of the deliverables we can do is a programming strategy based on what you create or what you have in your inventory. For example, if an executive is a good storyteller, we can increase the social presence for that person to talk about the company. Maybe you read things every day. You can share it on social media and add your opinion without having to create something new. It doesn't have to be a fancy infographic or an ebook or even a polished video. Authenticity wins. That's what gets people to connect – to pull on those heartstrings.

How do you structure content?

We work with brands to align it to the buyer cycle. Are your clients more likely to have peaks in buying? When are they more likely to evaluate your product? For most companies, who don’t usually have a big content team, it's important to focus and pick one audience, create goals, and do it really well. How does that audience like to consume information?

We work on content strategy, but sometimes we just show people that you can create high-value content quickly without the rigmarole. It doesn't have to be exhausting. We work with influencers to create content based on topics that align with what their product stands for.

What is the mix of content you’re creating for clients?

Many times we create a recipe for our clients based on what they’ve already blessed internally, such as a podcast or webinar. We figure out how we can repurpose it in multiple ways. You can slice and dice it for YouTube, create a blog post, trigger a series of social media posts, reels, or stories. And it’s all providing good information that your audience values in different media for different types of learners.

How do you define community?

One thing I learned from my colleague, Porter Palmer, is that you can’t just call it a community. Your members have to call it a community. They have to care about each other and feel connected. We work with a lot of clients on Facebook groups, but others use Mighty Networks or forums on their own website.

What makes for a successful community?

Define what type of community you’re building and how it fits into your company’s strategic initiatives, and connect it to what the organization cares about. Think about a focus for your community, start small, learn what works, and don't worry about vanity metrics that people are pressuring you on. It’s better to have a community that has 100 people, in which you can reach 90%, rather than a community of two million members that don't know each other and aren't engaged at all.

What does the dream client look like for Leoni Consulting Group?

Clients who fundamentally understand what content marketing, organic social media, and community building can do. We tend to have a long relationship with clients that are used to working with agencies, love to collaborate, but don't necessarily need to do it all. Other clients ask us to do it all and just meet with them monthly. Some clients only need to collaborate on a reel for a holiday. Trust is key.

One of our longer standing clients is the education division within Meta, a big tech company. We’ve had success and have found joy with higher education institutions because we give them a lot of value and expertise they wouldn't have in-house. We're experimenting with packages for startups. How can we give them blueprints to get to where they need to go? They might need more sophisticated or advanced help down the road.

Watch the full interview here:

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About Leilani Yau

Leilani Yau is a digital marketing consultant, specializing in content marketing and social media for small businesses and non-profits, and helps clients L.O.V.E. (Listen, Offer, Value, Engage) their target audiences online.

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