Better Beginnings, a program of the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Early Child Care and Early Childhood Education, provides Arkansas children with the best care and education, as early as possible and connects Arkansas families with information and care that helps their children experience a safe, happy childhood.
Our public relations specialists conducted primary research in the form of focus groups with parents from across the state. The focus groups included parents of varied socioeconomic status. We learned parents are primarily concerned with cost and location when choosing a daycare. The focus groups also revealed that parents want to know their children are experiencing a learning environment, not just being monitored throughout the day. Our specialists used secondary research to confirm that grandparents often influence parents when making child care decisions. Our digital specialists evaluated and audited the demographics of followers on each channel to develop the message strategy for each channel. We assigned content to channels via the follower audit data to increase engagement and inform parents and grandparents about the benefits of Better Beginnings. We also wanted to recognize child care providers across the state for their commitment to quality child care.
ComGroup annually leads the Better Beginnings staff through a strategic planning session to determine objectives, strategies and target audiences. The planning session consists of a diverse group of management and staff members from DHS. During last year’s planning session, the client requested an increased presence in social media.
The following and engagement of Better Beginnings social channels have steadily increased as the client gains understanding about the impact of communicating in digital channels. Our digital specialists recommended an integrated social media campaign for Better Beginnings that consisted of organic and paid posts across three social media platforms. The social media campaign targeted three audiences: parents of children birth to five years of age, grandparents to children birth to five years of age and child care providers in Arkansas. The objective of the social media campaign was to develop a conversation with families about high-quality daycare and to provide recognition for child care providers in Arkansas. We set a goal of a 20 percent increase in traffic to the Better Beginnings website during the campaign.
Our specialists began with a channel audit and review of the previous year’s analytics. Next, we conducted a follower audit in preparation for the annual strategic planning session when objectives for each target audience were identified. Our specialists developed the strategy for the social media content according to those objectives. This approach leveraged paid reach to drive engagement with every target audience and increased the traffic driven to the website.The channels used in the campaign included Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Our specialists used monthly editorial calendars for each channel, targeting messages according to the follower audit conducted during the research process. These calendars assigned content by date and channel, which kept our specialists in lockstep with the overall communications plan. Providing a calendar allowed evergreen content to be scheduled, but allowed for the flexibility of timely content to be added to each channel as it became available. The content calendar matched other paid channel messages, like print and broadcast. We coordinated the content across paid, owned and earned channels to reinforce the messages and support the client’s objectives.
One challenge faced by our specialists was increasing the number of male followers we had on each channel. Our specialists addressed this with a change of our creative content to include more males and father figures. We faced a similar challenge when creating content that was relevant to grandparents and addressed it by sharing information that allowed them to have a greater understanding when talking to their children about choosing child care. The budget for this one-year social media campaign, which included paid content and channel management, was $18,000.
Posts across the channels included tips for parents looking for child care, recognition for Better Beginnings providers across the state and links to the Family Resource Library on the website, which includes a host of family-oriented content that teaches parents how to keep their kids learning when they’re away from child care. In addition to writing and posting content, we managed engagement and reported on activity for each channel.
The reach for all Better Beginnings social channels surpassed 1.2 million impressions in the fiscal year. Those impressions included families and child care providers in Arkansas. Across all channels, we saw engagements with the content increase by 80 percent. Link clicks across all channels increased by 118 percent. Website traffic increased by 33 percent in session duration, interpreted as improved quality of site visits. Analytics also showed an increase of new visitors to the website by 7 percent from the previous year. Our specialists documented a decrease in bounce rate of 14 percent. Better Beginnings leadership praised the campaign results and recently announced their renewed commitment to building a dialogue with their stakeholders via social channels. With the results, we learned women engage more with links posted on the social media channels.
We also learned that content aimed at father figures is necessary to gain more engagement from a male audience.