Content during COVID-19: How Kimone Johnson and her team amplified Scholastic’s distance learning initiative: Scholastic Learn at Home

We wanted to make sure that as teachers, parents, and caregivers were navigating this new arena, students continued to have access to on-level content. Kimone Johnson
At the beginning of March, as COVID-19 began impacting communities across the country, Scholastic developed four weeks of learning material to assist schools as they transitioned to remote learning.

Scholastic Learn at Home is a free resource center for pre-K through 9th grade+ — which launched on March 13, 2020, and ran for four weeks. Marketing Director Kimone Johnson and her team were tasked with promoting and amplifying that resource across digital and social media.

The purpose of Scholastic Learn at Home was to provide engaging online content for students to continue their learning away from the classroom.

Scholastic Learn at Home helped bridge the gap while schools developed their own distance learning programs. The Scholastic team hand-picked materials that would engage students at this time of year for each specific grade.

“We wanted to make sure that as teachers, parents, and caregivers were navigating this new arena, students continued to have access to on-level content. This way, the resource was able to serve their needs for a distance learning program,” said Kimone.

“We had a free site that was easily accessible,” said Kimone. “You just needed the link, then you could find your grade level, do the activities, read the articles, and watch the videos. It was extremely user friendly.”

Through social media, Kimone said their goal was to position Scholastic as a teaching partner that is there to support learning at every step of the way. We consciously did not host any sales promotion campaigns, and offered “Scholastic Learn at Home” as a free resource.

Kimone and her team knew what types of images their audience responded to, so they were able to take those learnings and apply them to Learn at Home.

We made sure that our announcements were inclusive. Kimone Johnson
“We knew our audiences liked visual content that is vibrant and bold with text overlays, so we incorporated their preferred mediums in our images,” she said. “Then, when we were thinking about the hashtag, it was important that we highlighted our brand because everyone thinks of us for books, and we wanted to make sure they knew this is a free digital product that we're offering.”

According to Kimone, it was helpful to use one universal social media platform because, when it came to reporting and measuring all of the stats, they were able to have one tag they could apply to all their posts.

Kimone and her team partnered with other divisions that worked closely with parents and educators to brainstorm how Scholastic could ensure their social media announcements were all-inclusive.

“We opened our messaging to include caregivers to ensure we were including those looking after students at home, whether or not they were parents,” she said. “We made sure that our announcements were inclusive.”

Then, those announcements would be included on a banner image (which changed weekly during the campaign) and was formatted for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Once the messaging was locked down, Kimone and her team distributed the content to their global communications groups.

We showed one united front across our global social media channels. Kimone Johnson
“We showed one united front across our global social media channels,” said Kimone. “We had consumers from all over the world using our site.”

As they deployed content for the campaign across their channels, Kimone and her team used social listening to adapt their messaging and ensure every piece of content was relevant.

“Based on what our audience was saying, we used those keywords and built it into our campaign,” she said. “But, every time we updated it, we made sure everything we put out had a similar format and lettering, so our audiences could always recognize our branding in every piece of content.”

Kimone said the appreciation for the campaign shown by both educators and parents was overwhelming — and her team wanted to make sure they responded to their audiences in kind.

Based on what our audience was saying, we used those keywords and built it into our campaign. Kimone Johnson
“We ensured we responded to all of them who reached out to us with unique and customized responses, because we wanted to let them know that we hear them and we're there for them,” she said.

“From the beginning there was a lot of appreciation, and by the second week there was a lot of user-generated content,” Kimone said. “We were able to share that content with their approval on our social channels. Then, we put all of that UGC on our actual website, Scholastic Learn at Home.”

Throughout this process, Kimone said one of her biggest learnings was the importance of engaging with your audience every step of the way.

Know what your audience's needs are so you can provide the solution in a language that will resonate with them. Kimone Johnson
“Ensure you engage with everyone that mentions your product through hashtags or by sharing user-generated content,” she said. “Make sure that your customer service team is on board, because they can answer all of the questions that are unrelated to that campaign.”

She also advised staying true to what you know is going to work. “Know what your audience likes, align it with that, and you can't go wrong,” said Kimone. “And know what your audience's needs are so you can provide the solution in a language that will resonate with them.”

Kimone emphasized that it's necessary to have clear, internal communication on the frequency and deliverables of what you're doing.

“I had a Google folder for every single week with every image labeled, and that made a big difference for how effectively we were able to execute this campaign,” she said.

But, above all, she said they benefited from constantly updating their messaging.

“Even if it's the same product offering, there's always new ways of showcasing what you're giving,” she said. “You have to keep it fresh.”

Kimone Johnson has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.