If your school doesn’t engage in social media, it’s time.
Social media can help you to
- Engage with parents
- Promote your news and events
- Amplify your school’s brand
Knowing what to post and when, and finding the time to create and share content can be overwhelming for school leaders. Here are 5 tips, taken straight from the marketing pros, to help you engage your school community through social media.
1. Use Social Media
In August, 2020, digitalmarketing.org reported that the average person in the United States spends 123 minutes on social media per day. That’s 2 HOURS and 3 minutes PER DAY.
With 65% of the eligible population having a social media presence, you can be certain that the majority of the parents (and extended family and friends) of your students are using social media and checking it regularly.
But I have email addresses for all of the parents in my school, why can’t I just use that platform to reach them directly? You ask.
Does your school’s communication tool give you analytics? If you don’t know how to check the open rate for your weekly emails, find out how. Even if 100% of your emails are delivered, meaning the email addresses are updated and accurate, not all of them get opened.
In fact, the average open rate across industries, including education, is around 20%. So even if only 40% of your school community is opening your weekly bulletin, that’s pretty good!
But is that good? Most likely you put a lot of thought into those weekly bulletins and they provide important information for parents.
Attaching flyers or newsletters to your emails? Data shows that the likelihood of attachments getting opened or links clicked is even slimmer than email open rates. Ten percent is the average.
If you want to your audience to get the information you are sending them, it’s best to use more than one communication tool. You can post relevant content related to school calendar, events, and happenings. But social media can also be used to tell your school’s story and engage parents in two way communication.
2. Know Your Audience and Purpose
It’s important to note that social media isn’t just another communication tool. It is it’s own beast.
Your audience will expect to engage in a different way on Facebook than they do through your emails. Through social media you have the opportunity to send different types of messages.
When you are planning out your content, you want to think about the goal or purpose of your posts.
- Are you giving your community information?
- Sharing highlights about students and on campus activity?
- Promoting a fundraiser or an event?
Which ever it is, you’ll want to have a consistent ratio or balance of the these three types of posts.
When you’re selecting images and messages to share, think about your audience and what they value. Mostly, your audience will be parents and family of the students in your school.
And what do they care about? Their children.
They want to know that their child goes to a school that is safe and meets their academic and social-emotional needs. So when posting, think of your parents thinking of their babies.
3. Use Social Media to Tell Your Story
If you want to control the narrative for your school, you need to get out in front of it and show (not just tell) the community all the great happenings that are taking place in the building or virtually.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says this about story telling through social media:
“To Tell a great story, the number one thing you have to do is evoke a reaction. The End.”
You want your audience to know your school, to feel connected and feel proud of being part of your school.
Give your viewers a window inside the school – what they might not see otherwise. What are students doing? How are their teachers engaging them? How are they being seen, heard, and represented in school?
Your school’s story can include content from outside sources. For example, a YouTube video link of an author reading their book aloud. A great idea is to connect your community to multi-cultural resources, and honor people and traditions that represent your students and their backgrounds.
When selecting photos, it’s always great and okay to showcase student work, especially if it clearly demonstrates good pedagogy behind it. I have a couple of teachers who lead the social media posting at my site and have created a calendar that highlights certain grade levels for each week. Teachers can drop photos at anytime into a google drive folder and our social media team selects the highlights to share.
This way, everyone gets involved and it’s fun for teachers to share the great things happening in their classrooms, virtual or not.
You don’t have to post photos of students, but storytelling is more powerful with images of actual people (especially kids) if you want to evoke a reaction. This can be a little trickier in distance learning and with obtaining and managing parental consent, which leads us to the next tip…
4. Produce User Generated Content
If you want to get authentic content that directly connects to your community, ask them to submit it.
One of the best examples of this is National Geographic’s Instagram account. I’ve always loved the National Geographic magazines. As a young person, I dreamed about the hired photographers traveling the world to find and capture the most beautiful landscapes, animals, and cultures.
Now with the tech at everyone’s fingertips, @natgeo asks for its followers to submit photos from their own adventures. This strategy gives them an inexhaustible stream of beauty from around the world.
Since we’ve been distance learning, I started sending home “Leader of the week” letters and stickers (in the actual mail) to the winners from each class. At the bottom of the letter to kids I post a note to parents – send a photo of your child engaged in distance learning and I’ll post it on social media in the coming week! I get so many photos and I love it!
User generated content alleviates the task of searching for content and creates another opportunity to get folks involved and connected.
5. Stay On Brand
By brand I don’t mean your logo and school colors. I’m talking about the impression that your school makes on others. What do people think of your school?
If you are not controlling the narrative about your school culture and values, someone else will.
While social media is a great space to show and tell, if your brand isn’t clear, the message won’t stick as easily.
Your brand should portray what you value and how you operate. Student safety, school & classroom climate and community, student achievement, equity and inclusion are all common interests that schools uphold and message out. Try to be even more specific. Focus on your special initiatives or goals. Leadership, literacy, language development, diversity and inclusion all come to mind.
Whatever your focus, your audience should know it and recognize it.
The voice and tone in your social posting also play a role in branding. Folks at the leading Graphic Design platform Canva, encourage the use of casual language in social media. Specifically, talk like a human. Using a more conversational tone, asking open ended questions, and inviting comments are ways to help establish your brand and increase two-way communication and engagement.
Whether you are just getting started or have been at it for years, social media posting adds value to your school’s communication. The audience is already there, now you just need to tap in and share!