School social media is hands-down the best way to reach out to your community and engage with the families and supporters of your school. But how do you go about getting more followers? Are you doing all you can to grow your school social media following?
Social media usage growth is sure to continue. Brandwatch reports there are 2.3 billion active social media users as of March 2016, a number that has risen a staggering 176 million in the past year. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the other popular channels won’t be going away anytime soon, as they’ve proven to be very popular ways for people to obtain and share news and information. Your school should be aiming for a consistent, strong social media presence.
Even the best social media account, however, is worthless to you if the content doesn’t reach anyone. You can spend hours slaving away at engaging Facebook posts and clever tweets, but the only way it will mean anything is if you have followers to read the material. Ensure the best engagement on your social media accounts by growing your following with these tips.
1. Conduct social media training
All members of your school’s community can play a role in promoting the social media accounts. Your staff is critical to getting the conversation going, but parents and students too are key participants in the social dialogue, so show them with some simple training how to get involved in your school’s social media conversations.
Hold a staff in-service training to review the social media policies and discuss the importance of social media as a part of school communications. Make sure all of your faculty and staff are leading by example and following every account. Have all faculty and staff to put the school’s social media links in their email signature for quick and easy reference. Ask teachers to participate in your promotional strategy by sharing the accounts with parents and providing photos, achievements, updates, and stories that can be used in posts.
2. Designate a social media point-person
Your social media accounts need caregivers who are committed to growing the following. Designate a social media ambassador at both the school and district level. A tech- or social media-savvy teacher or administrator would make an excellent candidate for ambassador at the building level. Share this opportunity with staff at your social media training and gauge interest, then choose a candidate who will promote your accounts consistently. Having a point-person for this job will ensure that your audience is always growing.
Feed your social media ambassadors with ideas from other schools. More and more schools are doing it right, and you can learn from many of these social media-savvy schools and districts.
3. Promote, promote, promote
Take every opportunity you are given to promote your social media accounts. Include social media links and handles in printed material like newsletters, flyers, in-school signage, outdoor marquees, scoreboards, and alumni promotions. Mention the accounts in both in-class and principal announcements. Feature “follow” buttons prominently on the school website.
Encourage parents to promote the school social media accounts to family members and others who might be interested to see what their child’s school is up to. Parents aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the school’s posts, so encourage them to share the profiles with siblings, aunts, uncles, and other important people in the student’s life.
You can also cross-promote throughout all of your social media accounts. Tweet about your Facebook page, link to your Twitter account in your Instagram bio, post your Instagram photos to your Facebook page. Each social media account offers an opportunity to increase your followers on other accounts. For more tips on cross-promotion, check out this 2060 Digital article.
4. Maintain high-quality content
Higher quality posts with interesting information are more likely to get reposted by your existing followers, thereby reaching an entirely new audience of potential followers.
What you are sharing should be diversified in both format and content. This means you should be posting links to news, statistics, tips, and facts about schools and education, as well as human interest pieces about students, administrators, and teachers. These “warm-and-fuzzy” posts do particularly well: a post featuring a selfie of your new principal or a fun photo of student’s at a sporting event will be very likely to get high traffic. Not all posts pull their own weight when it comes to engagement. Learn what Facebook posts do well in this article by school social media expert Andrea Gribble.
Your content needs to be fresh, updated, and consistent. Your followers will have no interest in stale, outdated posts that tell them something they already know. When posting a popular news story or statistic, be sure to include your own unique perspective and some information about how the story might affect your school community. Personalizing posts this way connect you to the content. These posts will resonate with your followers and increase the likelihood that they will repost, hopefully getting more followers for your account.
5. Follow your followers
Build your school’s social media network by following all of your existing followers and also reaching out to other accounts. These accounts could include families of students, other schools in your area, and educational thought leaders. Often, others will follow you back after you have recognized their account. For some ideas on what schools to follow, check out this list by #SocialSchool4Edu.
Be active with your followers by reposting and commenting on their shares. They will do the same in turn, which not only encourages an active, healthy social media presence, but can also expose your account to new followers who find your content interesting and inspiring. An Entrepreneur.com article calls this “The Law of Reciprocity: You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them.”
Followers are the key to a successful social media account, so get as many as you can. The farther your social media reach, the more impactful each of your well-crafted posts will be. There is a world of people out there who can benefit from the information presented on your social media accounts, so reach out to them and spread the love. School is about community, and social media presents a virtual opportunity for rich community interaction when you have a robust following.
What are you doing to grow your school social media following?
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.