Don’t Get Cut Off: Create Perfect Social Media Graphics With This Template

Have you ever been browsing your Twitter or Facebook feed and come across an image with its message cut off?

Twitter and Facebook on a smartphone

If you’re creating graphics like this in order to attract people to your posts, (which is a good idea according to experts) it would be a shame and a waste of your time for part of your message to be cropped off, not to mention how unprofessional and careless it looks. Plus, to create separate images to fit each platform would take a lot of time.

Thankfully, the helpful blog Social Media Examiner figured out what dimensions and parameters you should stick to in order for one image to be perfectly cropped in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The key is to make sure any text and main imagery are within the “safe area.”

I’ve created templates that already have these measurements and guides set up, available for you to download here.

Photoshop .psd template | Fireworks .png template | JPEG template

Redesigning the graphic above using this template, here’s how the same image looks in both Facebook and Twitter:

Bonus tip: if you have graphics like these on your district’s homepage or other pages, see if you can have them sized and designed according to this template. Why? Whenever someone shares a link to your site in Facebook, it will pull the images it sees in the page and use them as part of the Facebook post. Voila — a perfectly sized graphic to accompany the link to the school district’s website.

Do you have any templates you use to make your social media posts look perfect?

Revisit and Revamp Your Social Media Strategy

Social media is ever-changing and there are always new social media channels being introduced. This is why it is so important to revisit and revamp your social media strategy on a regular basis. By making strategic decisions based on research and your audience, you can ensure you are being efficient and effective with your time.

That was our goal. Throughout this school year, we have been meeting with our digital communications committee. The goal of this committee was to help review, research, plan and define our social media strategy moving forward.

The committee . . .

  • Researched and discussed what social media channels other districts are using, how they are using them and the demographics of each. It was really important for us to determine if the social media channel was long-term or just a fad.
  • Talked a lot about who our social media audience is. Did we want our messages focused on parents, community, kids or all of the above?
  • Surveyed our teachers to see how they are currently using social media and how they would like to use it.
  • Developed our strategy moving forward. We decided to continue using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and our district app. There are several other social media channels out there that other school districts are using effectively to meet their goals. However, for our district, these four channels continue to meet our criteria. Every school district is unique, so this will look different for everyone.
  • Started tweaking our current guidelines to better meet the needs of changing social media and the needs and wants of teachers and students.

I encourage other districts to do this as well. Although it may seem daunting at times to have one more committee meeting, it has been well worth the process. The feedback and conversations we have had are invaluable. In addition, the perspectives from individuals throughout our district were helpful in defining what our staff wanted and needed.

Now that we have gone through this process, I am confident in the direction we are heading with our social media. Well . . . at least until the next social media channel comes along.

Partnering with Students and Teachers Yields Results

When we first introduced our district social media accounts, there were two basic interactions we had with students on a regular basis:

1.  Students would complain on Facebook or Twitter about the lack of a snow day, about being too hot or cold walking to school, about school lunches, etc.

2.  They would make surprisingly disparaging remarks on an otherwise normal story on our Facebook feed, which we would quickly hide.

Flash forward just a couple of years, and now we have partnered with students and faculty to provide some of our most popular and meaningful content.

It has been a relationship that has taken time to develop, and it has been helped along by a new program at our high school (we are a one-high-school district).

Thanks to a bond issue passed by our community, Ritenour High School opened a $1.25 million Media Convergence Center at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. It features 5,000 square feet of space dedicated to a radio station, video production, television studio, print news and yearbook.

The program is the combination and exploration of all aspects of media – both creation and consumption. Students learn about many forms of media communications: newspaper, radio, film, video, social networking and various new media. We are preparing students to become responsible communicators who are literate as creators and consumers of media.

Through our partnership with media convergence students and faculty, we are able to tap into different social channels to amplify our message, and they are able to do the same through our channels. All of the retweets (it helps if you give them an @ mention) and cross-posting on Facebook give our social media communications an extra boost.

Working together, we are building our social capital, through likes or followers, and facilitating new partnerships within our community. It is a mutually beneficial partnership that helps our social media efforts.

Interested in what our students are doing? You can find them on the following pages:


How to Use Facebook’s New Call to Action Button

If you’re the Facebook fan page administrator for your school or district, you might have recently noticed a small “Create Call to Action” button that suddenly appeared at the bottom of your cover photo, next to the “Like” button.

This little feature has been rolling out on fan pages over the past couple of months. If it hasn’t appeared on your district’s Facebook page yet, it will be there shortly.

call to action 1

Here’s how it works. The Call to Action button provides you with a drop-down menu of seven choices: “Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Use App,” “Watch Video” or “Play Game.” These options, says Facebook, will permit you to link the button you choose to “any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with a business’s goals.”

On the NSPRA Facebook page, we decided to put the Call to Action button to use recently by choosing “Book Now,” and placing a link directly to NSPRA’s registration page for the 2015 July Seminar in Nashville, the organization’s most important event each year.

call to action 2

While your district may not want to use the Call to Action button for that reason, you might want to consider the “Sign Up” option to persuade users to sign up for the District’s e-newsletter, or the “Contact Us” button to bring readers to your website contact page. “Watch Video” or “Use App” are both great options for districts that want to promote their new mobile app or their latest YouTube or Vimeo video.

If you don’t yet have this option, you can keep checking your Facebook page for the Call to Action button. If you have one, just follow these simple steps to put it to good use:

1. Go to your page’s cover photo and click on the “Create Call to Action” button at the bottom right, next to your “Like” button.
2. Choose which call to action option you’d like to use, and then provide the web address URL you’d like to link to.
3. Click “create.”

Any time you would like to delete the Call to Action or edit it, go to the button and use the drop-down to make those changes.

How have you used the new Call to Action button?

Meeting the needs of your evolving fan base

In the past few months, my school district experienced two dramatic events that substantially increased our social media following: winning a state football championship and the death of a long-time staff member, coach and alumnus.

Each of these events – one happy and one sad – resulted in a nine-percent boost in our Facebook fan base, with hundreds of likes, shares and comments as the news went viral. More than 27,300 people viewed the record-setting posts in our little 2,200-student district.

When your page experiences such rapid growth, it’s important to do the research on who your new followers are and what content they respond to. Your new fans may be a different demographic than your base followers. And while it’s great to add followers, if you don’t keep them engaged, you will lose them.

The easy way to measure change is to look at your page insights. Has there been a shift in the age distribution? Has the gender balanced changed? Are the new followers interested in different topics than the rest?

With our small town’s state football championship, we gained more fans who are current students (age 13 to 17) and folks age 18 to 24 – likely recent alumni. This group’s interest in athletic events – not just football – have led me to increase postings about our many sports teams.

The unexpected death of a long-time employee and beloved coach rocked our community in an even bigger way. Comments poured in from his former classmates, athletes he coached, and past and current students and staff. These new followers boosted our male fan base by four percent and increased followers over age 55 by about three percent. These new followers may help us raise attendance at alumni events and fundraisers, especially given a scholarship fund started in my colleague’s memory.

Any surge in followers is an opportunity to take a strategic look at your social media plan. Why not post a survey to ask about their interests, or just ask them? At its best, social media is two-way communication that builds trust and community well beyond your district borders.

That Little Blue Check

In order to help you distinguish real celebrities from impostors, Twitter started verifying the real accounts with little blue checks several years ago.

Just like celebrities, school districts are vulnerable to impostors. Teenagers like nothing more than setting up parody accounts to troll their schools, and they even like to see if they can get others to believe them when they call a snow day. This could be a safety issue.

To protect against this possibility, I petitioned Twitter to get my district’s account verified. Twitter doesn’t really accept requests for verification, and they prefer to reach out to brands instead. But since I had a legitimate reason, it was worth a try. A PIO from an agency in my region shared a list of information to include when making this request:

  • Twitter account handle
  • Agency name
  • Two contact names with titles and emails
  • URL of your main website as well as a URL with your Twitter handle listed

I sent this information to gov at twitter dot com (I’m trying to prevent them from getting spammed), and crossed my fingers.

They responded that they would consider my request, which I believe involved making sure we were authentic and using Twitter appropriately. It probably also helped that we have a prominent icon on our website directing people to our Twitter feed.

Then a few days later, this appeared:


The result? A few more followers, who were mostly not in our community or really concerned with our schools (including one celebrity’s account). And, much more importantly, a little peace of mind.

Snapchat offers new ways for schools to market to students

When Snapchat first arrived on the scene, there were several districts in Ohio that sent letters home to parents warning of the dangers of this mobile platform. Rightfully so, since it offered teens a way to send photos and videos to their peers (or strangers) and have them disappear in seconds (unless they were screenshot by the person on the other end). The dangers of that were real, and for a school district, Snapchat quickly earned a reputation as more negative than positive.

Fast forward to 2015, and the possibilities of Snapchat as a tool for marketing have blossomed, especially as you attempt to reach younger audiences in middle school and high school. According to Business Insider (BI) Intelligence, Snapchat’s users are majority female between the ages of 13-25, and engagement is high on Snapchat, with 40% of 18-year-olds using it multiple times daily. Also, sharing increased 100% once Snapchat Stories (see video below) were introduced, with 1 billion views daily for stories and 760 million disappearing photos and videos sent daily. Per BI Intelligence, “Brands stand to gain a lasting advantage from adopting emerging social media early.” Why not give it a shot?

Here are three ways to consider using Snapchat as part of your social toolbox:

Pure Storytelling
When my school district was ready to host our Sophomore Tour Day as part of our recruitment activities, we offered up a behind-the-scenes preview and tour of the preparations for the big event by using a Snapchat Story, a 24-hour narrative with your clips. We experimented with this and found some moderate success in students being interested in following along as we added video clips and photos (with drawings and emojis added, too) of our teachers and students getting ready to host 1,000 sophomores the next day.

Storytelling is certainly the biggest advantage to using Snapchat to reach this desired audience. You can host tours, communicate messages or run specific campaigns, such as anti-bullying messages or public service announcements. The key to these stories is they disappear within 24 hours, so they become something you market across multiple platforms to create a sense of urgency or exclusivity.

Recruiting & Advertising
If your district recruits students or needs to advertise events or campaigns to this target audience, Snapchat becomes a powerful tool, because it is so personal and so immediate. Want students to buy tickets for an athletic event, a fundraiser or a theater production? Want to direct students to do something with immediacy or communicate a call-to-action to this demographic? Snapchat can be used to remind students about everything from events and activities to delivering special messages to prospective students. Later this year, my district will use Snapchat to welcome incoming students a week after they receive their acceptance package in the mail promoting our Snapchat account (cross-platform promotion). This personalized touch is just one way we are experimenting with the uniqueness of the platform.

Want students to be engaged in your school? Snapchat provides the perfect platform to communicate with them and involve them. From scavenger hunts to giveaways, you can engage students in fun ways by “speaking their language” via Snapchat, which is proving itself much more powerful with this demographic than the fading Facebook or Twitter.

Want to see how brands and colleges are using Snapchat? Check out these accounts on Snapchat:

  • University of Michigan (UofMichigan)
  • West Virginia University (WestVirginiaU)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College (TWC_Snaps)
  • University of Kansas (jayhawks)
  • Taco Bell
  • Mashable
  • General Electric

Check out more brands using Snapchat.