Let’s Get Engaged!

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Let’s face it: any  PR pro working on social media projects is after the brass ring: engagement. (If you’re not, you should be!) Simply put, engagement is the connection made among social media users, whether it is likes, shares or comments. No matter how great your news, if it doesn’t get eyeballs, it’s not getting out. Experts offer many useful suggestions on how to increase engagement, but I’m going to add my short list to the mix.

Timing is Everything. Consider the time of day you are posting your content. If you’re posting based on the convenience of your schedule rather than the needs of your stakeholders, you’re missing out. Use the scheduling tool to post at times most likely to reach your audience. For example, morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up may be an opportune time to share content.

The Hook. Good writing, like good manners, is still important. If you’re hurriedly rushing through your writing to post, this is a missed opportunity. There is nothing wrong with lifting your own work to repurpose it for social.

The Payoff. Develop content that gives your stakeholders a payoff (and your organization too). By selectively choosing your content to include interesting visuals, you can advance your key messages while evoking emotion. Remember those newsworthiness values? They work on social media, too.

The Look. After you’ve submitted your post, you’ve gotta look . . . at the analytics. This form of measurement offers so much information and validation if you’re doing it right.

My office recently changed our social media approach when it comes to sharing content. For articles, we use pull quotes to draw people to click to read it. We’re doing the same for video too, and we’re using our analytics to determine when to post.

Curious how it worked? Our analytics show an increase in engagement of 122% over last week.

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How’s that for grabbing the brass ring?

 

 

 

Are you social on social media?

I once heard it said that a website is your living room, and social media is more like the kitchen or backyard. And because I can’t pass up a good mullet analogy, I think of it as business in the front, party in the back.

Social media isn’t just another website or newsletter — it’s a distinct space, a community of give and take. Here are a few ways to use this dynamic to your advantage and maximize engagement:

Be human. If you read your post aloud and it doesn’t sound the way you’d talk to your neighbor or friend, keep editing until you get it right.

When others post or comment, think of how you’d handle it in person. (Highly unlikely you’d walk away or sit in silence.) The vast majority of engagements deserve your attention, even if it’s just clicking like or favorite. If you’re dealing with a troll or unreasonable individual, go high. Respond once, invite an offline conversation (if appropriate) and — if it’s clear a fight is a higher priority than a solution — resist the temptation to engage further.

Be honest. Authenticity is the foundation of any friendship. If we can’t be honest when times are good — and honest when times are difficult — we can’t really be friends. When you need to share difficult news, or explain after an embarrassing incident that you’re already planning how you’ll do better next time, remember that you are actively building trust.

Loosen up. Generally speaking, we humans love warmth, humor and high fives. When the timing and tone is right, don’t be afraid to joke around or throw down some slang, a meme or a GIF. (It goes without saying, but there is no appropriate moment for a district voice to use vulgarity of any sort.)

Full throttle snark can be fun, but keep in mind it works best in certain social media communities and sites. It’s best to consider your platform, your audience and your purpose before adding “Be snarky” to your list of social media strategies.

If you’re not quite sure about letting down your guard, here are some simple examples that could play well in virtually any district:

Facebook Tools for Administrators to Help Connect with Others

Facebook recently released two new tools that give page administrators easier access to connect with users.

Someone liked your content but not your page? Directly invite them!
Ever had someone like your Facebook content but not the page? Of course. We are all faced with this issue. Facebook now has a tool that allows page administrators to directly invite someone, who likes a specific post, to like the page. With Facebook recently changing their algorithm (again) the reach that pages have is once again decreased. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to reach people who haven’t already liked your page. However, users can and will still see a post or posts because a friend liked it or because it was sponsored content. Grow your page by inviting those who like your content to join the page.

How does it work?
Click on the list of people who have liked a post. It will bring up a new window with the list of the people who have liked that post. To the right of each name it will say invite or liked. If it says liked, the individual already likes your page. If it says invite, click the invite box to invite them to like your page.

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Direct Message Those Who Comment On Your Page
In the past, it has been somewhat cumbersome for page administrators to directly message those that comment on a Facebook page. Now under each individual’s name, you will see three options: like, reply and message (see below). If you click on message, you will be able to send a direct message to the individual. When possible, always try to respond to the post via the thread so all visitors see the response. You show transparency and build trust this way. However, in the instances that the comment needs to be handled privately and not in the social media world, this is particularly handy. Individuals can still set their privacy so administrators may not be able to message everyone, but it is a start.

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Write the Right

Social media is all about technology. Ultimately though, it’s the words and messages that really make the difference. To that end, here’s some information that caught me by surprise that I think you’ll find interesting.

Words often look alike but have different meanings. Sound alike but have different spellings. Or look the same but sound different. Thanks to this article from Mental Floss, I now know about contronyms . . . words that are their own antonyms.

An example:

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, ‘Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression’ or does it mean, ‘Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default’?

The article lists 25 of these gems, but here are just a few:

  • Dust is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
    (Remember Amelia Bedelia?)
  • Off means “deactivated,” as in “to turn off,” but also “activated,” as in “The alarm went off.”
  • Go means “to proceed” but also “give out or fail,” as in “This car could really go until it started to go.”

The point is to be sure to choose your words carefully and eliminate any possibility that the message can be confused by a contronym.

Social Media Campaigns for Employee Recognition and Engagement

One reason school districts have embraced social media is the opportunity it gives to connect with our various stakeholders, most notably parents and community leaders. However, there is an often-overlooked stakeholder group that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, even though it is considered to be the most important group of all – our employees!

Sure, we post lots of great things about our teachers and administrators. But how often have we stopped to consider the contributions of our support personnel?  These employees serve such important roles in our schools and in the lives of students, from the bus driver who provides the first smiling face a child sees in the morning to the custodian who waves goodbye to them in the afternoon. But many times their behind-the-scenes efforts are going unnoticed, because we aren’t telling their stories like we do for our teachers.

This year, I am honoring the efforts of these hard-working employees through a social media campaign highlighting our Support Person of the Year winners from each local school. Using Canva, I create graphics for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that include photos of the employees along with short descriptions of how they are helping to shape the journey of students and fellow employees. The hashtag #journeyshaper ties back to our district’s tagline, “Prepared for the Journey,” which shows our district’s commitment to ensuring that both our students and staff are prepared for whatever journey awaits them.

The response from the support personnel has been great! Not only has it been an easy way to boost employee morale, but it has also provided new content for my social media pages and boosted engagement. This post about our central office winner received comments from other employees about how grateful they are for Kristy’s support and assistance and generated an organic reach of 3,150!

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Top Tools for Twitter Chats

Whether you’re hosting a Twitter chat for your district, or joining a conversation for your own professional development (#K12prchat), there are tools that will do the job much better than the Twitter website or app.

Here is a list of the best Twitter chat tools out there.

The first few options all have a chatroom-like interface and automatically include the chat hashtag when you tweet.

Twubs

Pros: Unlike other options, Twubs gives you a square preview of images in any tweets.

Cons: If someone replies to you without including the hashtag, you might not see it in Twubs. Clicking the retweet button will do an old-school retweet (“RT” followed by the user’s tweet).

Tweetchat

Pros: Tweetchat gives you the option of “highlighting” specific people, for example the chat moderator so that you can more easily see when they post a question.

Cons: Uses old-school retweets and retweets with comments. Images are left out. You won’t see any replies if they are missing the chat hashtag.

Similar to Tweetchat is tchat.io, but without the “highlight” feature, and clicking the retweet button will open a popup window to Twitter, where you can do a real retweet or retweet with comment.

Twitterfall

This interface was daunting at first glance, and the dark interface isn’t as inviting as those mentioned above. However, Twitterfall is definitely more powerful. In addition to following one hashtag chat, you can follow any number of search terms or Twitter lists. You can also have mentions show up, in case someone replies to you but forgets to include the hashtag.

Bonus: you can color code the tweets; for example, direct replies or mentions will be in black, while tweets with your hashtag can be any other color of your choosing.

Tweetdeck

This is what I use for monitoring Twitter on a daily basis. For a chat, it won’t give you that “chatroom” feeling, but you will have access to the usual features that the above tools won’t provide.

The ideal set up includes one column to follow the chat hashtag, and one column to see your mentions and replies. If you are the chat moderator/host, you could even use the scheduled tweets column to set up a queue of questions to go out at specific times during the chat. Plus, you can use real retweets and retweet with comments — a feature missing from all other Twitter chat tools.

There are two downsides. First, you can’t make the columns very wide, so you will only see a few tweets at a time — much less of a “chatroom” feeling. Second, Tweetdeck won’t automatically include the chat hashtag when you tweet.

Similar to Tweetdeck is the reliable, column-based interface Hootsuite. The downside, however, is that their fastest automated refresh is 2 minutes. You have to manually refresh a column if you want to see new tweets any faster.

What I use

No one tool has every feature. During Twitter chats I use Twubs as my primary tool, with Tweetdeck open in another window so I can be notified of mentions and replies that don’t include the chat hashtag.

Here is a feature comparison chart to help you find your ideal Twitter chat tool:

Twitter Chat Tool Comparison Chart

Using video to optimize your Facebook reach

Video is king of social media. I know it, you know it, we all know it. Even amidst the constant fluctuation of Facebook algorithm changes, video remains a huge part of Facebook. The average video post on our Parkway Schools Facebook page reaches four times more people on average than a post with a photo and eight times more on average than a post containing a link.

Rather than try to beat the game, just make awesome stuff! Post as much video content as you can. If you don’t think you can do it because you lack the equipment or expertise, consider this: the majority of content can be done with a tool you carry with you every day – your phone. Some of my favorite apps to edit video on my phone are iMovie and GoPro’s Splice. If you have an Android phone, Videoshop is a terrific tool.

Here are some tips on what type of content works best:

Interviewing kids:
Seems obvious right? But anytime you put a camera in front of a few students and ask a simple question, they often say some of the most funny, smart and genuine things you could imagine.

Spin on what’s hot:
Seen the #MannequinChallenge? Maybe the Tasty videos? Keep updated on the latest trends and create something similar that ties in to your district in a unique way.

Kindness counts:
Feel-good, emotional stories usually do very well on social media. Did students open up a food pantry, donate time or have a special friendship? Those stories tug heartstrings.

Have fun! We have terrific kids among us who do amazing things every day. Hollywood studios would love to have what we have. Go capture those moments!