How to recover from a social media mistake

Mistakes happen to all of us. Sometimes they are inconsequential. Other times, a major disaster. They happen at work, in our personal lives, and on social media.

So, when you inadvertently misspell “magic” or accidentally post the wrong date or time on Facebook, how do you fix it? Sometimes it’s as easy as editing a post or uploading a new photo. But what do you do when you can’t fix it or when it’s a big one?

During our arctic blast in Texas last week, a neighboring district made a mistake. They tweeted that school was closed the following day. Then, a few minutes later, they tweeted that the initial tweet was a mistake – the decision had not been made yet. Oops.

Students fumed and raged. They creatively told the district what they thought about the mistake – in nice and not-so-nice ways. While this could have been a huge black eye for this district, they recovered from it nicely. It helped that they actually did cancel school about 30 minutes later, but a quick apology and continued ownership of the mistake made all the difference.

So how can you fix a boo-boo on social media? Here are some tips:

  1. Own your mistake. They happen: small ones like spelling errors or omitting a name and big ones like accidentally canceling school via Twitter. Just ‘fess up and take ownership. Apologize, correct the information and move on.
  2. Laugh about it (when appropriate). Humor can work in your favor in when a mistake happens. Recently, I responded to a student on Twitter and I spelled “magic” wrong. Oh, did our students have a heyday with me. A quick-witted response and correction gave them a good laugh. A few minutes later, when a student spelled his own tweet wrong, I ribbed him a little and gained some leniency with my own grammar faux pas.
  3. Give a little to those affected. Did your mistake directly impact someone? Maybe you posted the wrong time for an event or left a student off a list of winners. Give the event or the student a few minutes in the spotlight with their own post. Quickly explain (if you have space), and then put the spotlight on anyone or anything that might have been affected by the blunder.
  4. Go easy on yourself. Remember, mistakes happen to the best of us. None of us are immune, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Smile, laugh and move on – but take care to not repeat the same mistake again!

Snow Go or No Go?


It seems likely that most NSPRA members have experienced some sort of weather-related closings during this wacky winter. For some, record-setting snowfalls have made it perfectly obvious that schools will be closed. For others, iffy forecasts make the decision to close school a crystal-ball exercise, often rewarded by criticism and complaints.

Thankfully, once a decision is made, using social media to announce closings gives us more flexibility and efficiency in communicating the news. To make the best use of these tools and ensure clearer communication, here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Date-stamp and time-stamp your messages – Beginning a message with “EFFECTIVE March 5 at 1:30 PM” makes it very clear which message is the latest and currently significant.
  • Use very clear language (to the point of being redundant) – Don’t leave anything to interpretation. A message that states “Classes for Thursday, March 5, have been canceled” gives two points of reference.
  • Make sure your day and date are in sync with each other – There’s nothing more frustrating than sending a message to thousands of viewers only to have to send a revision 30 seconds later.
  • Use all the channels you have at your disposal – Go ahead and post on each platform you regularly use, but be sure to have a consistent message.
  • Share the chore – While you may restrict who can alter your website (which might also take more tech skills to change), pull together a team that can divide and conquer the work needed to update all the other channels you use. Just make sure all the team members have the needed access rights and the same message to deliver.
  • Don’t forget Plan B – Have a backup person at-the-ready in case you lose your power or technology.
  • Finally, when the storm has passed, be sure to take your website and voicemail auto-attendant messages back to normal.

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.