Using Facebook to respond to your district’s patrons

On my district’s Facebook page, there is a little badge that sometimes turns green and sometimes does not, depending on how quickly we respond to questions and comments from our patrons.

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The badge itself is not an incentive, because we don’t have the staffing to try to beat Facebook’s target of responding to each message in about 15 minutes. In addition, if you don’t get the last word in the conversation, Facebook sometimes doesn’t count your response. We don’t want to make our interactions awkward just to game this measurement.

However, we do try to get back to people within 24 hours, as the Messages tool is a great way for students, parents, community members and alumni to reach out to us. We turned off the ability for people to make public posts on our page, so they tend to use this feature to contact us.

Recently, Facebook beefed up the Messages interface, and we find it easy to use when responding.

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How do you use this tool?

Reactions Now Weighted More in Facebook Algorithm

Many of us have become accustomed to the Facebook reactions that began rolling out last year. In late February 2017, Facebook completed the rollout, ensuring that users worldwide could now use reactions. For those unfamiliar with reactions – Facebook users can hold their cursor over the like button and then select from like, love, haha, wow, sad or angry.

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With the rollout worldwide, Facebook also announced that when users use a reaction rather than hitting the like button, it would be weighted more in the news feed algorithm. According to a Facebook news release:

“Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post. In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.”

What Does This Mean For Social Media Managers?
Page owners will now have a better understanding of how their users are interacting with the content they publish. In the past, it was sometimes difficult to decipher what a user really meant by liking the content.

Additionally, instead of asking users to “like” your content, ask them to react to the post. This will increase engagement on your page and ensure users are consistently seeing relevant content from your organization.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

By now, you have no doubt read many tips about how often you should be posting on social media, which days are best for posting, and what time of day is ideal for posts. While consistency, frequency and timing are important, I’ll suggest that content continues to be king.

Creating and posting and creating and posting is a never-ending chore. It’s great to rack up volumes of posts, but it’s even better to start growing engagement, as measured by the number of shares, likes and comments your posts receive. That kind of engagement depends on the creation of captivating content . . . thoughts, ideas, opinions and how-tos that your readers are compelled to share with their communities.

In a treasure of an article entitled “The Science Behind What Love People Love to Share on Social Media,” the folks at Kissmetrics have graciously shared some valuable insights. Be sure to take a look at the full article to get all the details.

Here are some brief nuggets that relate to Facebook:

  • Of the top million posts on Facebook in the last six months, the most popular content type was quizzes, at 51,968 total shares. The average article had 15,527 shares. The key here is to create quizzes for which the questions and answers are centered around your district or schools: historical events, current-day activities or gee-whiz numbers.
  • Should you keep your posts short? Survey says . . . not really. Posts of 2,000-2,500 words do 15-percent better than those that are 0-500 words and 24-percent better than posts of 500-1,000 words.
  • Videos need to be longer that what you might have thought – those that are between 4:00 and 4:20 do much better than short snips, such as those that are only 0-20 seconds or 40-60 seconds.

The article has similar suggestions and tips for LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.

Crossposting Videos on Multiple Facebook Pages

If you’ve happened to wander into the Settings area of your Facebook Page in the past few months, you may have noticed a new setting called “Crossposting.” If you have multiple Facebook pages or work with others who run pages in your district, crossposting is a great way to share video content and the analytics that go with it.

Say that the high school posts a video to their Facebook page of the choir performing at a high profile event. If it’s something you want followers of the district’s page to see, crossposting gives you the ability to do it without having to re-upload the video or merely share the original post.

To get started, each page has to give mutual permission for crossposting:

  1. Visit the Settings > Crossposting area for your Facebook page (for example, the district page).
  2. Add the Facebook pages with which you would like to allow crossposting of videos (for example, school pages).
  3. For those pages you are a manager, go to the same Settings > Crossposting area and add the district page. The pages are now set up to crosspost.
  4. For pages you do not manage, you can send them a link to confirm the crossposting relationship. Click the chainlink button next to “This Page hasn’t added yours” and it will provide a link to send to the page’s manager.

Crossposting videos

  1. Next time you upload a video to a page, go to the Crossposting tab and turn on the other pages where you would like to allow the video to be crossposted. This does NOT automatically post the video to those pages, but rather gives the ability for those pages to post the video later. This will also send a notification to the other pages that they have a video available for crossposting.
  2. Go to the Publishing Tools > Videos You Can Crosspost area for the page on which you want to crosspost. You will now see the video you just uploaded. Add a checkmark next to the video and under Actions, choose “Create Post With This Video…”
  3. Feel free to add a completely different text for the post, and don’t forget to tag the original page, if appropriate.

Viewing Analytics

Managers of both pages will be able to see analytics for the video, and which posts the views are coming from.

Try this useful feature and see the Facebook Crossposted Videos Product Guide (PDF) for more information.

Engaging with students on snow days

It’s an issue for many districts across the country. As we previously have read and debated, a school district employee was fired partly due to how they responded to a student’s tweet about snow days. So do you engage and how do you engage with students on Twitter?

Prior to 2016, we had students talking to us at Parkway about snow days online, but we never really engaged in the conversation. That changed last year, and we saw massive gains in the number of impressions (327,400 vs. 113,400), engagement rate (5.4 percent vs. 3 percent) and followers (750 new followers) on our Twitter account during just a few weeks in the winter. But these aren’t just numbers for numbers sake. These are our kids. They matter to us.

We realized that there’s an opportunity — to listen and to talk. If your students are talking to you, do you ignore comments? Or do you engage with them while using the moment as a digital citizenship teaching experience? If students know that you’re actively listening to them and respond in a relatable way, that builds trust. Perhaps nothing is more important in our profession than building trust, especially with kids.

As we plan for winter communications, we face an opportunity during these moments to engage our student audience. We have a snow-day communications plan that includes:

  • Replying to student tweets in a fun and engaging way that they would respond to.
  • Getting ahead of the “Twitter storm” by tweeting out closings and cancellations on Twitter BEFORE announcing them via phone call, text or other methods.
  • Using anything that goes what we consider too far as an opportunity to teach kids about digital citizenship.

The opportunity is staring right at us. Students want to know we care and that we are here for them. There’s no better time to do that than meeting them where they’re already living every day.

 

How far should you take the humor in your district’s social media?

Recently, several districts made national news for their reactions on Twitter to students campaigning for a snow day:

The common guidance is to have a conversational, humorous tone in your social media, when appropriate.

But where is the line for what is appropriate?

In my district, although we’ve been tempted to return snarky tweets with equal snark, we always resist the urge. If we respond, it is always with a business-like tone. On the other hand, our feeds are not as fun as other districts’.

Where do you think the line for social-media propriety lands?

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?