X Marks the Spot

In a previous post, Staking Your Claim, I discussed the need for you to make sure you’ve secured your district’s brand on different social media channels. Now it’s time to assist your fans in telling the district’s story through social media.

A popular pastime for social media users is checking in. Users can flag their posts with location information, announcing their whereabouts to followers. In the case of Facebook, when mobile users select “check in,” Facebook tries to determine where they are. Relying on GPS, cell tower and WiFi technology, Facebook offers up a list of nearby locations.

When it display results, the user can select a location and announce to all of their friends, fans, and followers how thrilled they are to be there. The trick for you is to make sure your district or individual school pops up in the list. And if it does pop up, that the information is correct.

By using the tools found on the Admin Panel of your page, you can review, edit and annotate the information associated with check-in postings. Key among these is having the right address listed. This determines whether your location shows up during the check-in procedure.

Again, if you haven’t established your official location, someone else may have started an ad hoc listing. Facebook does have tools to let you (as the authorized business representative) get control of those listings and even merge them with your official listing or delete the unofficial ones.

Five Things to Stop Doing with Your District’s Social Media

  1. Stop posting things people don’t care about. If your followers don’t respond to certain kinds of content, abandon that content in favor of the things they want to see. Use your likes, favorites, retweets and other insights to gauge their engagement.
  2. Stop posting things too late. There’s a reason Instagram has “insta” in its name. Social media users on all platforms expect immediacy, so post those photos the same day as the event, or at least the next day.
  3. Stop synchronizing your Facebook and Twitter feeds. I went into this in more depth a few weeks ago.
  4. Stop following everyone who follows you. Some might interpret your decision to follow or favorite an account as an endorsement by your district, so be selective. Businesses might do this, but school districts have to be more careful.
  5. Stop being so serious! The most successful social media accounts have humor and personality, so let your hair down a little (within reason).

Marketing Your Social Media Channels

One of the questions I hear all too often is “We have our social media platforms, why don’t people follow or like us?” Well, the concept of “if you build it, they will come” is only partially true when it comes to social media.

It’s important to remember that just because you are on a social media platform doesn’t mean your audience knows you are. First, it is important to pick social media platforms that you know your audience is using. Once you have decided what social media platforms to use, marketing them is important to their success. Some individuals will instinctively know the district or school is on social media, but not everyone will have considered the possibility. Even if they might have considered that you have a social media account, they still may not follow or like you. Part of your marketing message should be to tell parents and community members why it would be beneficial for them to like or follow the school or district. If they see the value, they will be more likely to do so.

When considering how to market social media, it can sometimes be challenging to come up with fresh ideas. Here are some suggestions on how to market social media to parents and community members, all of which we have done in our district:

  • Sidewalk chalk outside each school
  • Yard signs
  • District publications
  • Webpage
  • Flyers
  • Newsletters (school and district and staff)
  • Cross promotion (posting link to district page on school pages)
  • Links on our app
  • Links in email signatures
  • Information on business cards
  • Connect with us postcards
  • Information in community youth activities publication
  • Like and interact with city pages
  • Run contests on Facebook page
  • Tagging businesses or people who are in published stories
  • Facebook advertising
  • Share or retweet content from other sites that are relevant to your audience
  • Media stories about the launch and linking to positive media stories about your schools and district

It is also important to note that your social media platform is also a marketing tool. If you post regularly and respond to questions, those that like or follow you will notice. The page will create its own buzz. People will talk about what they see on your page and word of mouth is the best and cheapest form of marketing.

I’d be interested to know how other school districts market social media in their district.

The Advantages of Scheduling Social Media Posts in Advance

Have you ever had one of those days (or months) where you just can’t keep up with everything being thrown at you? There are times when our office has to take care of an emergency and other things seem to fall by the wayside, including our proactive and positive social media posts.

That is why we find it very beneficial to schedule our social media messages in advance.  Whether it is details about an upcoming district event, back-to-school information or a reminder to take a survey – you can use several tools to set up social media posts ahead of time.

Our office uses the scheduling tool on Facebook as well as the free version of HootSuite for Twitter.

Scheduling your posts offers many opportunities and advantages:

  • You are in control of your posting schedule and can post on social media in the evenings and weekends without having to be at your computer (or at work!).
  • You can create your content plan and schedule in advance. And most importantly, you can tie it into your overall communications strategy.
  • You can find the perfect time to post your content. We find that posting information later in the afternoon results in a greater number of views as well as likes on Facebook.
  • You can coordinate all of your messages. For example, a letter from our superintendent to the community can be scheduled to post on our website, through our rapid notification system and on social media all at the same time.

In the summer months, we set up many posts when we are out of the office. Often I find myself surprised to see a story on my news feed that I had forgotten we had scheduled weeks in advance!

It’s also a fun way to share old photos on a weekly basis as part of a Throwback Thursday or other campaign. You can set up as many weeks as you would like in advance and simply sit back while social media sites do the work for you.