Keep In Touch With Your Audience Even If You Don’t Have All The Answers

We, along with most of the country, experienced the polar vortex last week. We had several days advanced warning that this could potentially affect whether we had school and anticipated that we would see a rise in questions and comments on our social media channels. The feedback we received reminded me how important it is to keep in touch with your audience.

The first really cold day fell on a Sunday and the second on a Monday, which meant we only had to make a decision for school on one day. As Sunday afternoon came, our social media channels began blowing up with comments and questions regarding a decision on school. A decision hadn’t yet been made but that afternoon we posted a message that we would make a decision by 5 p.m. that day and to stay tuned. Although we did still receive comments that we should close, it seemed to make most people happy. The simple message let people know we were watching the weather closely and hearing their concerns. We eventually did call school and posted that on social media as well.

The message about making a decision soon not only kept our audience informed but ended up being a great marketing strategy. The message was shared more and generated more likes to our Facebook page than our actual no-school message did.

This story was a good reminder to always keep your audience informed. Even if you don’t have all the answers yet, let them know you are listening and paying attention to what they are saying. It is better to tell them you are listening and working on getting the answers than to stay quiet and have them feel like they are being ignored. In addition, this helps to build authenticity and respect for your social media channels.

Snow Days, and Other Ways to Build Followers on Social Media

We are in the midst of a cold and snowy spell here in St. Louis, which has me thinking about “snow days.” For our Facebook page, no single event or post receives more “likes,” “shares,” “comments” or “views” than a day off from school. Naturally, the same is true for Twitter, where our school closing posts garner more “retweets” and “favorites” than any other stories.

Once our community members realize that we post the information quickly on our social media pages, they like or follow us and then continue to receive our updates throughout the year.

As we learn more about our audience, the other most-liked posts are those linking to feature stories on our website, including photos and stories about our students excelling in academics and doing good things in our schools and community.

But this year, one post stood out among the rest for us:

“Congratulations to the Class of 2013 who will graduate at 6 p.m. tonight! Because this is graduation day for students at Ritenour High School, we’d like to see how many Ritenour grads we have on this page. Please comment below with the year you graduated from RHS.”

This simple post (listed below), placed on our Facebook page on a Saturday from my phone, was seen by nearly 20,000 people, had 319 likes and 699 comments – which broke all records for our page of more than 3,200 followers. Also, more than 50 new people “liked” our page in the days following the post.

The information we collected about our alumni is invaluable, and anecdotally it was good to know how large of a percentage of our Facebook audience graduated from our district. It really helped us learn more about those following our district on the social media site. This is something we plan to post every year.

Does anyone else have other ways they built their likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter?  Please share them in the comments.

Streamline Your Life Using Twitter Lists

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by your Twitter feed these days?

Try creating Twitter lists, a great way to customize your Twitter timeline, follow conversations among people categorized by occupation, topic or relationship to you, and clear your Twitter “desk” in an organized way.

If you’re not using Twitter lists, you normally see the tweets of all the Twitter accounts you follow at once, and that can be overwhelming. By creating your own Twitter list or by following already existing lists, you automatically create or join a community of like-minded tweeps. The key here is that even if you join a Twitter list, you don’t have to follow every individual on that list, keeping your timeline a lot more manageable.

To create your own Twitter list, click on “Lists” in the drop-down at the top right of your Twitter home page. Choose “Create a List,” and then follow the steps. To follow a list that has already been created, visit the list on Twitter and click on “Follow This List.” (Try Googling Twitter lists and see what comes up.)

If you’ve created your own list, you can add people by going to their profiles and clicking on “Lists.” Check the box next to the List to which you’d like to add the individual.  While creating a list, you can decide if you’d like it to be private or public.

Here are some Twitter lists I follow, and others, all education-related, that I recommend. Have fun with these lists, and feel free to add more in the comments section here.

National Education Associations  (a Twitter list of 24 national education associations)

Education Media

NSPRA Tweeps (a list of 155 tweeting NSPRA members and chapters, organized by Nicole Kirby)

K-12 Schools on Twitter (A list of 242 schools on Twitter)