Ideas to engage through niche social media

It’s safe to assume Facebook and Twitter aren’t going anywhere, and most schools have figured out how to effectively leverage these platforms. But what of all the new or niche social media out there? How can schools use these platforms to engage their communities and reinforce brand?

Google Plus

What it is: A very niche social network that is popular for long-form content, targeted communities called Circles, video conferencing called Hangouts and broadcasting opportunities through Hangouts on Air

Who uses it: 18-34 demographics are tops; dominated by males

Ideas for schools: 

  • Use Circles to build relationships and have consistent communications with your key communicators and advocates;
  • Use Hangouts On Air to broadcast messages from administrators or to host one-on-one segments with teachers, students, etc.

My take: G+ is not for mass outreach right now. Consider it as a tool to add value to other tactics rather than as a communications platform by itself.


What it is: A social video platform that only allows for 6.5 seconds on a loop. It works seamlessly with Twitter because it was created by the same people.

Who uses it: Demographic data is limited on Vine, though it tends to be a younger audience (13-24).

Ideas for schools:

  • How-to videos
  • Call-to-action campaigns
  • Host a Vine open house and push the videos out on Twitter to a larger audience.
  • Campus tours
  • Quick Q&A videos

My take: Vine is a very niche crowd and using it as a platform by itself does not make sense for schools. The content that can be created on Vine does make sense, though. If you have strong Twitter following in your district, make Vine your go-to platform for quick videos and push them out on Twitter, which has become a much more visual social platform.


What it is: A social photo and video platform. Videos on Instagram can be 15 seconds long. Instagram is owned by Facebook.

Who uses it: A younger demographic. It is one of the top platforms of ages 18-24.

Uses for schools:

  • Since you already have Facebook to share photo galleries, no use posting the same pictures here. Have a specific purpose for using Instagram.
  • That purpose could include a place to showcase school history or traditions, a place for special campaigns or a place to hold a visual open house.
  • Create special hashtags to crowdsource your content and have the community, students or teachers take photos for you.

My take: Instagram is a great place to be creative and engage your audiences by involving them in content creation. It is also a great place, thanks to their array of filters, to showcase more creative images than your typical school district photos.

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