Facebook’s Business Manager: Useful?

When I heard Facebook introduced a new tool for managers of pages, I excitedly signed up and started using it for my district’s page.

I quickly learned that all the new whiz-bang features actually target folks who frequently advertise on Facebook. Since we rarely do this in my district, it just became another step to accessing our page insights, which we use regularly.

My verdict on this tool for school PR: meh. Unless you’re using ads.

If you don’t believe me, you just want to see for yourself, or you advertise a lot, check it out: https://business.facebook.com.

Facebook as a tool for staff collaboration

This fall my school district began a pilot project with six other districts across Oregon. Eighty educators are participating, from urban and rural schools scattered across southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley to the Blue Mountains, Portland and the north coast.

Grant funding covers travel costs to meet once a month, but how can we keep continuous, two-way communication flowing as participants need to share research, planning and data?

My suggestion was to launch a Facebook group. This gives our collaborative the option of a closed group, allowing for free-flowing, large-group private conversations about our ongoing work, which may differ significantly from place to place.

The advantages are many:

• No email log-jam: Rather than flooding the inboxes of 80 people with a stream of reply-all emails, Facebook groups provide access in a non-intrusive way that makes it easy to scroll down through conversation threads.

• Casual conversations are creative: As an informal communication tool, Facebook frees group members to brainstorm and converse more freely than they would in Google Docs or Dropbox. In a groundbreaking project, the creative thinking and innovation this generates are keys to success.

• Continuous communication: With the moderator’s strategic use of “What-if” questions and weekly reports from each partner group, the long-distance collaborative project builds energy and momentum day-to-day, rather than drifting off the priorities list between monthly meetings.

Whether your group project is spread across a large school district, across an entire state or across multiple states, Facebook groups are an important tool to move your project forward through two-way, continuous communication.

Connecting a Community through Social Media

With this being the season for caring for others and giving thanks, I wanted to share a wonderful way social media is being used to honor a retired educator in my hometown.

This fall, we found out our recently retired band teacher and athletic director was suffering from cancer and not doing well. His treatments were becoming very difficult, and his health prognosis for the long term is not good.

In October, his son decided to start a secret social media group on Facebook and asked his former students to share stories and anecdotes about their time with his father. Within days, the group grew to more than 2,000 people and has now ballooned to more than 3,500 members.

To put the numbers in perspective, the population of my hometown is a little more than 8,000 people, so 3,500 is a significant group for the size of the community. While the entire town is sad about the the prognosis, the outpouring on social media has been nothing short of amazing.

Students began to fill the page with stories, anecdotes and photos right away. Shortly thereafter, parents, co-workers, friends, family members and many others joined the group. All were sharing favorite memories about the teacher – the good, bad, ugly and funny. It is an entire lifetime of memories and photos shared on one Facebook group page.

Personally, I have seen many memorials after someone has passed away, but this is the first time I have seen an outpouring of this magnitude for someone who is still living.

For a few weeks, the posts were kept from the teacher. Then, as he started going through some difficult treatments he was added to the page. Reading the posts helped distract him from the pain and helped him pull through. He still reads and responds to the posts on a regular basis and notes that he is still “alive and kicking!”

As I have been reading the postings and observing this outpouring of goodwill, I wanted to share this wonderful way to celebrate the life of a retired teacher. What a tremendous way to show education professionals the impact they have on the lives of thousands of students throughout their career.