Update: Connecting with District Retirees through Facebook

Back in the fall 2013, the Ritenour School District started a private Facebook group for retired employees. After nearly three years, the page has proven to be an effective way to engage and correspond with some of the district’s most valuable communicators.

In Ritenour, located in suburban St. Louis County, Mo., our retired employees are an active and influential group. They get together for lunch and dinner on a regular basis, and many serve as tutors for our elementary school students. We consider our retirees some of our greatest ambassadors and key communicators within the community.

We correspond with our retired employees in a variety of ways: by hosting an annual luncheon, providing volunteer opportunities, sharing our district’s newsletters, and, on the sad occasion, sending a funeral notice via email.

In three years, we have added more than 50 of our retirees to our private Facebook page. In total, we have more than 400 active retirees, so we are always trying to increase the number we connect with on social media.

The feedback from our Facebook page has been tremendous. We receive dozens of “likes” and “shares” for each post. Because it is part of a private group, you can see how many people have viewed each item, which helps us track our analytics. Many users have commented that the page helps keep them more connected to our district and provides them with points of pride to share with others. Several of our retirees are prolific Facebook users and like to share and comment on every post.

We have a lot of fun on the Facebook page as well. We share the good news from our district, birthdays, personnel moves and some fun Internet memes. We also share videos, anecdotes and the occasional funeral notice. We don’t share everything from our district page; typically we find two or three stories or news items to share each week.

If you have the time, building and maintaining a Facebook page like this should be part of your social media toolbox — it is well worth the time and effort.

Facebook Multilingual Posts and Other Hidden Gems

Facebook, now 12 years old, doesn’t lack when it comes to options and settings to toggle. It seems that each time I log on, a feature has been added, moved or has completely disappeared, often without explanation.

Posts in Multiple Languages

Facebook now gives you the ability to write a post in more than one language simultaneously. Each person who has liked your page will see the post in their timeline only in the language they have chosen for Facebook.

However, this option has to be turned on manually in the Settings area (https://www.facebook.com/%5Byourpage%5D/settings) for each page you own.

Featured Pages

Each Facebook Page can feature other pages that it has liked. These will show under the Liked by This Page section in the left-hand column on the page. This is one way, for example, for a high school page to promote the pages of its feeder schools.

These featured pages can be selected by first liking them as your page, then going to the Featured tab in the Settings area (https://www.facebook.com/%5Byourpage%5D/settings/?tab=featured).

Merge Pages

Over the last two years I’ve noticed many unclaimed place pages for our schools, some of them with hundreds of likes and check-ins. Little by little, I have claimed them and used the merge pages feature to roll them in with the official school pages. All check-ins and likes are combined with the official page.

Suggest Page to Email Contacts

This option seems to be available only to pages with a few likes who need a boost. While on your page, click the three dots button over the cover image and select “Suggest Page.”

A panel will pop up where you can upload email addresses. Facebook will see if any of those addresses match the email addresses of its users, and show those users a suggestion to like your page.

This is a free alternative to Facebook Ads and is a good option for new pages trying to boost likes.

Are there any hidden gems you’ve found in Facebook?

Give ‘Em What They Want: Three Things the Data Reveal

One of the benefits of social media is how much more measurable it is than most of our other communication tools. We can see what people like, what they click on, what they respond to and what messages resonate for them.

In my district, using Facebook insights, Twitter analytics, survey data and focus group feedback, we developed a picture of what our key audiences want to hear from us:

  1. Things that affect their lives
    If it answers the question, “What does this have to do with me?”, it is great content. This is why the school board approving the calendar is such big news. It is also why people care more about pictures and videos from their own schools. In my district, we make sure to cover every school in the district at least once a month.

    When we, like the other districts in the Kansas City area, canceled school for the Royals’ World Series parade and celebration, our social media posts blew up. Like a snow day, this affects everyone.


  2. Success stories
    When the district succeeds, it validates for people that they are in a successful district. District awards, teacher awards and student awards all get great engagement, and not just from the people who know the award-winners.Our Facebook photo album from our annual awards banquet got off-the-charts engagement:


  3. Visual storytelling
    Thanks in part in to people’s love for strong imagery and in part to social-media algorithms that push photos and videos, visual elements have the most impact. To fully take advantage of this, we not only produce lots of photos and videos, we tag people in the photos and we make sure to use the native video players. On Facebook, using the platform’s auto-playing videos get lots more eyeballs on our content than links to videos somewhere else.