About Kala Morrissey

Kala Morrissey is the Coordinator of Marketing and Visual Information for Omaha Public Schools. She is currently the President of the Nebraska Chapter of NSPRA. Kala has presented at the local, state and national level on the role of social media in education. She was named to NSPRA's 35 under 35 list in 2012 and a NSPRA Front Runner in 2014-15.

Having Fun with GIFs

GIFs have become common practice on personal and business social media pages. Is your district using them? They are a great way to engage your audience and have a little fun.

Social Media Examiner recently posted about how to make animated gifs. It is a fantastic resource for anyone new to GIF making.

With summer just around the corner for many school districts, here are some GIFs for my school PR friends.

When I think about how many days are left in the school year:clap

When I realize there are only 58 days till #NSPRASeminar2017:
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When I think about all the summer projects I need to complete:giphy (2)

When I think about back-to-school planning:
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When I think about that vacation I have been planning all year long:
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Reactions Now Weighted More in Facebook Algorithm

Many of us have become accustomed to the Facebook reactions that began rolling out last year. In late February 2017, Facebook completed the rollout, ensuring that users worldwide could now use reactions. For those unfamiliar with reactions – Facebook users can hold their cursor over the like button and then select from like, love, haha, wow, sad or angry.

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With the rollout worldwide, Facebook also announced that when users use a reaction rather than hitting the like button, it would be weighted more in the news feed algorithm. According to a Facebook news release:

“Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post. In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.”

What Does This Mean For Social Media Managers?
Page owners will now have a better understanding of how their users are interacting with the content they publish. In the past, it was sometimes difficult to decipher what a user really meant by liking the content.

Additionally, instead of asking users to “like” your content, ask them to react to the post. This will increase engagement on your page and ensure users are consistently seeing relevant content from your organization.

Facebook Tools for Administrators to Help Connect with Others

Facebook recently released two new tools that give page administrators easier access to connect with users.

Someone liked your content but not your page? Directly invite them!
Ever had someone like your Facebook content but not the page? Of course. We are all faced with this issue. Facebook now has a tool that allows page administrators to directly invite someone, who likes a specific post, to like the page. With Facebook recently changing their algorithm (again) the reach that pages have is once again decreased. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to reach people who haven’t already liked your page. However, users can and will still see a post or posts because a friend liked it or because it was sponsored content. Grow your page by inviting those who like your content to join the page.

How does it work?
Click on the list of people who have liked a post. It will bring up a new window with the list of the people who have liked that post. To the right of each name it will say invite or liked. If it says liked, the individual already likes your page. If it says invite, click the invite box to invite them to like your page.

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Direct Message Those Who Comment On Your Page
In the past, it has been somewhat cumbersome for page administrators to directly message those that comment on a Facebook page. Now under each individual’s name, you will see three options: like, reply and message (see below). If you click on message, you will be able to send a direct message to the individual. When possible, always try to respond to the post via the thread so all visitors see the response. You show transparency and build trust this way. However, in the instances that the comment needs to be handled privately and not in the social media world, this is particularly handy. Individuals can still set their privacy so administrators may not be able to message everyone, but it is a start.

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Engage Your Audience and Grow Your Following During Snow Days

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What would you do if you knew that thousands of people were simultaneously watching your social media accounts waiting to see just two simple words, “snow day”?

Like so many school districts, when there is a possibility of snow, parents and students take to our social media accounts knowing that we will announce a snow day there first. So, if you knew there were going to be so many people looking at your social media all at one time, what would you do? The answer should be ENGAGE THEM!

On our most recent snow day, we added more than 700 new followers across our district and superintendent social media channels, and our engagement was six times our normal rate.

  • If your superintendent is on social media, have him or her engage in the conversation (before, during and after) and let them make the first official announcement.
    • If your superintendent is new to Twitter, like ours, have them follow other superintendents to see how they engage with students and parents.
  • Retweet and share the “official” announcement in various places.
    • Our superintendent sends the first “official” announcement. We share this message, as well as an official message from the district page.
    • Do you have community pages? Share on these.
  • Run a contest
    • Who can provide the best reason to have a snow day?
    • Who can build the best snow man?
  • Engage with media outlets and local city officials.
    • Retweet your closing announcements from media outlets.
    • Thank city crews (tag the public works department or official city account) for working so hard to keep the streets clean.
    • Share pictures of your school district grounds crew working to clear parking lots and sidewalks.

What other tips do you have for engaging your audience during snow days? Feel free to post them in the comments.

When the Thunder Rolls…Dealing With A Social Media Storm

We see it on social media ALL the time. Someone posts something that seems innocent enough, and before we know it, the post or tweet has gone viral as a misstep. The thunder rolls in and a social media storm develops.

This fall our district dealt with a social media storm when we least expected it.

The backstory:
When we changed from carton milk to bagged milk, we tested it in several schools the year before. We implemented it this year. All seemed to be going well…until one day. We posted about one of the local media stations doing a story on the new milk, and the storm hit! The district became inundated with comments of parents unhappy with the decision to change and rumors began to fly.

Now that the clouds have dissipated and the storm has passed, here are a few things we were reminded of during our social media storm:

  1. Listen to your Audience
    The great thing about social media is the two-way communication. If you are on social media, you should be willing to take that feedback, evaluate and make changes if necessary. For us, the situation was something that wasn’t on our radar as a concern. After hearing from the public, we took the opportunity to take polls and hear more from our community about the issue.
  2.  Know the Difference Between Misrepresentation of Facts and a Difference of Opinions
    It is important to know the difference between misrepresentation of facts and a difference of opinion. Not everyone is going to agree with a district decision, and that is OK (snow days). If someone has concerns, we would rather they involve us in the conversation then take that conversation elsewhere. If there is incorrect information – take the opportunity to give them the correct information.
  1. Educate Your Audience
    With any situation, rumors tend to fly quickly. Take the opportunity to tell your audiences the facts. Make sure they hear them from you, which leaves less room for misinterpretation.
  1. Transparency
    Transparency is key. Throughout the whole storm, we remained very transparent. People had a lot of questions and concerns about reasons for the change, nutritional facts and the taste of the milk. We answered all their questions in multiple communication methods, shared the nutritional facts and even had our Board of Education taste the milk at a public meeting.
  1. Vocal Minority
    Look at the commenters. Is a small number people posting multiple times or is it a large number of people posting concerns? Many times it is a vocal minority.
  1. Admit Wrongdoing – Correct the Problem
    If there truly is wrongdoing, admit it! Sometimes the best thing to do is apologize, show your audience that you are learning from the issue and fix it.
  1. Build Trust With Your Audience Ahead of Time
    No matter what the issue is, follow these steps prior to any storm – social media or otherwise – and you will build trust with your audience. Building trust helps to minimize social media storms ahead of time.

For many, when they experience a social media storm, their first instinct is to shy away. The way we handled this storm showed the value of schools using social media. We give our community the opportunity to provide feedback, we listened and evaluated what we were doing. We included our audience in the whole process. Ultimately, we didn’t change what we were doing, but I believe our community feels like we listened to their concerns and took them into account when making a final decision. That’s invaluable.

Watch What Others Do On Social Media; Use Facebook Pages To Help

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Some of the best social media ideas I have implemented have come from watching what other schools and districts are doing. Watch what others do on social media. Repeat after me: watch what others do on social media. Watching what others do will give you ideas on how to expand your social media presence and ideas on how to keep content fresh.

As part of my professional development, I follow several other schools, districts and school PR people from across the country on social media. However, sometimes I miss really great posts. To help, I use Facebook Insights. It helps me to track schools I know are using social media really well.

In Facebook Page Insights, I can add pages to watch. It lists the pages, the total page likes they currently have, their increase or decrease in likes for the week, the number of posts for the week and their engagement for the week. If I see a page had a high number of likes or engagement, I can click on the Facebook page and see what their posts were about and what posts had really high engagement.

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Twitter Officially Allows Retweeting With Comments

If you have been watching your Twitter feed recently, you may have noticed some changes. In early April, Twitter officially revamped the retweet feature.

Since the beginning of Twitter, retweeting has been a common practice. However, it sometimes took creative thinking to get the original message and your added commentary into the 140-character limit. Now, users can retweet content and add to the conversation.

When users retweet, it now puts the original tweet in a box and you can add your own commentary, up to 116 characters in length.

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Some users like the new look, others do not. I think it gives the Twitter feed a cleaner look, but it does make pictures and graphics smaller (especially on mobile devices). I also like the fact that you don’t have to squeeze your comments and the original post into 140 characters.