Unique ways to create fresh social content

Having an overarching social media strategy is vital, but just as important is creating fresh, interesting content that engages your followers. In the busy school PR office, there isn’t always a lot of time to do this well, but with these unique platforms, you can create content that keeps your social strategy fresh and engages your audiences in a way that goes beyond just photos or videos:

Meerkat or Periscope
These platforms burst onto the scene this year and brought instantaneous live streaming to the masses. No matter which one you choose to use, you can now go live from classrooms, from graduation, from an open house or from a sporting event without needing a full camera crew or big production. You could open up classrooms for a tour or to showcase students working at any time for parent engagement. Think about promoting the “Live Stream of the Month” and promoting it through your e-newsletter, website or other traditional channel.

Learn more about Meerkat or Periscope.

Canva is a great platform to create social content graphics. You can easily create infographics, posters, Instagram graphics, blog graphics, social media headers and much more without requiring the skill of a graphic designer. This is amazing for those of us operating in one-person shops. Social content is more engaging if it is visual. Canva is way to constantly create graphic elements for social media without having to use a designer.

Learn more about Canva.

How can you use a streaming music service for engaging social content? Take a lesson out of Spotify’s playbook and create playlists for your various audiences. Is your football team vying for a state championship? Build a playlist full of inspiring songs (I’m thinking “Eye of the Tiger” or “We Are The Champions”). Maybe you want to create a playlist to highlight the end of the school year (Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road”, anyone?) or the beginning of summer vacation or to help students study for a standardized test (and there are plenty of those!). This requires creativity, but these playlists can be embedded on a blog or website, shared on your social channels or included in e-newsletter content.

Snapchat offers new ways for schools to market to students

When Snapchat first arrived on the scene, there were several districts in Ohio that sent letters home to parents warning of the dangers of this mobile platform. Rightfully so, since it offered teens a way to send photos and videos to their peers (or strangers) and have them disappear in seconds (unless they were screenshot by the person on the other end). The dangers of that were real, and for a school district, Snapchat quickly earned a reputation as more negative than positive.

Fast forward to 2015, and the possibilities of Snapchat as a tool for marketing have blossomed, especially as you attempt to reach younger audiences in middle school and high school. According to Business Insider (BI) Intelligence, Snapchat’s users are majority female between the ages of 13-25, and engagement is high on Snapchat, with 40% of 18-year-olds using it multiple times daily. Also, sharing increased 100% once Snapchat Stories (see video below) were introduced, with 1 billion views daily for stories and 760 million disappearing photos and videos sent daily. Per BI Intelligence, “Brands stand to gain a lasting advantage from adopting emerging social media early.” Why not give it a shot?

Here are three ways to consider using Snapchat as part of your social toolbox:

Pure Storytelling
When my school district was ready to host our Sophomore Tour Day as part of our recruitment activities, we offered up a behind-the-scenes preview and tour of the preparations for the big event by using a Snapchat Story, a 24-hour narrative with your clips. We experimented with this and found some moderate success in students being interested in following along as we added video clips and photos (with drawings and emojis added, too) of our teachers and students getting ready to host 1,000 sophomores the next day.

Storytelling is certainly the biggest advantage to using Snapchat to reach this desired audience. You can host tours, communicate messages or run specific campaigns, such as anti-bullying messages or public service announcements. The key to these stories is they disappear within 24 hours, so they become something you market across multiple platforms to create a sense of urgency or exclusivity.

Recruiting & Advertising
If your district recruits students or needs to advertise events or campaigns to this target audience, Snapchat becomes a powerful tool, because it is so personal and so immediate. Want students to buy tickets for an athletic event, a fundraiser or a theater production? Want to direct students to do something with immediacy or communicate a call-to-action to this demographic? Snapchat can be used to remind students about everything from events and activities to delivering special messages to prospective students. Later this year, my district will use Snapchat to welcome incoming students a week after they receive their acceptance package in the mail promoting our Snapchat account (cross-platform promotion). This personalized touch is just one way we are experimenting with the uniqueness of the platform.

Want students to be engaged in your school? Snapchat provides the perfect platform to communicate with them and involve them. From scavenger hunts to giveaways, you can engage students in fun ways by “speaking their language” via Snapchat, which is proving itself much more powerful with this demographic than the fading Facebook or Twitter.

Want to see how brands and colleges are using Snapchat? Check out these accounts on Snapchat:

  • University of Michigan (UofMichigan)
  • West Virginia University (WestVirginiaU)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College (TWC_Snaps)
  • University of Kansas (jayhawks)
  • Taco Bell
  • Mashable
  • General Electric

Check out more brands using Snapchat.

Three reasons you should be using Vine

While many prefer Instagram because of all of the nifty things you can do with it (clip editing, drafts, filters) and the extended time of the videos (15 seconds versus six for Vine), there is definite potential with Vine in your visual storytelling efforts on social media.

Here are three clear-cut reasons why you should consider Vine as a tool in your social media toolbox:

For Brevity
First off, it’s not like 15 seconds is that much longer, so let’s get over worrying too much about six seconds versus the 15 Instagram offers. But those working in K-12 education marketing are typically small shops, depending on the size of the district, and their roles span across the various tasks of marketing. Needless to say, I can already hear the groans from school marketers everywhere screaming “Not another thing to do!!” So, while a nine-second difference isn’t all that important, it is something. Vine also doesn’t have all the bells and whistles Instagram does. No need to complicate the process. Make your videos creative and interesting, but don’t get caught up on filters, editing and drafts.

For Visual Stories
Vine provides a nice, quick alternative to showcasing district stories through elements other than photos or long form videos. Vine is a quick way to live tweet graduation ceremonies, live tweet student or staff introductions, take people on tours of your facility, or showcase various projects around the school. There are so many exciting and unique ways to use Vine. Think of it as a storytelling tool that contributes to the chapters of your district’s annual novel.

As An Extension
Lastly, and most importantly, I would argue that Vine should be thought of as an extension of Twitter. One, Vine is the brainchild of Twitter, so the integration and sharing are seamless. Vines are easily sharable on Twitter, can be watched directly on Twitter (which doesn’t happen with Instagram videos or photos), and you can grab embed codes straight from your Vines and share them on other channels like blogs or even your website (yes, I know you can embed with Instagram too, but not from Twitter). If you are a district that has invested in Twitter as a communications platform (and you should), Vine is a must-have extension.