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Personal Branding on Social Media

Personal Branding on Social Media: leadership and building community in this technology age from Allerton Hill Consulting

March 8, 2016

We’ve talked about WHY leaders need to develop a personal brand and overall STRATEGIES. This 3rd and final article of our personal branding series will focus on the specifics on how to easily build your personal brand on social media.

We’ve said it time and time again, both on the blog and to our clients on a daily basis — as a leader in today’s technology-connected society, social media is a must. While daunting at first — which networks should I join? how much time will it take? how much personal information should I share? — social media is the most efficient, economical and egalitarian way to share information and to consistently reinforce your brand as a leader.

At Allerton Hill, we always advise clients to use Twitter. It is mobile-friendly, easy and displays results in real time which means you are reaching your community now.  Beyond Twitter, join the networks that your community is using. Are all of your students & parents on Instagram? You should be, too! Ask around and sign up but be realistic about how much time you can commit to updating multiple networks. It’s better to do one and do it well rather than spread yourself to thin and never post updates.

On any network you join, create a strong public profile so that users can find you easily. Use a clear photo of yourself — but not necessarily your official photo. Write a brief profile that includes your title as well as a few tidbits about yourself that help to make you accessible and makes it clear that this is your personal account.

Once you have a profile, what should you be sharing as the superintendent or other public leader of a school?

Share school news including upcoming events, post photos of yourself at past events and make note of achievements by your students and staff. Repost notices from your school’s official accounts.

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Ask for feedback. Do you have a new policy in place? Are you considering one? Ask for input from your followers AND respond to any replies or direct messages you receive.201603-personalbrandonsm-tweet02

 

Be yourself. The best way to encourage honesty and engagement is to share your personality. Mix in tweets about your favorite hobbies, local pastimes and your opinions on “pressing matters” of the day such as sports teams, the Oscars and the weather.201603-personalbrandonsm-tweet03

 

Use photos whenever possible/appropriate. Photos stand out and encourage more engagement.

Use your school’s official hashtag to ensure your posts show up in searches.

It should go without saying, that your opinion on controversial subjects including politics and religion should not be included in your Twitter feed. But just in case, we’ll say it again: your opinion on controversial subjects including politics and religion should not be included in your Twitter (or Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook…) feed.

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AHC on Social Media, Part 3: #Hashtags101

August 28, 2015

Organically developed on Twitter by its first power users, hashtags are now a ubiquitous tool on social media. They still have dominance on Twitter but are also used on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and many other networks. Hashtags are, most simply, a way for people to connect and search for tweets (or posts or pins…) that share a common topic. By instantly linking social media posts together, hashtags have helped fuel (and organize!) social media’s ability to disseminate breaking news with great efficiency, efficacy and engagement than ever before

The hashtag is a powerful and critical social media tool that should be a part of your strategy across all platforms. Proper use of branded and keyword tags will grow your community and your schools’ brand recognition.

The Basics

1. Although you can use multiple words, hashtags do not allow for spaces or punctuation.

Any easy way to make multiple word hashtags more readable is to capitalize each word such as #AllertonHillConsulting. Hashtags are not case sensitive so tags that are or are not capitalized will be included in the same search.

2. Hashtags can occur anywhere in your message – in context or as an addendum to your message.

Don’t forget tonight’s #MHSchoir concert in the Seewald Auditorium!

Sign up today to volunteer at our fall carnival. #helpwanted #MHSpride

3. Hashtags should be obvious, easy to remember and hard to misspell. This included watching out for adjoining ambiguous characters or using hashtags that are so similar to large brands that they will cause confusion and/or misdirection.

 

Hashtags 101 by Allerton Hill Consulting

How Are Hashtags Used?

1. Highlighting keywords for context and search results.

Connect with people who share your interests and who are invested in what you have to say. # to mark the word/phrase that is most important to your tweet/pin/post and when others click on it, they will be taken to a results page that shows other posts that have been hashtagged with the same term — and vice versa!

Think about the words that you want your community to use to find you — these are words that you will probably already be using in your social media. Hashtag these important terms to highlight and increase their impact.

2. Identify your brand – and help others align with you

You should create a hashtag that is applied to all official tweets to reflect your school’s brand. Typically initials or a school mascot/identity works best. Followers will take note and also use this hashtag when writing about events and issues important to your community.

#MHSpride #OPSpanthers #ParkwoodHS

You can also use this concept to create subgroups on your Twitter feed such as #MHSchoir or #igersohio (Ohio Instagrammers) to denote particular topics of interest within your district’s overall brand.

3. Promote Campaigns and Events, LiveTweet Events & Host TwitterChats

Taking hashtag-branding one step further, encourage the use of a particular hashtag to tie together tweets/photos/pins/posts that cover one particular event – #MHSBacktoSchoolPicnic – or that contribute to a crowdsourced campaign such as #MHSsummerphotos.

You can also livetweet an event by tying all posts together with a unique hashtag such as “#Parkwoodrelay4life”.

Superintendents should host monthly TwitterChats using a hashtag such as #AskDrSoandSo to field and answer questions from parents and community members.

4. Parenthetical Interjections

We really encourage schools to use social media to help humanize their staff and create emotional connections with their community. Using hashtags for their most casual purpose – asides and humor – can be tricky and takes nuance but also can help you get noticed in the onslaught of newsfeed posts. You can also participate in social meme conventions such as Throwback Thursday (#tbt) or create your own aside hashtags such as #gamefaceon or #FridayTreat or #PantherBookClub that can grow into regular “features” in your social media.

Best Practices

Find Your Hashtag Sweet Spot

Tweets that have 2-4 relevant hashtags yield 24% more engagement than tweets with no hashtags and 13% more engagement than tweets with 5+ hashtags. Moderation is key – hashtag to create context but don’t overfill your tweet with #hashtags or your #followers #will #stop #reading #or #worse #unfollow #you.

Don’t Spam Popular Hashtags

Just because a hashtag is trending doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon for exposure. Only use relevant hashtags – and check out the context for a trending hashtag before using it. Many gaffes have been made by major brands who use a trending tag only to realize later that it was trending due to negative reasons such as a crime or natural disaster. Using non-relevant hashtags is one of the quickest ways to turn off and lose followers.

Double Check Your # for #Hidden #Meanings

If you are planning to use a hashtag to brand your district or an event/campaign, test it out first to see if there are any hidden or double meanings that could be offensive or confusing.

Follow Leaders in Your Industry

Learn by participating. Take note of the hashtags that other educational and communication leaders are using and incorporate them into your own posts.

Don’t Make Your Hashtag Too Broad to Track

Using the hashtag #school might seem obvious but it also is such a general term that it ends up being useless in monitoring engagement or garnering new followers. Focus on making hashtags unique and easy to remember.

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AHC on Social Media, Part 2: What Goes Where?

August 21, 2015

There are over 80 social networks with over 1 million users and at least 10 social networks with over 50 million users!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to recommend that you use them all! A large majority of these site have specific audiences in mind such as travel, parenting, photography or connecting with friends during a health crisis.

For schools, we highly recommend focusing your efforts on the general social media networks that many people in your community are already using, ensuring that you will reach your target audience without asking them to sign up for another social service. These sites include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. YouTube is also a powerful platfrom for connecting with you users – especially with its sharing capabilities across other social media networks. We also highly recommend that you use LinkedIn for professional networking with other education and communications professionals.

Monthly Social Media Usage Statistics from Allerton Hill Consultants

 

Facebook

Hubspot, a leading media website, reports that 93% of all adult users online are on Facebook. You should be using Facebook daily if only because it is going to get your message in front of the most people. Beyond the benefits of saturation, however, keep in mind that Facebook offers great flexibility in what and how you share information, providing you with more opportunities to engage with your community.

Facebook should not only be a means of dispersing information but also a way to add an emotional connection to your calls-to-action using photos & video and by communicating directly with your community in the comments section.

A few notes on Facebook usage statistics:

  • Posts with photos have a 83% great chance of being shared or commented on.
  • Posts with 250 characters or less have a 91% higher engagement rate.
  • 65% of all Facebook engagement occurs between Wednesday and Friday so plan your important posts accordingly.

Twitter

As the internet becomes more and more mobile, Twitter is becoming the go-to social media platform. It’s 140-character limit and mobile-optimized interface makes engagement quick and easy. We recommend having both an official district Twitter account as well as an account maintained by your Superintendent to help humanize your administration and promote strong community recognition and interaction.

Half of Twitter’s 650 million users are on the site more than once a day, with 29% using it 3+ times a day, each time for more than 15 minutes. And remember that over 60% of those users are on mobile devices – keep your tweets on message and make sure any links you use are mobile-friendly by using link shorteners and ensuring that any page you link to is mobile-optimized.

While Facebook, Pinterest and Google + are all good options for finding new partners and resources within your community, Twitter is known for its strong ability for growing loyalty among its base members. Make sure you are talking to this audience – your parents, students and valued community partners – when composing your messages.

# Hashtags (to be covered in depth in a future post in this series) are a vital part of your Twitter strategy to ensure your tweets are reaching your target audience and to create cohesion in your communications.

Google+

While Google + often doesn’t get the airtime that Facebook & Twitter does in social media conversations, it has seen a 33% growth in the past year and now boasts 300 million users. By organizing your contacts into “circles” you can target your Google+ messages to targeted audience members, sharing school lunch menus and upcoming sporting events with parents while posting notices about budget meetings, community-wide events and important issues to a larger community-partner circle.

Google+ is integrated with Google’s powerful search engine and its suite of apps. This has helped to jumpstart the social media platform’s popularity and make it easier to use in tandem with Google Hangouts, Gmail, YouTube (a Google acquisition) and even Google Maps. Take advantage of these integrations to make posting easier and to also encourage interaction.

Instagram

As a visual app that is incredibly easy to use, it’s no surprise that Instagram is a huge hit across demographics. Instagram is a fantastic way to add depth and heart to your key themes. Featuring photos of students in action, successful community events and teacher profiles will humanize your district’s mission and help make your calls-to-action more vital.

Pinterest

This might seem like a weird fit for a school district – and we will explore exactly how we suggest you use Pinterest at a later date. But for now, consider how every image or “pin” actually links to somewhere else on the internet. This means that you can easily use Pinterest as a visual hub for linking to your website, Twitter feed, YouTube videos and other important content.

It is also a great place to engage with users to get them excited about back to school, community events, holidays and fundraising campaigns through the use of themed boards that provide inspiration, links to important information and yet another easy way for your community to help share the information throughout their own networks.

YouTube

Videos are a great way to break up any social media feed and generate more interest and engagement. Short 30 second videos that emphasize core messages are far more powerful & effective than the same information written out. Videos that highlight student academic achievement as well as of school plays & concerts, sporting events and community service initiatives will show taxpayers their money at work and inspire further support when needed in the future.

Share your YouTube videos across all platforms – and share them often! Follow up and share an important message video with an “ICYMI” (“in case you missed it”) tagline to help emphasize the video’s importance. Re-post a video from last year’s choir concert to get students excited about this year’s auditions.

 

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Allerton Hill Consulting can help your school district create a comprehensive communications plan that finds a balanced strategy between traditional and new (social) media. Our communication plans include real world examples and editorial calendars that apply directly to your demographics and current communications issues. For more information, contact us via email – inquire@allerton-hill.com – or call 800-549-2285.

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