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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org – or call 800-549-2285.