Monday, October 6, 2014

Social Media Tips for Schools

In my district I've used social media on a daily basis for years. I compiled a list of the best tips I've learned and advice I've been given so maybe others will be able to get up to speed much faster than I did.  
Pick a short username. Seems obvious now, but when I was first starting I wanted to use all sorts of stuff. You want a username that won’t use up a lot of characters (Twitter only gives 140). If it’s over 13 characters, then pick a new one.
Customize your look. Taking a few extra minutes to upload a cover image and avatar can lend you heaps of credibility. Also your background and cover photos are great ways to share content! You can include mentions of upcoming events, dates, contact info, etc. There's highly valuable real estate located at the top of your profile!
Mix it up! Don’t only tweet or post about your school! Engage with users, congratulate them on successes, comment on local events and activities.
Connect! Be a part of the community. Follow, retweet, share, mention, thank, and converse with followers and users in your local community.
Be a follower. Keep up with what is going on in education and with schools in your area, around the state and the country. It will help you understand what is happening in the field and how you can help your community/district adapt and grow.
Post regularly. Multiple times per week, daily is better, multiple per day is great. Make sure you include original content often. Don't just retweet and NEVER auto-retweet!! Auto-retweeting makes their mistake YOUR mistake.
Respond. When people ask a question or make a comment on Facebook this may be their first actual interaction with your district! So respond and answer. If you need to look something up or refer them to another person, say so, but let them know you heard them and you appreciate their input. You will quickly turn folks into fans!
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
Tag photos. Post a funny or interesting photo and invite users to tag their friends in it. Maybe a photo of some students at field day or giggling at recess with the caption “Remember swing set races? Tag a friend who raced with you.” Or maybe a photo of the cheerleaders on gameday with “Tag a friend who’s ready to cheer for the Tigers!” This invites conversation and connects you with fun memories and emotions in their minds. Plus, it helps spread your photo organically through Facebook feeds! Also, posts (and tweets) with a photo are much more likely to be shared and read!
Be relatable. Pull back the curtain a little and show things that go on in the day-to-day. Let people see what your district does to educate students, especially the people who are not in the classroom!
Use Hashtags. And not just on Twitter. Instagram and Facebook both recognize hashtags now. It won’t be long before all social platforms do. It’s an easy way to highlight your content and connect with followers.
Avoid heated debate. Discussion is good for an on-line community, but when things get really heated it’s best to take it to another forum. An easy way to transition is to email the person and say something like “I see that you have a lot of concerns or questions about this topic. This may be a better way for us to communicate so that I can get you the information that you really need.”
 No politics or religion! Just stay out of it. You are acting as a spokesperson for your district, whether you like it or not. There’s no way you can accurately speak for everyone in your organization when it is a highly controversial topic. Don’t alienate your parents, community or employees by spouting off.
Reread your tweets and posts before you send them. And then read them one more time. You can’t take them back. Don't tweet/post anything you wouldn't say on camera. Twitter and Facebook are an open microphone 24/7. Also, probably best not to make it too easy to post from your phone or device. Make yourself have to log in before you post, so you don’t accidentally tweet something you only meant to text your spouse or co-worker.
Watch typos! Misspelling hurts your credibility (especially in education)! Shortening and abbreviating are ok, but watch which words you shorten. Removing just the right/wrong letter can COMPLETELY change your meaning.

Did I miss any? Are there ones that you've learned that you want to share? Let me know.
- Jas N
@jasnsmith on Twitter

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