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School Social Media: Best Practices vs. Trends

School social media is one of the most important communication tools. However, with new social media trends developing daily, even the most effective communications teams can struggle to establish and execute a coherent communications strategy. As trends come and go, a few fundamental strategies will be your key to ongoing engagement and success.

Keep it conversational

Your district brand is primarily reflected in your voice and tone on social media. Every time you write social content, read it out loud to yourself. If it isn’t the way you’d speak to someone in a casual conversation, keep at it and revise. Seek to create a relatable district voice on social media, whether fun, inspiring or playful.

Let your graphics be heard

The text of your post isn’t the only thing that matters. As attention spans get shorter, content that quickly sparks a viewer’s interest is key. Eye-catching graphics are your opportunity to do that! They’re also a great way to brand your social media content using different brand elements. Ideas of graphic design elements to use beyond your logo are patterns and accent colors from your palette. 

As you create eye-catching graphics, pay attention to the correct image sizes to make sure your post engages across different feeds. Hootsuite compiled a cheat sheet for social media image sizes for 2021. Take a look at the sizes for common platforms, and make sure your designs are being seen the way you intended. It’s wise to also learn about accessibility issues for social media content. For example, minimizing the use of text overlays on images and always adding alt text are two simple ways to increase accessibility — an excellent practice to engage all users better.

Streamline your social media management

Managing social media can be fun — and it can easily begin to consume all your time. Check out our blog on Facebook Business Manager to help streamline your social media management. For example, you can assign page access to multiple users and easily coordinate marketing and advertising activities. 

Editorial calendars are another tool that help content creators take control of each day. Strategically planning your content is beneficial for any school communications pro, whether you’re in a big school system or a small private school. Visually understanding your social media posts across all your digital channels makes it easier to reach your objectives and implement your overall strategy.

You can also use an editorial calendar to articulate clear content goals for your page. For example, a goal might be to celebrate kids and learning. Setting an expectation for “kid-friendly” and “positive” posts will reduce negative comments.

Create a consistent feature on your channels

Look for an effective and engaging source of consistent content to feature on your channels. This can be a weekly #ThrowbackThursday, or something unique to your district, such as Cotter Schools #WeAreCotter and Princeton Public Schools #477PrincetonProud. 

Pay attention to the events happening around you

No matter how far out you plan your school social media content, some external events require social media managers to quickly adjust to avoid coming off as tone-deaf or dismissive. Make a practice of pausing all scheduled content when something in your community or the world becomes your audience’s focus. Then, based on your evaluation of the situation, you can publish your posts at more appropriate or sensitive times by temporarily switching to manual posting. As the situation plays out, remain transparent in your communications. Open the lines of trust between your district and your community to create strong relationships.

Be prepared for not-so favorable comments

Every school communicator dreams of comments filled with positivity and smile emojis. But the reality is, there will occasionally be a comment that is negative, argumentative or shares false information. Before you respond, remember all the eyes that are on your social media channel. Positive or negative customer service should be your priority for comments on your post. Consider each comment on a case-by-case basis to determine if a response is needed, or if monitoring is the smart way to go. 

Read Responding & Managing Facebook Comments for more best practices. 

Tips that apply across all platforms

Owner of #SocialSchools4EDU, Andrea Gribble gives quick tips that schools can use across all platforms: 

  • Use your school logo as the profile photo for official school accounts only. Using it for classroom, organization or personal accounts can create confusion.
  • Include a cover photo that showcases pictures of students that show diversity and multiple grade levels. Bonus – use your brand colors for an extra pop!
  • Create a school or district-wide hashtag, and use it in every post.

Find more tips from #SocialSchool4Edu

Keep people at the center of social media

The emotional connection that audiences feel to your content will drive the engagement on your posts. Consider setting up a socialmedia@yourschool email, and invite staff and parents to submit photos with a description of the picture they took. Not only is this a valuable source of content, but crowdsourced posts give your audiences an inside look at the learning and fun in your classrooms and activities. Be sure to provide your staff team with clear guidelines about opt-in or opt-out photo policies. 

Social media is a powerful tool for school communications pros. Use the tools available to make your social media work for you, and showcase the best of your district. Need a hand figuring out your channels? Give us a call!

Published on: August 4, 2021