Love it or hate it, social media is everywhere. Almost everyone uses it, and although it has some negative aspects, when used with a positive purpose, it’s one of the best ways to connect and spread information. As a school leader, you might feel hesitant to jump on board. But doing so could be really beneficial for your school community. We touched base with schools who use social media effectively. Here are their top five tips and examples for great school social media posts:
1. Notify families about upcoming school programs.
Chad R. MacDonald, who serves on the PTA for PS 51 in Manhattan and helps run their social media, says that sharing upcoming school events has boosted attendance significantly.
“We recently had a multicultural potluck dinner and a parent night out Halloween bash,” says MacDonald. “In both instances, the events were heavily promoted on social media, and it was helpful for boosting attendance.”
The school primarily uses the school’s Facebook page to promote events, but events are also shared in private Facebook groups that serve the school’s local community.
This fun Facebook post showcased a family dance PS 51 held.
2. Share special moments.
Social media is a wonderful way to share the day-to-day life of a school—and to give current parents or prospective parents an idea of what’s happening.
“We view social media as a critical tool in our communications strategy,” says Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, head of school at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland.
The school uses several social media channels—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube—to share the many special moments happening within the walls of their school. They also have a private Facebook group for parent questions.
“Whether it’s current or prospective students and families, potential employees, or community partners, social media enables us to take the roof off of the school through video, photo, audio, and more,” says Malkus.
We love this spotlight post highlighting staff families may never meet otherwise.
Essivi "Chantal" Messan, Lower School Food Services Department Staff Member, is featured as the newest Staff Spotlight: https://t.co/ng3nRWjYyd pic.twitter.com/N368GKwPdK
— CESJDS (@CESJDSCONNECT) November 19, 2019
3. Inform families about upcoming community events.
It’s not just school events you can promote: Sharing other community happenings is a great way to make parents feel connected to their local community. And if you share events from other venues, they are likely to share your events as well.
“We don’t just post about the school,” says MacDonald. “For example, it’s the weekend before Halloween, and later today I will post a reminder about Halloween parties available to children today and will do the same again in the morning for tomorrow’s events and again for Sunday.”
4. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Social media posts that include pictures, graphics, and videos tend to increase engagement.
Lauren B. Stevens, director of development at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Pennsylvania, says that her school frequently uses images to share school events, classroom activities, and student achievements. “The images are typically taken by staff or parents with their cell phones and then forwarded to our principal or development director for use on social platforms,” says Stevens.
Susan R. Mareck, principal at St. John the Baptist Catholic School, says that posting these images has been invaluable for increasing communication with families.
“It has allowed us to publish our student’s achievements,” she says. “The families can see what other grade levels are doing, how they are succeeding, and what extracurricular activities may be of interest for their children in future years, like the 3-D printing club or science explorers, to name a few.”
5. Post frequently and include links.
Everyone agreed that posting frequently, adding images, and sharing links to relevant media articles were vital to keeping engagement high. “We regularly post articles and content from credible sources if they are relevant to our parent body,” says MacDonald.
It can also be helpful to keep a social media calendar to ensure you are keeping up with current and upcoming events. However, as Stevens points out, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t use a calendar. “I don’t have the time to create an editorial calendar for social media, but I do try to make sure that we’re posting regularly,” she shares.
Making time for social media might sound daunting at first, but keep in mind that most principals and school leaders don’t go it alone. With most platforms, more than one person is able to post, so it can truly be a group effort here.
For inspiration, check out the social media pages of the schools we featured:
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
St. John the Baptist Catholic School
How do you use social media to communicate? Share with us in our Principal Life Facebook group.
Plus, The Principal’s Guide to Handling Social Media Disasters