Nearly every communicator in the country will tell you that you need a social media presence. While they’re technically not wrong, throwing a barrage of social media posts at your audience is not the answer.
A wise digital media strategist once spoke to a college class of mine and left us with some words I haven’t forgotten. “Don’t post your life on rented space.” She was talking about social media and how, really, we are at the mercy of the companies in control of the platform.
What’s the fix, you might ask?
Don’t post your life on rented space.
It’s probably time for a confession; I hate social media. A teacher once called it “a breeding ground of hate” from a personal perspective. From a professional perspective, the trends change so fast that you’re constantly chasing your tail to keep up with the Jones’. If you drink the Kool-aid, that’s about all you get done. Plus, if that’s what you’re doing, then you aren’t focusing on your audience and your stories.
Content is King: Start with your story
First things first. Start with a story. If you don’t have a good story, you’re putting lipstick on a pig. Stop it. Put on your writing hat, think like a journalist and come up with a meaningful story to share with your audience.
So how exactly am I supposed to do it?
I hate repetitive tasks. Posting over here then posting over there is like pulling teeth, and it drives me nuts. So, after I have my story, I post it on the website. I grew up learning WordPress and run it on every website I work with. Once the story is on the website with associated assets (featured image, etc.) I step back and let the magic happen. Ryan showed me WP to Buffer – a WordPress Plugin that feeds your Buffer queue which of course automatically schedules the content.
Teaching the person to fish
When I was hired, our Superintendent told me that he wanted me to be replaceable. It was tongue and cheek and I haven’t ever let him live it down, but he has a good point. Rather than have the death grip on control of the district’s communication, he wanted me to teach people to fish. So, that’s what I do.
I highly recommend using a family engagement platform like ParentSquare. A direct pipeline to your entire audience is incredibly powerful. The message for us starts there. We have delivered professional development on news writing, photography, and posting to our family engagement platform (FEP). From the FEP, I can share content directly to our website with RSS. For those playing the take-home game, you’ve probably guessed it, but WP to Buffer picks up the content and queues it to be posted on social media.
What about side-pages for groups, organizations and departments?
Again, they should start with the family engagement platform. If something like a student organization (athletics, FFA, music, etc.) where public posts may be a requirement, exceptions to the rule can be made. Be sure that communicators have a firm grasp on communication procedures.
Groups in our district must apply for a social media presence and justify it. When deciding on an application, consider the audience the page already has.
If you’re allowing a page to remain, make sure you have access to the account AND the recovery information. The worst-case scenario is someone has unfettered access to communicate on behalf of your brand.
Things to keep in mind when planning for school public communication
- Public Records
- Comments – Find a list of common words and block them in the comments. Comments will be hidden. Virtually eliminating the comment problem.
- Neglecting your website – Be sure to post to your website too!
- What do messages from departments and organizations inadvertently say about your brand?
Tips for Success
- Consider your audience
- Start with a minimum viable product.
- Use a social media manager. I prefer Buffer.
Thanks to Ryan Collins for allowing me to guest-write this piece for eduk8.me!