In Telling the Story of Your School, I shared the idea that everyone plays a role in creating the mosaic that is the story of a school. This multimedia mosaic unfolds over time and in a variety of ways. Authenticity and transparent sharing is more vital than a strict, targeted social media strategy. Harnessing social media as a mechanism for sharing entails a certain amount of letting go of control. However, there are many ways you can be proactive in communicating a positive vision of what makes your school special and unique.
- Pay Attention! People talk. They share what they like and what they dislike. They share when asked, and they share when not asked. People share in the parking lot, at birthday parties and, increasingly, online. Of course, you can’t monitor every conversation, but you can make the effort to be informed. Some people will say things online that they will not say in person. Make sure you are listening! Set a Google Alert for your school and for yourself as a school professional. If you have a school Twitter account, it is important that someone monitors notifications and responds or acknowledges as appropriate.
- Toot Your Own Horn Self-promotion is great…in moderation. After all, if you don’t tell people about the awesome things happening at your school, who will? Sharing what makes you excited and proud is contagious in the best way. If you can inspire others to see and share the positive, that’s even better…But be careful not to become caught in the social media trap of all self-promotion, all the time.
- Thin the Walls If you spend lots of time at school, you see and experience all the amazing things happening there. Remember that not everyone sees what you do. Capture it AND share it! Let others view through your eyes and ears. When thinning the walls, get many points of view: have students and teachers be documentarians, asking them to share a day through their perspectives. Everyone sees things differently, and everyone sees different things. The more people you include, the more complete, interesting and beautiful your mosaic will be. (BONUS: People are generally more interested to take part and share more broadly when they or their children are personally involved).
- Create Content Creating and sharing original content is an excellent way to share your expertise and illuminate philosophical reasons behind professional decision-making. Many heads of schools blog regularly as a way to communicate with school stakeholders as well as establish their professional voice and build credibility. Who else from your school is writing articles, blogging and sharing original content? Don’t underestimate the value of this piece of the puzzle. Think about devising a content creation calendar and encouraging teachers to share their work in Jewish and non-Jewish educational publications.
- Curate Content It has been said that, in the digital age, you are what you share. What are your school’s core values? Learn to use apps, tools and other people to filter content of interest. Regularly sharing interesting and relevant content builds your brand. Adding your thoughts and reasons behind the sharing connects you to the content in people’s minds. You also provide value for your followers and become trusted as a curator of quality, interesting content on particular subjects.
- Share Your Work Often, we’re most comfortable sharing photos and videos of events, pictures of children smiling (of course!) and happy moments. It is less common for schools to actually share the real work of teaching and learning. For one thing, learning is messy! There is a sense that its better to display the end-result rather than the process of getting there. In Show Your Work Austin Kleon persuades artists (of all types) that highlighting the stages of creation increases interest in the final piece. Kleon suggests sending out “a daily dispatch, one little piece of your process that you can share.”
- Communicate Visually We live in a visual world. Social Media posts that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts (source). Visual communication is a vital 21st century literacy, and we must all learn basic design skills. Luckily, there are many affordable (and free) resources that make creating appealing visual content really easy. Check out Canva for an easy-to-use tool that will help add eye-candy to your social media posts. If this is really new for you, Canva offers free tutorials on the elements of graphic design. Piktochart is a free tool for creating infographics. Let go of “perfect” and trust your eyes to lead you to what looks good. Please also model good digital citizenship when using images created by others. It’s just too easy to take whatever we find online without properly asking, citing and/or compensating. To learn more, read Tips and Tools for Ethical Media Use.
- Be Short & Consistent Regular, short posts are preferable to one, long weekly or monthly update. People may not consume (or even see) everything you share, so if the news is important, share it more than once and via other communication channels than social media. Remember that everyone consumes information differently, and virtually everyone is inundated with too much information. For example, taking a newsletter and sharing pieces of the content in separate Facebook posts over the course of a few days, may help the information get noticed by people who choose not to read the newsletter in its full form.
- Have Fun! Social media is an important piece of communicating and building your school’s brand. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for experimentation and playfulness. Don’t overthink it. Social media is, above all, social. It’s ok to share humor and personality.