Getting your staff involved in telling your district’s stories on social media is crucial! Whether they’re running their own accounts with your approval, submitting content to you for posting, and/or encouraged to engage with school posts – there’s plenty that non-communications department staff members can do to amplify your school’s stories.
Today’s blog is inspired by a special training in our Social Media Membership program, run by the talented Erica Loiacono, who is the Director of Public Relations at Community Unit School District 200 (CUSD 200) near Chicago, IL.
A few years ago, Erica’s district had low community engagement. The board challenged its school leaders to find ways to demonstrate to the community that their investment in CUSD 200 was worthwhile.
So, Erica launched a social media campaign called “Telling Our Story, One Classroom at a Time.” The goal was to get as many staff members on-board with the campaign as possible. Erica sought to share more positive stories about what was happening at CUSD 200.
But instead of sending an email that would likely get buried in their inboxes, Erica put in targeted face time at each and every school building. She hosted Lunch ‘n Learn sessions to highlight the impact social media could make in achieving district goals, plus how individual staff members could get involved with these efforts. We’ve included direct quotes from Erica’s presentation, to inspire you!
Encouraging Attendance at a Lunch ‘n Learn
Erica advertised her Lunch ‘n Learns by hanging posters in staff work areas and having the building principals send out an invitation via email. These were optional sessions… but guess what she did to encourage good attendance?
She provided lunch, of course!
Never underestimate the power of free food.
In Erica’s case, the district’s new food service provider donated sandwiches and chips and her department provided water and cookies. Get creative with how you find food for these events – it doesn’t have to be expensive! A local business might be willing to make a donation, or perhaps you have Professional Development funding in the budget. You could even organize a potluck, where everyone brings a dish.
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What to Cover in a Lunch ‘n Learn
Erica started off her presentations with a brag session. She shared district rankings, test scores, positive parent reviews – anything that would build pride in the district.
“Clearly, your parents, your community is very proud and happy with the work that you are doing!”
With this foundation in place, Erica next covered the board’s initiative to increase community engagement. She explained how social media could play a big role in accomplishing this goal.
“When we use social media to tell our story, we are able to celebrate students and connect communities. We give our community a front row seat into our classrooms, and allow us to show the community just what we’re doing with their dollars.”
“When we use social media to tell our story, we are able to flatten our walls and give the community a view into our school.”
Now that she had made her case for social media, it was time to share some real-life stories. Erica simply captured screenshots of great social media posts, from the district, and showed them to staff members. She talked about why each post was successful, the kinds of stats it generated, and how they engaged people through likes, comments, and shares. Erica also reminded staff how these posts highlighted the student-centered mission of CUSD 200.
“When we use social media to tell our story, we are able to showcase our student-centered schools. Every single day, every interaction that you have with the child, every single decision that you make, you put kids at the heart of all of those decisions. Social media allows us to demonstrate to the community just how important our kids are and how we put them front and center of every single thing that we do.”
Erica even shared a personal story about how she knew more about what was happening in her son’s classroom thanks to the pictures his teacher submitted for social media!
“For a lot of our families, it might be difficult depending on their circumstance to stay connected and stay engaged at school. Social media crosses all socioeconomic barriers. But you guys are where it starts. Parents just want to see a little bit more of what that education actually looks like, so that they can connect with their child!”
With staff bought into the idea of how social media could create more connections with families and community members, it was now time to ask for their help. In Erica’s case, she shared three ways that CUSD 200 staff members could help tell the district’s stories:
- Like, comment, and share school social media posts. Give examples of how your own district’s posts performed better thanks to engagement. This blog covers the basic “point system” for how the social media algorithms prioritize engagement.
- Submit social media content. Walk through the process you have in place for receiving content from your staff members. The simpler, the better! This blog explains a tried-in-true method.
- Run their own social media account. If your district allows staff to run their own profiles, briefly cover your policies and share examples of successful accounts. This blog shows you how to set-up a successful system for staff to have their own accounts.
At this point in the presentation, Erica had her listeners bought in and ready to help. To further support her colleagues, Erica handed out printed versions of #SocialSchool4EDU PDF guides. She also emphasized how some of the simplest stories could be the most effective.
We have over 25 helpful guides to social media for schools created and ready for you to download from our website – all for FREE! Check out the resource guides for yourself here.
“You don’t need so create some massive, super sparkly project and only post pictures of that. It’s literally pictures of the day-to-day stuff that you do. People just want to see their kids.”
Finally, don’t forget to have everyone in the room “follow” all the school accounts – and the school hashtag – before leaving the room.
More Helpful Resources
We have tons more resources to help you empower your colleagues this school year! Here are some helpful related resources:
- Back to School – Checklist for Getting Staff Involved in Social Media
- How to Get New Staff Involved with Social Media
- How to Find Student Stories Your Community Will Love!
- Dos and Don’ts for School Staff Running Their Own Social Media Pages
- Social Media is Like a Free Puppy – Not a Free Beer
Make it a fantastic year!
And if you want to tell me about how you’re making it a fantastic year, tag me in a tweet! You can find me @andreagribble.