Everyone is a storyteller!
And that includes your students. I think the #1 way to drive more engagement, which directly impacts the reach of your school’s social media content, is to get your students involved in your storytelling efforts.
Keep this in mind before you start:
- It’s not going to be perfect.
- You’re not going to have it all figured out, right away.
- Just start!
I recently asked school communicators in my membership program to share how they have used students in their social media efforts. In today’s blog, we’re going to get inspired by their success stories and learn how to implement these ideas at your own school! Let’s dig in.
Organize a Student Instagram Takeover
The individual will post photos and videos onto the school’s Instagram account – as Instagram Stories and/or Reels – from their personal point of view, not from the school’s perspective. This is a “direct reporter” type of role.
“We did our first Instagram student takeover for senior prom last year. It was awesome! The 12 stories she posted flew to the top of our 15 stories of the past two years! I’m definitely looking for opportunities to do this again.” – Jason Laz, Troy City School District, NY
“Our two student takeovers have been successful and our superintendent was impressed. 👍 The first one was when our choral group took a trip to Disney for a special training. The second was when one of our students was selected to go to Washington DC for the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment.” – Jodi Jones, South Summit School District, UT
“I did a student takeover for the middle school play. The student sent me the content, and I posted it. I am thinking about doing student takeovers for our eighth-grade trip to D.C.” – Elana Warren, Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, MN
“I allow student takeovers throughout the school year for Homecoming, performing arts, etc. I work with the teachers involved to pick the right students for the job. We all meet together and talk about goals, rules, and expectations. I turn their access off as soon as the event is completed. I have never had a problem.” – Melissa Hartley, Horizon Honors Schools, AZ
“We do student takeovers for drama (behind the scenes), choir tour, and prom. These result in great engagement on Instagram!” – Jen Bode, Arizona Lutheran Academy, AZ
“I’ve asked students in our high school video production class to do Instagram takeovers. I’ve had students produce sports highlights or other videos. I’m going to involve a student more this coming year in asking interview questions.” – Amy Murphy, Royal Oak Schools, MI
Ready to try it? Get a complete checklist for your Student Takeover in this blog:
Add Student Interns to Your Team
Starting a student intern program at your school has a ton of benefits. Not only are you bolstering your school’s social media presence, but you’re also giving valuable experience to student(s) at your school!
Look at this as a more formal approach to Instagram Takeovers. These students are trained and used for an entire semester or year – and with even more luck, multiple years!
“I have been working with students in different capacities for 4 years. They do it as part of an independent study. Some have had communications career plans; others have been video production kids. This coming year is my third year with one, and I think the best thing about working with students is they have fresh perspectives on what will resonate with the students! They push me to try new things. We use Class Intercom to make their content creation approval seamless.” – Julia Mitchell, Pinkerton Academy, NH
“I have an intern who creates content for me for most home games, our “bulletin board” TV (with announcements), videos, and more. Each year we have students who are willing to be teacher/staff aids. They give up their study hall each day and get class credit for this. For the past three years, I’ve recruited a student with an interest in graphic design.” – Jen Bode, Arizona Lutheran Academy, AZ
“I have at least two student interns each year. It’s a class for high school credit and I try to match with students who have already taken a graphic design class. I also look for students who want to commit to the class for two years. The first year is a lot of training about the brand rules, Canva, Photoshop, video production and editing, etc. I tend to give these students B or C-level priority projects so if they don’t get finished or don’t work out it’s not a big deal. If a student shows interest and talent, then I may give them direct social media access and allow them to post on my behalf at student-driven activities.” – Melissa Hartley, Horizon Honors Schools, AZ
Want to start a program like this at your school? Here’s where you can start!
One of my newest podcast episodes, “Elevating Your School’s Story with Social Media Student Interns”, features Ryan Foran, the Chief Communications Officer at Arcadia Unified School District in California. We talked about how they select the students, what training is provided, and the tasks their student interns are responsible for.
Listen here or wherever you subscribe to podcasts:
Partner with Classes or Clubs
Many high schools offer electives and clubs in journalism, yearbook, video production, photography, and/or media. Work with those teachers and advisors to integrate classroom projects and assignments into real-world output on your social media pages! The students will love to see their work published publicly, which gives them more confidence in their creative efforts in the future. Plus, your community will celebrate these unique stories.
“I am teaching a class this year called Digital Media at the high school and my students made this! It’s incredible 🤯 if you can utilize students to help with content. You can get a lot more cool stuff!” – Danica Newon, Valley Christian Schools, CA
“Our high school journalism class has been amazing. From student photographers covering games and school events to using a few students to work directly with me for big events, has been an awesome extension of my work. Grateful to have connected with the teacher!” – Jason Laz, Troy City School District, NY
“In May, our media class students created ‘highlight reels’ each focused on a specific part of the school year. I’ve been posting them all summer! Truthfully, the captions they wrote are not the highest quality. But if I point out that they are student-created, it’s highlighting their work and our media class in a positive way. Below is one of our highlight “reels” (students created them in Digital Media class using WeVideo in horizontal format).” – Jen Bode, Arizona Lutheran Academy, AZ
“I use our TV production and yearbook teams to help create content.” – Ronda Pounds, Ashdown Public Schools, AR
“Our senior high yearbook/photography students visit our buildings at least twice a year! They are able to practice their skills, have their teacher review their work, and see their photos on social media/in print!” – Sarah Kleppe, Sartell-St. Stephen ISD 748, MN
“Our high school has a video club and photography club and I work closely with the advisors of both of these clubs when they cover big events at the high school so I can utilize their student content on social media as well. I make a point to take photos/videos of the kids from the video club and photography club in action so I can make social media posts about the clubs and thank the kids for all their hard work. I will go meet with the drama kids before the fall drama/spring musical and ask them how they want to promote their plays on our social media channels.” – Lauren Reid, Rockville Centre School District, NY
Would you like to talk to more people about their experiences with classroom/club projects that turn into social media content?
Join my membership program! We have weekly live events and training sessions, plus a treasure trove of recorded resources dating back years. Inside the private Facebook group, school social media managers chat daily about what’s working / not working, troubleshooting problems, and getting quick answers to little questions that pop out throughout the day.
It’s your best shortcut for school social media success! Learn more in this video:
Conduct Interviews with Students
Another way to start posting more student stories, beyond having the students create those stories or content themselves, is to interview them.
“This summer, students shared photos and blog posts about their school-led summer trips. These posts were our highest reach of summer!” – Jen Bode, Arizona Lutheran Academy, AZ
“I created a series of reels promoting our spring musical – with students who were in the performance telling the audience why they thought people should come to the show – the students did a great job ad libbing (I gave them very little time to prepare!) and the engagement was awesome! We used them on Instagram and Facebook.” – Dawn Brauner, Portage Community School District, WI
Want to see this in action? Check out this blog that describes the easy “What I Learned This Week” social media feature:
I’m amazed at all the exciting ideas and content that are coming out of schools! Which of these methods is going to work best at your school? How are you already involving students in your storytelling? I’d love to hear from you – comment below!