The awards shows that happen in Hollywood have NOTHING on the annual “Best of” Social Media Awards that are delivered on School Communicators Day each May… And now – the award itself even has a name!
Today, you are going to meet the 20 winners of the “Golden Gribble” awards. That’s right, after asking #SchoolPR friends across the country for help naming the awards, the overwhelming majority suggested this name. (I hope you know me well enough to realize that I didn’t suggest the name. But when so many got excited about it – I couldn’t say no!)
Sad you missed the chance to enter the 2023 awards contest? We are too! We make a call each February for self-nominations. Sign up for our free newsletter so you don’t miss your shot!
This is the third annual contest! Here are just a few fun facts:
- 273 Submissions (199 in 2022)
- 133 different people (98 in 2022)
- 33 states (31 in 2022)
- 2 countries (US and Oman)
- 2023 – 20 awards
- 2022 – 15 awards
- 2021 – 12 awards
- 12 different states represent the 2023 winners
- 6 repeat winners
- 14 new winners
The great thing about this awards show is that with each winner, you’ll learn exactly why they stood out. After reviewing this list, I can guarantee that you’ll be bursting with new ideas that you can try next school year!
🏆 KISS Award – Ashdown Public Schools, AR – Ronda Pounds
KISS stands for Keep it Simple, Sweetie! I know many of you may know it as something else, but you are talking to the queen of positivity here. We are not going to insult anyone!!
Wow – who knew that teaching kids how to change oil would go viral! Ashdown Public School‘s High School of Innovation has implemented “Real World Monday.” On this specific day, the lesson reached more than 189,000 people with more than 1,900 comments.
🏆 KISS Award – Royal Oak Schools, MI – Amy Murphy
If you’ve seen one of my webinars or attended one of my live speaking events, you’ll know that I like to challenge social media managers to ask simple questions on Facebook using the colored backgrounds Facebook provides. Amy, from Royal Oak Schools, shows us just how well it can work with this post. She asked a straightforward question, “What was the name of your 5th grade teacher?”
The post had over 1,500 comments and reached nearly 20,000 people! This type of post is important for three reasons:
- Gets followers in the habit of commenting
- Boosts algorithm for other posts
- Builds great conversations in the thread!
Want 52 ideas for questions you can ask on your page? Check out this helpful article.
Want to learn even more from these winning submissions? Andrea recorded the awards ceremony and you can watch it now for free – grab it here!
🏆 Power of Social Media Award – Genoa-Kingston CUSD #424, IL – Linze Rice
When a letterman’s jacket was found while shopping in Spain, it led the buyer to contact the school. Originally, Linze thought it was a bot contacting her. But it was legit!
- Over 10,000 people reached with this post!!! (Genoa-Kingston‘s population is 5,300)
- 1,480 clicks to the blog article
- The owner still doesn’t know how it ended up overseas!
🏆 Inclusion Award – Hudsonville Public Schools, MI – Stephanie Fast
Oh boy – try to watch this one without tearing up. Hudsonville Public Schools happens to be a repeat winner. They were awarded the Spreading Kindness Award in 2021. This year, they were selected for this video showcasing the Eagle Claw Percussion Ensemble. This was the group’s first-ever game performance!
This post is the best-performing post in the history of the Facebook account. It had a whopping 396 shares and more than 100 comments. Woohoo!
🏆 Staff Highlight Award – Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, TX – GCISD Communications
The “Stars of GCISD” program launched in the 2022/2023 school year. Staff, students, parents, and community members can submit nominations.
While all nominees are celebrated, one winner is selected each month that receives gifts from community sponsors. So far, more than 200 employees have been recognized! This program boosts morale and celebrates the positive work of the people at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. To check out the Stars of GCISD Youtube playlist, click here.
🏆 Instagram Idol Award – Dancing Moose Montessori School, UT – Elizabeth Cribbs & Sarah Adams
Your Instagram highlights are the elevator pitch for your account. They help first-time visitors get a feel for your school and understand your priorities.
This account won for several reasons, including:
- Aesthetic – colors are the official pallet of the school colors
- Functionality – hashtags to relate posts to highlights
- Organization – cleaned out old highlights (it’s worth it!)
This account also had a Reel that reached more than 17,000 people, and the page only has 1,600 followers. You’ll see that the Reels are organized and visually appealing, and the account manager uses the “pin” feature to pin the best Reels to the top of the feed.
Dancing Moose Montessori School is a repeat winner of this very same award – way to go!
🏆 Awesome Alumni Award – Fairfax County Public Schools, VA – Jordan Mason
In honor of Black History Month, this district highlighted two notable Class of 2016 alumni. One is an Olympic gold medalist and the other is an actress on an HBO series!
Using virtual interviews, the alumni were asked questions about how FCPS contributed to their success and how they represent FCPS Black History. They also provided photos and video clips. The final project was edited using Canva, Capcut, and iMovie. Great work!
🏆 Student Takeover Award – Mineral Point High School, WI – Matthew Goninen – The Blue Crew
This is the second year of gameday operation for Pointer Media! The school livestreams graphics on MPTV, custom video scoreboard graphics, and operation software and provides continuous coverage on social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok.
Thanks to all of these efforts, the district has over 4,150 combined followers in a district of 700 students! Mineral Point is also a repeat winner (Social Media Student All-Star Award 2022).
🏆 Facebook Standout Award – Cambridge-Isanti Schools, MN – Jill Puffer
As the HR Onboarding Specialist & Communications Associate, Jill took over at Cambridge-Isanti Schools during a time when there were multiple social media accounts for different schools. She consolidated them and focused on branding!
She also implemented a content ambassador program to connect with reps from their 11 different schools/programs. She’s found that consistency is key, which has helped her grow the follower base from 2,500 to 6,800, and the average reach went from 1,765 to 12,881.
🏆 Facebook Standout Award – Eastpointe Community Schools, MI – Caitlyn Kienitz
Caitlyn is a one-person shop at Eastpointe Community Schools but has a great network in her 7 schools. She’s found that #ThrowbackThursdays have been a huge hit, improving alumni connections.
A weekly question has driven up engagement, and she focuses on creating video content. Eastpointe won because the page is full of daily celebrations and relentless positivity, just like this post here!
Areas of Improvement
We’re 10 awards down, and we have 10 to go. Before we get to the rest, I wanted to share just a little bit of feedback on the submissions that were not selected as winners. There were over 100 really great submissions – but some were thrown out as a contender right away. Here are some things to watch out for.
We had 38 submissions for the best overall social media presence. I quickly ruled out accounts that had:
- Facebook pages overflowing with shared content from other sources. My rule is 1 out of 5 posts can be shared, but not more than that. You can post that information, but create a new post. It will reach more people!
- Posts had no emojis in them. Did you know that using emojis increases engagement by 80%? Yes – 🤯 80%! Here is a great article on incorporating them into your writing.
- Too much text on graphics! More than 80% of users only view social media on their mobile devices. That means graphics are very small! Take it from me, my 45-year-old set of eyes doesn’t see small type very well anymore. And it’s very challenging to try and zoom in on images. Graphics can be used, but stick to the basics and leave the post itself for the details!
When it comes to video, we had more than 50 submissions. My notes on creations that were immediately dismissed include:
- Slow starts – doesn’t grab attention right away
- Low views – if you take the time to create a video, we want your time to be worth it.
- Poor volume without captions included
- Too much text
- Reels using horizontal videos – it’s possible, but not ideal. It isn’t award-winning best practice.
- Inappropriate music – you have to be careful on TikTok and Instagram. Songs talking about going to the hotel room or making references to drugs shouldn’t be used for school videos.
OK, now let’s keep the positive inspiration going with our final 10 winners!
🏆 Creative Video Award – St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School, MN – Stephanie Jakoblich
Stephanie only had two hours to put this campaign together at St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School! She needed to communicate how having only one staff bathroom meant that long lines were an issue. She had to promote a raffle fundraiser and recruited staff who were willing to be actors in her video.
After shooting her video, Stephanie edited it in iMovie, posted it on their communication app, Instagram, and Facebook, and the fundraiser earned over $18,000, surpassing their goal!
This is also another repeat winner (Power of Social Media Award – 2021)!
🏆 Spreading Kindness Award – Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES, NY – FEH BOCES Communications and NFEC Health Occupations
Oh my goodness, I don’t need to describe this one to you. The post says it all:
Last week, our NFEC Health Occupations staff discovered that an elderly woman was in her final moments with no friends or family by her side. Seniors in the Health Occ program had worked with the woman the previous year during their clinical rotations. They had a relationship with her and wanted to be there for her.
Health Occ teacher Corri Johnston got permission, then she brought all 15 of her seniors to the woman’s bedside. The students held her hand and talked to her, keeping her company and providing some comfort as she passed.
“Our seniors demonstrated kindness, compassion, and humanity – that is something we cannot teach! Proud teacher moment for sure!” Ms. Johnston said.
And check out the comments that the post received. I love that Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES took the time to reply back to a wonderful comment that was made!
🏆 Fantastic Facilities Award – Mustang Public Schools, OK – John Kirk Wilson & Mustang Public Schools
How do you support a $180.9 million bond initiative? John Kirk Wilson will tell you with one post, meeting, and comment at a time!
Mustang Public Schools is the fastest-growing school district in Oklahoma. Search #Momentum23 on their Facebook page – @MustangSchools – to see the wide array of stories they told throughout their campaign. John spent hours generating content and responding to comments on posts and inside community FG groups. They also held over 70 public meetings! In the end, the community approved the vote!
🏆 Fantastic Facilities Award – Platteville School District, WI – Jordyn Belken
How would you move forward when others tell you the ballot question that your district is proposing is going to fail? Well, Jordyn Belken worked with her team at Platteville School District to achieve the ultimate underdog story!
They were doing a heavy ask for spending towards an activities complex that has a history of lesser community support. The communications efforts tailored the message to a diverse audience, used many mediums beyond social media, and put themselves in front of doubters.
The result? The question passed with 58% support! They are currently designing and constructing state-of-the-art spaces for students. Jordyn said this experience helped her give the self-doubt a big – Ba-Bye!!!
🏆 Storytelling Award – North East ISD, TX – NEISD Communications Team
Social media is all about telling stories, and I couldn’t let North East ISD’s award submissions go unnoticed this year. They are the recipients of the first-ever Storytelling Award. Scott Chidgey shared two wonderful examples.
First, he shared the NEISD Alumni highlight series. He explained that we should stop telling student stories at graduation! Alumni stories allow the district to showcase their “product.” This campaign was the most successful campaign for Scott in 6 years. They have featured:
- Professional athletes
- News Anchors
- NFL Stadium Architects
- Taylor Swift background singer/dancer
The second story features a current student-athlete who loves football and marching band. The post was a simple photo of the student directing the band at halftime of the game. It included quotes from both the student and the principal.
Look at the impact: Over 200 comments and more than 450 shares! You don’t always have to share a video. Bring photos to life with interviews and quotes. The post was a little longer than normal, but it packed a punch with its message. NEISD supports students to make sure they have all the opportunities they desire!
🏆 Trending Vertical Video Award – St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, VA – Mandi Sapp
Short-form video is very effective in connecting with people on social media. Mandi Sapp followed a trend on TikTok in the fall of 2022. The song was mostly used to describe relationships of people, but she applied it to their school in Virginia.
Mandi admitted that the video took nearly 2 days to complete. She used Canva video editor to build it, and each clip is synced perfectly to the song. She needed 160 photos to complete it!
It was fun & challenging – and now it received a Golden Gribble!!! Congrats, Mandi!
🏆 Shining Short Video Award – The Montessori School of San Antonio, TX – Chris Noel
Looking for new ways to highlight parent testimonials? Look at this winner from The Montessori School of San Antonio. It’s simply a voiceover with a little music!
I love how they incorporated photos from the school, and the parent never had to be on camera. They used captions from Instagram Reels (a sticker option) and the finished video shines bright. Way to go, Chris!
🏆 Outstanding Photography Award – Troy City School District, NY – Jason P. Laz
Catching the right photo is all about being in the right place at the right time. Just ask Jason! This past fall, he was able to capture this photo of the Troy City School District‘s Homecoming Queen being crowned. The boy in the background is her BROTHER! How priceless! He was so excited for her.
Special note on this: Jason was able to focus on capturing still images because his intern was streaming on Facebook Live. You have to be able to delegate to capture moments like this.
🏆 Outstanding Photography Award – Bellingham Public Schools, WA – Andrew Forhan & Bellingham Public Schools
Graduation is a big day! Andrew Forhan and his team at Bellingham Public Schools use official photos and “scenes of” throughout the events (they have multiple high schools). The photographers intentionally move to different areas of the venue.
When they are done, the focus is on the speed of release! They share the photos for free on Flickr, in addition to posting on their social media pages, and the pictures are posted immediately after graduation. The photos are great to use for publications, websites, and more. Andrew shared that Bellingham had a combined reach of over 35,000 across all social platforms! You can check out the Facebook post for yourself here.
Andrew is also a repeat winner (Fantastic Facilities Campaign 2021).
🏆 Social Media All Star Award – Naugatuck Public Schools, CT – Laraine Weschler
Looking for a district to emulate on social media? Then you have to check out Naugatuck Public Schools in Connecticut. Laraine is a SUPER STAR!
Naugatuck has well-branded accounts, uses creative storytelling, and delivers superb celebrations! In addition to the public-facing school page, Laraine runs an official school Facebook group – learn more here.
There is a big focus on photos, especially those that capture emotion. Laraine aims to capture big accomplishments down to the everyday interactions. Photos are also used for staff recruitment.
Another stellar example of why this account won the only social media all star award, this year, is for this video. Laraine started by surveying staff about what made their district different. She asked questions that would elicit an emotional response and intentionally highlighted a diverse range of staff members. The final product was used on social media, placed on the staff recruitment section of the website, and played at job fairs!
Laraine is also a repeat winner (Facebook Standout Award 2022).
Congratulations to all of our 2023 winners! I am so proud of you for your efforts and for everyone who took the time to submit a nomination. Keep an eye on these all-star accounts – and all the other winning schools – right here.
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