School communicators from around the country are all asking the same thing…
What in the world should I do about our school’s Twitter account?
I’ve been fielding plenty of questions, leaning into expert resources, and trusting my gut when it comes to what’s best for schools. Today’s blog is going to summarize what I’ve learned, but the decisions all boil down to what’s right for your unique school community. Let’s dig in.
Twitter Changes & Turmoil
Since Elon Musk purchased the platform in April 2022, there have been some major changes to the Twitter platform. I found this article helpful in distilling all the chaos.
These are the changes that are likely to have the biggest impact on your school:
- You can no longer embed the Twitter feed on your website, which is one way that many schools gained visibility for their accounts.
- Twitter limits how many tweets users can see per day, unless they pay the $8/month subscription price. In July 2023, Musk announced that accounts that don’t pay the monthly subscription will be temporarily restricted to reading 600 posts per day, while verified accounts will be able to scroll through up to 6,000. This can impact the reach of your school’s tweets.
- Twitter just changed its name and logo to X. But I don’t advise changing your icon quite yet! Finalsite shared the following advice in a service bulletin:
The Twitter icon has become an iconic symbol. People are still becoming familiar with the new name of X. Maintaining the current icon helps to preserve brand continuity and ensures a sense of familiarity for users. With the change being so recent, there is not an official publicly available X icon. Even Twitter’s branding guidelines have not yet been updated to reflect the changes.
Elon Musk has suggested that the logo may be further refined. There are other companies with claims to the X name, such as Meta and Microsoft. This further complicates the situation and again we don’t want to change icons now if this further evolves into something else.
- With all of these changes, many users have left the platform, further reducing the impact your account can have on your students, staff, and community.
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What Should Your School Do About Twitter?
It really depends! I believe that every school is different, but I do have some talking questions that you can ask yourself (and your school leaders) as you make this decision to get to the right answer for your school.
How big is your following?
Look at the ratio of followers and engagement you have on this channel as compared to platforms like Facebook and Instagram. As Brian Bridges, Director of Communications & Public Relations at Lake Hamilton School District in Arkansas, states, “I want to remove the platform. We only have 873 followers [on Twitter] but have over 14,000 on Facebook and close to 5,000 on Instagram.”
How much capacity do you have in your communications team?
You only have 24 hours in your day. Being active on multiple social media channels takes time! If you already feel stretched too thin, now might be the perfect time to reprioritize the time spent on this platform.
Where do you get the most engagement?
It’s not just about posting – you must manage the interaction you receive. People use social media to ask questions and share feedback. It’s important that you spend your precious social media monitoring time on the platform(s) that your audience is actually using.
Is your staff or athletic department big on Twitter?
Many districts have a very robust Twitter presence, especially when it comes to their athletic teams and teachers/staff. Twitter can be a great place for continuous sports updates and everyday happenings from teachers’ classrooms.
If this is the case for your district, you could consider keeping your district account to simply retweet what others share, still skipping an organic strategy on this platform.
Options for Your School’s Twitter Account
Option 1: Deactivate your account
Once you deactivate, you have 30 days to change your mind. If you don’t take action after those 30 days, your account and all history would be gone. You also lose your username. This could be gobbled up by someone else pretending to be your school, so it’s something to remember.
Option 2: Keep your account but stop tweeting
If you go this route, pin a tweet to the top of your feed that states you are not actively updating or retweeting content. Add your other social medial links to the post so people know where to find you.
Option 3: Keep your account and use it for retweeting
Use your Twitter account to just retweet others that are celebrating your school. By following hashtags that relate to your school, you could retweet on a daily basis.
Option 4: Status quo
Of course, you can continue using your account just as you have been! I don’t recommend throwing in an entirely new, more intensive strategy. Just continue to use it as you have in the past, always monitoring the metrics.
What Are Other Schools Doing About Twitter
I reached out to a number of school communicators that I know and trust, including members of my Social Media Crew for Schools. I think you can relate to some of their responses!
Here’s what they had to say:
“We have stopped using it”
“We aren’t active on Twitter. Never had high engagement, so we ditched it a long time ago.”
“We gave up on Twitter a while ago because of low engagement. I keep thinking about bringing it back with an athletics focus, but the volatility of the platform isn’t worth it, in my opinion.”
“I have tried to add followers to ours but gave up. It is just not what our audiences follow. So I will delete it since we get tagged by some strange groups and people.”
“Removed at the district level, recommending leaving it to our schools. Will have a conversation with our coaches.”
“We haven’t used Twitter in the past year, so we will probably just drop it.”
“We haven’t been using Twitter. Our stakeholders just don’t seem to be on it so I would like to say “buh bye” for good.”
“We are sticking with our current strategy”
“I post a couple of times a week, so our account is still somewhat active. I don’t want to jump ship and leave it open for someone else to create an account with our name or similar. I’ll wait before replacing the logo on anything. In a long list of school PR priorities, Elon’s drama and shenanigans will not get too much of my attention and time. 😄 We have coaches who use Twitter for college recruitment strategies and even ask that their senior players create accounts for this purpose. I stay far away from athletics, though…”
“For now, I’m letting it ride. Twitter has been the go-to for our local reporters and also athletic updates. There are many nights with multiple athletic events happening at the same time. Our admins divide and conquer with Twitter posts, with a thread for each event. This also keeps Facebook from being consumed by athletics. I would like to have conversations with principals and athletic directors about an alternative for posting sports scores when the X crashes and burns.”
“We’re still using it, but haven’t been posting as much. I reached out to my County PIO group to see what they were doing (fire, police, public health). Since they were all staying, we decided to stay as well.”
“I’m posting sparingly but continuing to monitor the platform. It is utilized by educators, local media, government, and community partners, but it is certainly not a key tool for reaching families or students. It really is a shame, though, because in addition to the real-time athletic updates, we’ve been highly successful at motivating our faculty to use Twitter to get good news out. Hopefully, all that good work isn’t entirely undone.”
“I’m still tweeting things occasionally – we were not getting much, if any, engagement before the change – this may be my excuse to stop using it altogether – will be interested to hear what others are doing as well…”
“It’s not a platform we actively use – everything was reposted from IG before that integration broke back in May. If we were going to have to update all of our icons, I was going to advise just to remove it, but we think our web host/platform (Finalsite) will update the icons for us. So my short answer is that we’ll probably not do anything differently for a while. We have a very small following on Twitter/X.”
“We primarily get engagement on Twitter on athletics. I hate to do away with it because that’s where we get lot of our exposure in the sports media arena.”
“I just removed the Twitter Bird icon from our website landing page – still deciding/strategizing how we will handle our profile moving forward. We have very limited following on the platform (mainly FB, Insta, LinkedIn, and some YouTube).”
“We are stepping away but not deactivating the account”
“Our school district has decided to step away from Twitter. We were posting 2-3 times a weekday but since the change to X we have stopped tweeting ourselves and instead only retweet when other members of our community tag us in posts. We thought about pinning a post to our profile telling our users we were taking a break and to follow us on Facebook and Instagram but we decided against it since we did not want to draw negative attention to our decision to use Twitter less.”
“Our key stakeholders don’t do anything on it. Other platforms connect much better. ALSO, and super important, check out Pew Research’s data on social media. It’ll show you data on the most popular networks with YouTube and Facebook over the others.”
Should My School Jump on Threads?
With Twitter in turmoil, many people are looking to Threads as a possible alternative. I summed up my thoughts about Threads in this short video:
Basically, I suggest a “wait-and-see” approach. Right now, your username from Instagram matches your username for Threads, so there is no need to jump over to secure your username. The functionality of Threads is pretty low right now. For instance, you can’t follow hashtags on Threads, yet.
People are still trying to figure out the platform, and you really don’t need to add one more thing to your already-full plate!
If you’re interested in learning more about Threads as an alternative to Twitter or just as its own platform – what it can do, what it can’t do, etc. – check out this blog from Social Media Examiner:
I hope this article gave you some clarity on what your school should do about Twitter / X / Threads! Please tweet @ me with your thoughts. I’m still there for now! I’d love to continue this conversation.