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Thinking Strategically About Your Social Media as a Superintendent

Education in the 21st century has experienced a technological revolution, changing the way we reach our audience and communicate with them. The world has gone digital, and social media has become a tool for communication, student and staff engagement and collaboration. As a school superintendent, it's important to understand the best practices for using social media effectively. In this post, we've gathered tips on how to engage with your audience, share your school district's highlights, and promote your most important priorities.

Share Student Celebrations and Day-to-day Activities

It's no longer enough to be known for academic excellence - community engagement is key to creating an impactful social media presence. Social media is a platform to share your school district's personality, and one of the best ways to do so is by showcasing student achievements and highlighting day-to-day activities. These can be as simple as sharing an 'Employee of the Month' or "A Day in the Life" post - it's the little details that truly help to connect with your audience.

During the Impact Group's latest Digital Leadership Academy Webinar, Tips on Social Media, Buckeye Local Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Stanton recalls some of the intentional day-to-day activities that they share on social: professional development days for staff, maintenance staff clearing sidewalks and parking lots in the early morning after a snow storm, activities happening in classrooms, etc.

The key here is to keep it simple - social media should be strategic but fun! Here is one example from Buckeye about the Transportation Department that highlights how a simple post appreciating the recent participation of the Transportation Team in a Touch-a-Truck event can engage your social media audience.

Capture More than the Algorithm with Photos

In today's smartphone era, where high-quality photos are easily accessible, genuine snapshots of school happenings, like sporting events and other activities, outshine social media graphics. Since the algorithm inherently favors photos, incorporating them into your social posts will increase the likelihood of audience visibility and engagement. As the popular saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words," - and this holds particularly true in the realm of social media.

One of the most difficult parts of prioritizing photos on school district social media is receiving content from across the district. There are often only one or two people who are managing social media, and motivating busy staff members to share their photos can be challenging, and you and anyone else managing your social pages can't be everywhere. As we talk about in Tips on Social Media, there are a few different ways to approach this in order to be successful :

  1. As Superintendent, it is important to prioritize district communication and lead by example. Having a conversation with your administrators during a cabinet or principal's meeting and discussing best practices and expectations for communications and social media is a great first step.
  2. Establishing a process for photo submissions that is simple but effective will help set the tone and ease any pressure of additional work or tasks. At the Impact Group, we like to use Google Forms with four simple questions: What is your name? What building are you in? Are the students allowed to be photographed (any known FERPA Restrictions)? What is going on in the photo? Google Forms allows uploads directly into your Google Drive, will keep a spreadsheet of the responses and will send an email notification to you when the form is complete (so there isn't a need to check in frequently).
  3. Once the process is established in a way that works for you and your team, create posters or flyers for the breakroom, and teachers' lounge as a reminder to share. Email reminders are also an effective way to keep it top of mind.
  4. Other ways to encourage staff to share photos include professional development on social media and photo-taking, selecting certain "building influencers" so a specific staff member is designated for photo taking, or creating a contest or incentive for submitting photos.

Showcase Your School District's Personality

Showcasing school pride and personality is one of the best ways to engage your community on social media - and it is more fun! Encourage your school administration to go beyond communicating academic news by showcasing projects that your students are passionate about. A possible strategy is to create content that celebrates the accomplishments of staff and teachers within the district.

It is important to note that when it comes to social media, avoid controversial topics on your social pages. Use email and other forms of communication to clarify facts and information with your families. Posts and stories on social are much more likely to spread and take on a life of their own. We work with clients who like to refer to the content they share as "puppies and unicorns." So, keep that in mind when you or your staff are sharing or responding on social.

Post Frequently and Consistently

Posting consistently assures that you are always entertaining, informing and educating your audience about recent happenings in your district. Ultimately, especially in districts with limited resources for communication, consistency is more important than frequency, as algorithms favor those who post consistently, meaning at least once a week. The optimal posting frequency for Facebook, Instagram and X are an average of 1-2 posts per day.

Creating a submission process is key to posting consistently and frequently.

Understand the Importance of Community Engagement

Social media provides a perfect platform to involve the community. With the broad reach of the channels, it is a free and easy tool to engage with families, staff members, alumni and other community members. Using simple prompts, like "Share your first day of school photos with us!" or creating a contest for the best snow fort on a snow day for students who use it for reading, allows opportunities for the community to see the people behind the school district.


In conclusion...

Social media platforms provide a perfect way to engage and interact with the school district’s target audience. Social media is an essential tool for any Superintendent who desires to improve the school district's interaction with its stakeholders. With the right tools, strategies, and tactics, it is possible to manage your social media presence more efficiently, showcase your brand's personality, and build a strong school culture.

At the Impact Group, we are experts in supporting school districts and superintendents to communicate what is most important to them. Using our strategic communication model, we help schools across the state of Ohio implement comprehensive strategies to engage with and reinforce priorities, including using social media. Get to know us!