In an ever-changing world, schools need to communicate clearly and effectively with their stakeholders. The weather can change and activities are canceled. Schools want to increase attendance at parent/teacher conferences, inform the community about an upcoming bond issue, and provide in-the-moment updates during athletic and activity events. Or a strange and unexpected event might pop up.
Last year, my school had a plumbing incident where the entire campus water pressure dropped. With over 2,000 students and toilets with no running water, school was dismissed early, families were notified, and students were out of the building.
It’s tough to know which platform to use to reach the intended audience for each message. Fortunately, just like many aspects of school, social media has useful data to help schools make informed decisions, plan strategic communication, reach intended audiences, find school communication strengths, and archive all content. Data-informed social media decisions can take your communication strategy to the next level.
Look into your social media analytics to help you make informed decisions about where, when, and what to post on each platform. Class Intercom allows schools to pull reports measuring fans, comments, shares, likes, engagement, and impressions to make decisions about their future messaging. Here’s an example of some data you can analyze.
By digging into posts over a period of time, schools can understand trends in their Facebook messaging. Looking at trends and digging further into each social media platform will help schools make communication decisions.
- What is the purpose of the communication?
- What content stimulates engagement?
- Who is the content reaching?
- When are they most likely seeing content?
- Where are your stakeholders going to get information from the school?
Messages can be crafted for students, parents/guardians, staff, and community-based on the platform they use most. For example, the Social Media in Education Report noted that 66% of students go to Instagram for information, whereas, 93% of parents/guardians use Facebook.
If you are just beginning to use social media as part of your communication plan, remember if you post it, they will come.
Plan Strategic Communication
Social media provides a connection between the school and the community. It’s an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the school and gain a first-hand look at the authentic experiences in schools. The 2021-2022 Social Media in Education Report indicated that 83% of schools/districts have social media integrated into their communication plans. Being strategic about communication can help school marketing, improve public relations, build trust, and connect to the community.
To help with social strategic planning, schools can create content calendars for each platform. Schools identify the right audience, increase traffic on social media platforms, improve campaigns, and connect with the community.
- What information do you want to make sure your patrons have?
- Which of your audience do you want to reach?
- What time of year, month, week, or day do you want to provide the information?
- Who would be the best person to create the specific content?
- Which platform(s) would be most effective for distribution of information?
Planning content ahead of time and scheduling the posts will ensure you get all important information to your community and they effectively engage. Robert Pryor from Midway ISD talked about organizing district-wide social media in a webinar in May.
Reach Intended Audiences
The Social Media in Education Report highlights how schools engage with stakeholders on social media. Facebook is noted as the go-to platform to connect with parents or guardians and the community, as well as, a little over 50% of staff. Instagram is the leading network for students. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin all offer opportunities to connect and engage with a network and increase brand awareness, and they also have unique strengths for communication. By analyzing social media metrics, you can target audiences based on their most-used platforms.
- Where are your patrons going for information?
- Who are your target audience?
- What content will your audiences want to engage with?
- How will your intended audience relate to the tone of your content?
Effective communication with your intended audience can clarify understandings, build relationships, and eliminate confusion.
Identify Communication Strengths
Analyzing data is important to identifying communication strengths. By looking at analytics, you can discover the types of posts that support the school, stakeholders, and community.
- Which posts are engaging stakeholders?
- What platform is getting the most traffic?
- What messages are showing the life of your school or district?
- What type of posts receive the most response?
Understanding your strengths in your social media communication empowers content creators to continue to communicate and display your brand. By identifying content your community likes, you build a stronger relationship and build trust.
Because social media is becoming a powerful communication tool for schools, archiving your social media content is essential to the success of your brand. It provides peace of mind if a question were to arise about messaging or compliance. Class Intercom has unlimited archival storage because of the importance of being able to easily access social media content history. If the information would ever be questioned or requested, schools can go to their data, search for a specific post, and support their communication efforts.
- Is your school able to retrieve historical information on social media platforms?
- Would your school be able to provide social media data, if requested?
- If an agency were to question social media ethics, would you be able to retrieve content?
Data-informed social media can take your communication plans to the next level. Social media has the power to improve public relations, retain students, and build enrollment. It also can increase your connection to your community, build trust through transparency, and unify your district.