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How Social Media in Schools is Changing in 2021 – Five Trends

By January 6, 20214 min read

This year more than ever, social media played a large role in schools’ day-to-day. Fast, efficient communication became crucial. Developing and maintaining a response plan and relaying that to others determined how successful schools would be in educating students safely.

While 2020 was a challenging year for all of us, it was also a catalyst for improved social media communication strategies. So, what did schools and districts do this year that propelled them to a successful year? What were the learning moments that arose from failure and lead to more desirable outcomes?

To gather all this knowledge acquired during an unprecedented year, Class Intercom surveyed school communicators, educators, administrators, and technology professionals from public and private schools across the country. Compiling this information from schools and districts, Class Intercom developed the 2020-2021 Social Media Trends in Education Report.

Here are the five trends schools and districts need to be prepared for in 2021.

1. Pandemic Pace

The Covid-19 global pandemic pressed schools and districts to get information out quickly. This led many to turn to social media: 95% of schools used social media to communicate during the pandemic. Without much dispute, social media is the most effective method for communicating important information quickly and effectively. Those last-minute updates don’t have the luxury of waiting to be included in a weekly bulletin. As schools relied more heavily on social media to communicate, parents, staff, and community members followed. More schools are spending time focusing on moderating comments made on social media regarding the pandemic and their protocol. 37% of schools said they answered questions and complaints in their comments with pre-approved responses. 23% said they used a mixture of comments and private messages.

2. Invest in Your messaging

More schools are investing in paid social (ads and boosted posts) than ever before. Paid social media allows schools to ensure important messaging is conveyed to the right audience. 57% of schools shared that they have used paid social in the past year vs. 19% in 2019. The majority of schools (69%) are investing less than $500.

3. Give Students a Voice on Social

37% of schools have students contribute to their social media and another 27% of schools plan to implement a student-driven social media curriculum in the near future. Students are allies in the content creation process. Not only are they familiar with the process, but they are also the best people to be telling the story of the school. They are experiencing classes, extracurricular activities, and school culture every day. Who better to share that story than them? Not only does student-driven content help the school share their story, but it also educates students in social content planning and creation as a way to provide real-world experience into journalism, business, and marketing program curriculum.

4. Expand and Organize your Social Communications

Social media content consumption is higher than ever. This means it is more difficult to cut through the noise and reach your audience. For a lot of schools and districts, this means expanding to more profiles and platforms. 2020 saw schools on more social channels with some dipping their toes in TikTok (5%) and Pinterest (7%) for the first time. Notable growth was also seen on Instagram and YouTube. 27% of respondents juggle 11 or more social pages compared to 15% in 2019. This spike in managing multiple pages demonstrates the value that many are seeing in expanding the number of social pages to connect with families, students, staff, and the community. In the past 15 months, our results indicate that the total number of individuals managing those social pages has relatively stayed the same. This means that the same people are managing more social content. 61% of schools are using some version of social media management software to help do this. Once content is published, 67% of schools are pulling social media analytics to analyze performance on a quarterly basis or more to ensure their messaging techniques are working. This allows them to then implement new ideas and become more effective at communicating on social media.

5. Communicating via Video

Video is a top communication resource for schools and has been growing dramatically. It is a great resource for quickly and efficiently communicating information while maintaining an effective conversational tone. 63% of schools are using a pre-recorded video on social, 41% of schools are using live video, and 23% are hosting live Q&A sessions on social. Communicating via video will only become more important in 2021.

For more information on the future of social media in schools, download our 2020-2021 Social Media Trends in Education Report here.