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How to Train, Retain, and Sustain a Social Media Team

By March 11, 20225 min read

March 2022

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How do we TRAIN students to serve on our team?

Once you have some team members in place, you want to define the different rules depending on your needs. Inspiring your students to take chances and be creative is the key to success. Keep the rules to a minimum and focus on basic best practices, just like you would do for the adult users. Remind students that they are telling a story for a much wider audience through the lens of the school. Allow them to tell the story from their point of view and encourage the use of creativity through photos, graphics, videos, and emojis. Remember, we are just facilitators in their story; they are the ones living it. 

My very first intern, Bekah, created a simple list of all the activities taking place that fall, and we recruited representatives for each of those activities: cheerleaders had a representative, quizbowl had a representative, etc. Bekah quickly trained each of these representatives on the Class Intercom system and reviewed a couple do’s (always use the school hashtag) and don’ts (never use words like kill). She also introduced each of them to the running spreadsheet with all the activities as this is where they could find everything they needed as a representative

How do we RETAIN students once we have them on our team?

Once we have students trained in generating content, it’s important to retain them. This can be done by making them feel like part of the team. After training, we presented each team member with a personalized Social Media Team badge on a school lanyard and placed a Social Media Team sign on their school locker. Initially, I was surprised at the pride in which students responded to and wore these badges. By year three, the presentation of the badges became a ritual students anticipated.

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To get started making your own personalized badges, use this Press Pass Badge template.

To get started making your own personalized locker signs, use this Locker Sign template. 

Short team meetings, even once per quarter, are a great way to touch base and celebrate successes, offer feedback, and set goals for the future. Because scheduling is tough, I picked a specific day and asked team members to stop by my office after lunch. One of the interns handed out thank-you notes with a drink and snacks just to say thanks. We briefly touched base on what they were doing well (e.g., posting on time, including photos/graphics) as well as challenging them to try something new in their content creation (e.g., adding more video, inserting tags or hashtags). One of my favorites used by a Class Intercom school to celebrate the success of their students was “Content Crushers” with an Orange Crush Soda. To find more ideas for celebrating content generator success, use this celebration tags template.

Again, providing sample posts and post starters is very helpful for adult and student content creators. I’d also encourage you to create a system for giving credit for creative work being done by your students; for instance, if Jonie took the photos or Mary wrote the copy, the content creators should be tagged as shown here.

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Another nice touch is to introduce the student at the beginning of the event from which they are posting live. For example, “Tweeting for Seward High tonight is junior Jax Jones. Jax will be giving quarter-by-quarter score updates on Twitter. Thanks, Jax!”

You should also treat the social media team like any other extra-curricular activity in your school. This may include a team photo (posted on social media, of course), a team poster, and even team shirts!

How do we SUSTAIN our team from year to year?

By empowering a variety of students to help create content, you are building a more sustainable system. During the middle of my first year of allowing students to create content for our school’s social media profiles, I realized that my four senior leaders would be leaving at the end of the school year. This meant that although I had a good thing started, it would quickly fizzle if I didn’t have a plan in place. The senior interns and I discussed this and talked about leaving a legacy by taking pride in what they had started and enabling others to continue to build on and improve the program. Jonathan Svoboda, the intern in charge of video production, made a tutorial on how to edit using the school software program; the intern in charge of Graphics, Carson Core, organized the folder system of graphic templates, and that original intern, Bekah, recruited and trained her own replacement.

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Remember, empowering a number of adults and students in the systematic process ensures that even if you leave, the program will continue. After my third year of having a student social media team, I had over 50 students in 20 staff members creating content with 5-7 of the adults consistently approving content for publication. This not only gave students an incredible opportunity, but it also alleviated the workload placed on the principal, activity director, and front-office staff and helped us tell a more robust story about our school.

Which tool do I use to make sure this is safe and secure?

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The team outlined here used Class Intercom to design, Implement, and sustain their system for a social media team of content creators. They chose Class Intercom because it: 

  • Allows for an unlimited number of users;
  • Requires an approval system by assigned moderators before content can be posted;
  • Allows for an unlimited number of scheduled post, which is great for producing all the calendar information like PT conferences and winter break; and
  • Archives all content from posts to photos to replies.
Jill Johnson

Over her 30 year career in education, Dr. Jill has served in various roles including secondary ELA teacher, professional development consultant, and high school administrator. After completing her doctoral study, Technology Leadership Qualities in Secondary Principals in Nebraska who Support Student-led Social Media Teams, Jill began her tenure as Class Intercom President.