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Time for a New Pair of Shoes! Creating Collaborative Social Media Content to Leave a Positive Digital Footprint

Green Background with Computer screen and three people collaborating

OLD SHOES?

We often worry about hiding or covering up items online that may look bad to a potential employer or the new in-laws. These posts might range from boozing it up at a college party or ranting about political beliefs. School leaders–myself included–preach to students about the importance of maintaining a positive digital footprint, all the while focusing on eliminating the negative.

BAREFOOT? (Doesn’t that leave a footprint, too?)

Over the last decade, I’ve been involved in hiring a large number of people for both education and ed tech roles. When I go online to review a potential employee’s digital footprint, I’m not looking to find dirt; instead, I’m looking to see what they’re doing, what type of content they’re generating, and who they are impacting. While I don’t want to find items that may be deemed inappropriate or controversial, I’m even more concerned when I can’t find any online presence at all. A non-existent online presence tells a story of its own, and it’s not a good one. 

NEW SHOES? (Oh, for a pair of red-bottom Louboutins!)

How might you leave a positive digital footprint? Do you need to trade in your stilettos for a pair of Birkenstocks or toss those old tennis shoes for a new shade of Hey Dudes? There is no perfect shoe. There is no perfect footprint. The point is that rather than working to eliminate your online existence, why not work to build a positive online presence?

What do people find when they google your name? Pause for a minute, open a new tab, and try it. If you’re like me–Jill Johnson–you’re going to have to be more specific. Add your city, state, previous schools, or job.  What pops up? Is your digital footprint good? Bad? Non-existent? 

If your answer is the latter, it is definitely time for a new, or at least a different, pair of shoes. 

SHARING YOUR SHOES (Don’t take this literally–that’s kind of gross!)

So much happens in the classrooms, in the halls, and on the fields/courts of a school. Districts and schools are appropriately using social media not as simply a bulletin board, but as a social outlet to build connections intentionally. To effectively share their stories firsthand, schools are expanding their content creation teams beyond administration and school PR professionals to support staff, educators, coaches, and students.

  1. OPEN UP YOUR SHOE CLOSET

Develop a sense of community. A school district is a community. A community of schools, grades, classrooms, and activities. Developing a collaborative content creation environment allows schools to share their students’ personal and educational growth experiences firsthand.

While many of the respondents to the 2021 Social Media in Education Report shared that social media content creation originated at the top level from district communications administration (77%) and school administrators such as principals (84%), several also shared that members of the faculty and students were also contributing. Other collaborative social content contributors included teachers (64%), athletic coaches and advisors (60%), secretaries (48%), media specialists (43%), and technology specialists (43%).

  1. HAND DOWN THOSE SHOES 

I hated giving away my things to younger neighbors as I outgrew them. It’s tough giving up something you love. Conversely, as much as I hated getting hand-me-downs from my older siblings, I secretly relished finally getting my hands on shoes I’d been coveting for months or even years as I waited for my feet to be big enough to warrant the wearing. 

School leaders are learning the joy in giving up control–handing it down to staff and students. According to the 2021 Social Media in Education Report, schools have been engaging students in contributing to their content in the classroom settings (23%) and club settings (23%). Seventeen percent of respondents shared that while they do not have students contributing to content today, they are planning to implement student-led social content creation programs soon. 

The hand-me-down process is tough on both sides, but in the end, everyone wins.

  1. GET OUT YOUR DANCING SHOES

In the 2021 Social Media in Education Report, Class Intercom looked at the types of content and how it was being shared. The majority of districts and schools primarily communicate through the traditional copy and/or image posts (96%): these are your everyday shoes. Another 64% are sharing pre-recorded video and 32% have taken the filter-free approach of live video. Some have also taken to social media for more in-depth information gathering and sharing with surveys (13%) and Live Q&A sessions (13%). 

While some schools are wearing their everyday shoes and sharing general announcements on their social media sites, others are putting on their dancing shoes. While 69% of schools are sharing items such as general policy announcements and snow days, other schools are also giving followers a peek into the lives of their students. Most schools were providing classroom highlights (70%) and another 38% told even more of their story with student life updates and student/staff recognition.

Social content additionally had a big focus on extracurricular activities. Extracurricular event promotion was made on social media by 54% of the respondents. Fifteen percent took it a step further posting live updates at events; thirty- three percent posted event highlights. 

A DIFFERENT PAIR OF SHOES?

In light of Digital Citizenship Week 2021, I’d like to push not only for breaking out your best pair of shoes for the occasion, but also for wearing those everyday shoes as we maneuver online.

  1. T-H-I-N-K before you post. Like I tell my own kids, THINK before you DO anything, online or otherwise. (Yes, this sign is right by the front door. Yes, my kids accuse me of being “teachery” all the time.)
  2. Clean up online materials and social media posts that may not represent who you are today. 
  3. Consider what you want to accomplish with each piece that goes online. The ol’ English teacher in me wants to stress TAP: Topic, Audience, Purpose. Who do you want to impact? What behavior do you want to influence?

Do you want to learn more about social media in education? 

Read the full 2021-22 Social Media in Education Report here. 

View the Social Media in Education Webinar here. 

Author: Jill Johnson, EdD

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.

Jill can be contacted at jill@classintercom.com

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