Articles & Resources About Social Media

Social MediaSocial media’s exponential growth over the past few years, with 91% (and growing) adults accessing some type of social media per month means anyone can tweet, pin, comment, and post on just about any business or organization in the world (yes, even those without a social media presence!).

With more than 66% of adults online in America connected to one or more social platforms, there are incredible opportunities to get your organization’s news and information in front of your audiences! The tips posted in our Social Media blog are designed with education and non-profit organizations in mind so that you can harness the power of social media for your organization!

20 Creative Social Media Content Ideas

I don’t know about you, but developing ongoing creative content for social media can become a challenge sometimes.  We know that creative content grabs your audiences, encourages them to act, and drives results for your organization, but sometimes we get into a rut.

Our friends over at Buffer created an awesome visual (see below) that provides 20 great social media content ideas.  You could seriously produce over a month’s worth of content with these ideas!

  1. Turn a blog post into a video:  We know that video captures peoples’ attention and results in more shares than most other social media posts.  Why not repackage a blog post into a video?  Why not use Superintendent’s welcome back message, and, rather than getting a picture of the Superintendent at his or her desk, why not get some great B-roll of your students, teachers and staff engaging in activities that support your superintendent’s message, and use the message as the narration?
  2. Create a how-to video: As YouTube has shown us, people love how-to videos.  If you have a non profit organization, maybe you can create a how-to video on donating or contributing to your organization. Here are some video ideas for you:
    • Tips
    • How-to guides
    • Customer stories
    • Behind-the-scenes
    • User-generated content
    • New service announcements
    • District/organization announcements or milestones
  3. Go live: Facebook’s “go live” feature is a great way to bring the news to your followers as it’s happening. Non profits–this is a great way to capture footage at an event as it’s happening; schools can capture real-time “first day of school” activities and more.
  4. Interview someone (live):  Go out to one of your district’s schools during an anti bullying week, and play the role as the roving reporter that asks each student about how they will prevent bullying.
  5. Post 360 photos or videos: Buildings and campuses look pretty cool in 360 degrees!  So do groups of people–inside or outside.
  6. Attach a GIF: What is it with GIFs? Somehow they capture the essence of a thought or mood in familiar and silly ways.  “How principals feel on the first day of school” with a fun (and positive) GIF is one way to capture people’s attention!
    An idea to try: Buffer suggests using Animoto (or your favorite video-editing tool) to turn one of your recent blog posts into a short 30-second video.
  7. Curate user generated content: Curate photos that people have posted on your social media accounts, or, experiment with a short user-generated content campaign (and you can decide if you want to continue with it after the experiment).
  8. Use a self-explanatory image: Self-explanatory images can fully explain a concept or an idea without people having to click on the link and read an article. On the other hand, quality stock photos are usually too abstract to convey the message.An idea to try: Try answering these three questions (thanks to Buffer for these ideas!) the next time you want to share an image on social media:
    • Would this image make sense with no caption at all?
    • Does this image contain relevant or insightful content?
    • Would I share this content myself?

    If you answer “yes” to at least two of the three questions, you have likely found yourself a self-explanatory image.

  9.  Use charts or graphs: Another type of explanatory image is charts and graphs. Use a graph or chart to illustrate key information about student performance, expenditures and more.
  10. Share a relevant infographic: Using an infographic creator, you can easily explain the nuances of school district budgeting, how test scores work, and more!
  11. Partner with another organization: One of my favorite tactics to build into my clients’ social media strategies is the idea of leveraging partnerships–mutually-beneficial partnerships will help you reach new audiences and grow your social media following.  Maybe you have a partnership with a large non profit or a business that is helping your students.  Work together on content that leverages both of your organizations.
  12. Do a social swap: Similar, but simpler that partnering with another organization, in a social swap, two organizations exchange relevant content regularly and share the other company’s content on their own social media accounts. With a social swap, you get great content to share on your social media accounts and benefit from having another organization share your content.
  13. Organize a social contest: This is another tactic that I love building into client’s social media strategies–a contest.  First, people do not expect school districts or non profits to hold a fun social media contest!  These posts also generate the most engagement from followers.  This is a way to actually let your organization’s fun side show.  Use anniversaries, a new program launch, or another cause for celebration to create a basis for your contest.  Here are a few things you can invite your followers to do to participate:
    • Comment
    • Tag a friend
    • Share a post
    • Tweet with a hashtag
    • Post a photo and use your branded hashtag
  14. Poll your audience: People love sharing their opinions, and you can use the poll as a means to collect data from your audiences.
  15. Ask a question for help: People love to help, and if you ask people about their favorites (what is your favorite school event? What can our district do to better serve your child?), preferences, etc. this is another way to help you better understand your audiences and their motivations.
  16. Pull interesting stats from a blog post:  Using a statistic in your introduction is often recommended as a way to “hook” your readers and keep them reading. If the statistic is relevant (and shocking) to your followers, they might be more intrigued to read your blog post or watch your video.  Use this as an opportunity to share statistics that help your organization or can help parents with their child’s educational experience.
  17. Pull a meaningful quote from a blog post: This is a great way to summarize the information from the blog post, and you can also use it as a way to engage your audience (do you agree, disagree, why?)
  18. Create a list in the caption: Provide a picture that draws someone to a list of information on your website.  Use a portion of your post to include this list, but a teaser to bring them to your website for more information.
  19. Add emojis or symbols: Emojis have become quite popular with audiences–in fact, 6 million emojis are shared on social media each day! I hesitated on whether or not I would support this idea, but here’s the first rule of thumb-consider whether emojis are consistent with your brand and image.  Here is some great info on shortcuts and how to use emojis in your social media posts.
  20. Share or retweet your followers’ posts: Don’t you love it when someone retweets your posts?  Well, do the same for your followers!  Retweet blog posts, social media posts, and more–it shows you appreciate what they are doing, as well.

 

Want more inspiration and examples?  Visit Buffer’s blog post on this topic.

20 Creative Ways to Share Your Content on Social Media

Image courtesy of Buffer social

5 Components of GREAT Story Telling

What is your story?Blogging, social media and video provide organizations excellent platforms to tell your story. However, if your stories aren’t interesting, then your audience will quickly lose interest….and they’ll stop paying attention to your stories.

The one thing that some of the most viral stories have in common is that they tell the story well. Well, what makes a great story?

However, story telling does not need to be complex or difficult in order to be compelling. After reviewing a number of different sources, I came up with five components of great story telling. With a few tweaks, and a little practice, you can turn your descriptive paragraphs into great stories that lead to excellent results.

1-Begin in the action

Draw readers into your story by beginning with the action. Instead of starting your first paragraph with, “On September 9th, ABC School students had an exciting Patriots Day assembly that included a SWAT helicopter, a fire truck and a flag raising ceremony” why not draw a picture of the students’ actual experience, as if one were watching a video of the story? “On the grassy field, students’ hair blew all around while they watched, wide-eyed, as a SWAT helicopter landed in front of them….” From there, you can then continue describe the audience’s experience, versus merely describing what happened.

2-Evoke Emotions

Using descriptive words and sharing the emotions of the participants, try to evoke those same emotions in your readers. Did some students jump up and cheer when she saw the SWAT helicopter? Or, were they so impressed that they looked up in awe as the helicopter came down onto the field? Including these details in the story keeps your reader’s interest.

3-Keep it True and Real

The good thing is, when you’re in the people business, like education and non-profits, it’s easy to keep stories true and real. Reinforce this by getting quotes from participants. Ask them open-ended questions about how they felt, whether they were surprised or excited about the event, and what they liked the best or what they learned from the event. Their responses highlight the true experiences of your participants, and are much more interesting than the usual canned, “We want to make sure students remember how important our public safety officers are to them.” Zzzzzzzz….

4-Highlight a struggle

Most great stories describe a challenge that was overcome. How many of your favorite movies or books involved a character that just skated through life? Audiences like to know that there was some type of challenge involved. Part of your story could be about the challenges of organizing the event itself—and how your event/community partners came through in the end. It’s a great way to highlight your organization’s gratitude for your community partners.

5-Keep it simple

The day of the week, describing what people wore (unless it’s relevant to the story), and other nuances aren’t necessary for an impactful story. One of the most interesting stories can be the shortest ones. A famous example that I keep in mind when I find myself “writing in the weeds” (i.e., getting too complex) is a six word short story (often wrongly attributed to Stephen Kind and Ernest Hemingway): “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Begins with the action, evokes emotions, true and real, and includes a struggle or conflict.

Bonus Tip-Include a Call to Action

Great story telling can also help your organization gain more supporters and partners for its endeavors. So, including a call to action at the end of your story is a great way to encourage audience members to be a part of the action, solution or support your organization needs to be successful.

Want to learn more? Here are some great resources:

TED Talks on Storytelling

The 5 Common Elements of Good Story Telling

The Secret to Great Story Telling

How to Tell a Great Story

21 Call to Action Examples

5 Ways to Build a Blog Following

keepcalm-and-follow-my-blog-keep-calmYou’re blogging…but are you reaching ALL of your audiences?  Building your blog’s audience is critical to your blog’s success–here are five ways to build your following:

1. Take advantage of existing email lists. You probably have an email database of for your organization or school. Why not repurpose blog content in the next email or e-newsletter to that audience? Tease these readers with a tweak of your blog headline and give them a link to your new blog (even ask them to subscribe so they can get each new post right in their email inbox).

2. Start with your own employees. Don’t forget, your employees are your best evangelists. Arm them with the information they need to share your blog posts with their friends, colleagues, and families. Maybe it’s a sample tweet or Facebook update along with a bit.ly link to the post. Or, maybe it’s a simple reminder on your intranet each week with that week’s posts. Either way, make sure you share blog posts regularly with your internal teams.

3. Take advantage of speaking engagements. Whether you speak at a conference or at a PTA meeting, you have an opportunity to market your blog. After all, all your speakers need to do is include the blog URL in the presentation deck and work a mention of it gently into his or her speech. Minimal effort with a potentially huge impact.

4. Insert the blog URL into your email signature. It’s simple, but you’re looking to build the blog into your comprehensive marketing approach. Keep in mind that by inserting your blog URL into your email different audiences will get a glimpse of your blog, including audiences—vendors, analysts, journalists, etc.—you may not have been targeting.

5. And…integrate your blog into ALL of your operations. I’m not simply talking about adding your blog to your website, but instead integrating your blog into your actual operations.  Beyond including a link to your blog in your email signature, include the URL on all organizational communications, meeting agendas (“Let’s continue to keep the lines of communications open—follow ABC Organization’s blog at www.abc.org!”), business cards, outgoing voicemail messages, and more.

Want more ideas?  Here are 16 LOW- and NO-cost ways to market your blog!

16 LOW- and NO-Cost Ways to Market Your Blog

Marketing your blog doesn’t have to be a high-cost adventure.  In fact, taking advantage of each of your organization’s touch points offer a number of low- and no-cost opportunities to market your blog.  Here are a few ideas to get you started!

  1. Insert the blog URL into your email signature. It’s simple, but you’re looking to build the blog into your comprehensive marketing approach. Keep in mind that by inserting your blog URL into your email different audiences will get a glimpse of your blog.
  2. And…integrate your blog into ALL of your operations. Beyond including a link to your blog in your email signature, include the URL on all organizational communications, meeting agendas (“Let’s continue to keep the lines of communications open—follow ABC Organization’s blog at www.abc.org!”), business cards, outgoing voicemail messages, and more.
  3. Put a sign in your organization’s/school’s office window or announcements area (or bulletin board) to promote your blog.
  4. Include a blog link and a call-to-action in everyone’s email signature file. Make sure that you can change these signature file URLs centrally.
  5. Have a sign-up sheet at your organization’s/school’s meetings to collect email information by hand. Don’t forget to simultaneously gain permission to contact signees.
  6. Create a handout for visitors/meeting attendees using a few of your best how to articles as a take one in your place of business.
  7. Identify a volunteer of the week and promote them using your blog. Recognizing volunteers is also a great way to retain volunteers!  Provide background information about why the person was selected—this individual and their friends will certainly share this announcement via their social media and email channels. (Just remember to get people’s permission.)
  8. Promote the blog via customer service using mentions on written emails and phone hold messages.
  9. Include a blurb about your blog on customer facing materials.
  10. Ask partners to promote your blog. PTA, boosters, business partners…and, remember this should be a two way street. You need to offer to help their promotion efforts in return. Coordinate efforts!
  11. Make a decorative sign promoting your blog and its URL. Hang it in a critical area with a lot of traffic like a conference room or, even, the restrooms.
  12. Place a computer in a public place in your location so customers can check out your blog and register for emails.
  13. Write a column for a local newspaper that helps build interest in your product and your expertise. For example, an “Ask the Principal” feature can answer readers’ questions. Include a mention of your blog in your column bio with a link back to your blog.
  14. Work with a local business. For example, you can offer a series of talks or demonstrations related to your organization’s offering and use the opportunity to promote the blog through their communications channels.
  15. Offer to help one or more of your local houses of worship and cross promote your blog through their communications vehicles.
  16. Use other tools creatively to promote your organization/school. Ifyouspend a lot of time in your local Starbucks, why not put a URL with an attention getting sign on your computer so people see it as they pass by?

We like to give credit where credit’s due, and inspiration from this blog post was drawn from Heidi Cohen’s “24 Ways to Promote Your Blog With NO Budget, NO Time & NO Resources”.  Read the full blog here.

10 Tips for Starting a Principal’s Blog and Keeping It Strong

BlogBlogging is increasingly becoming a popular communication tool for principals and administrators.  Unlike the “Principal’s Corner” in your school’s weekly bulletins, blogs allow for immediate communications, sharing of photos and videos, and more.  Here are 10 useful tips on how to keep the lines of communications open through engaging and inspirational blogs.

1. Work in WordPress.

WordPress is the most popular, most versatile blogging platform available. Plus, it’s pretty easy to use, and it can be added fairly easily to your existing website. Some experts recommend against using Blogspot or Blogger, as they’re not as user-friendly as WordPress is.  Keep your blog professional, clean and easy-to-read.

2. Brainstorm.

Side aside time to come up with ideas for blog posts—even writing some in advance.  Try to come up with 15-20 ideas at a time. Inspiration can come from interesting conversations, issue areas, articles you’ve read, current events, and more.  Read other blogs written by other principals for inspiration (follow and comment on them, too!).

3. Concentrate on high-quality content.

“Strive to provide readers with tips and advice that can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet,” says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of personal finance blog MoneyCrashers.com.  This is even true for principals’ blogs—think about what matters to parents when it comes to their child’s education: homework help, the Common Core standards, behavior, internet safety…the list goes on. Draw upon your past experiences as a principal to provide unique and insightful commentary, and focus on quality over quantity. A simple “5 Tips for Helping Your Child With Math” will be met with more enthusiasm than a long post about the intricacies of the Common Core Standard.

4. Use photos and videos

Schools have the best source of photos and videos—kids enjoying learning, being active, playing musical instruments, doing art, conducting a science experiment…the list goes on!

5. Post several times a week…okay, at least once a week

If you don’t publish regularly, you risk suffering from “Dead Blog Syndrome,” says speaker, author, and marketing consultant Thom Singer. Google and other search engines highly value fresh content. “When someone finds your blog and your most recent post is weeks, months, or years old, they do not assume you are committed to your projects,” Singer says. As a principal, you’re busy, so several blog posts a week may not be possible–try to aim for at least once a week.  Better yet, using the inspiration from Tip #2, above, write several posts in advance and that way, you’ll be able to post more than once a week!

6. Market your blog.

Tell your PTA, site employees, community partners, parents, and others about your blog through social media, email, regular communications, commenting on other blogs and even writing guest posts for other blogs (and including a link to your own blog).  Your blog posts should be a regular part of your social media updates.

7. Make a list.

Blogs with lists are a great way to attract and engage readers, and they’re an easy way to deliver valuable information in a succinct format.

8. Stray away from “all business, all the time.”

Non-business posts—ones that share thoughts about family and friends—are well-received because they show your human side.  Keep a positive tone, and try to keep non-business posts to a few times each month (versus a few times a week!).

9. Avoid politics.

Education is a political business-from budgets to the Common Core, politics infiltrates everything in education….except for your blog.  Whether or not you love or hate the Common Core, teacher tenure, or the latest collective bargaining updates are not content ideas for your blog. With that being said, generating support for your district’s bond measure through your blog?  That would be a good thing.  But, use the context of how the bond measure will directly help YOUR school and YOUR students—personalizing the information will go a long way in generating community support.

10. Share the workload.

Two words: Guest bloggers.  One source: Your school—PTA president, National Board Certified Teachers (they lend a certain expertise to education-related matters), your school’s PE teacher, the school nurse, your school counselor, the district’s food services director.  The list goes on—you have so many experts in “your own house” and so many topics they can lend to valuable blog posts. We always believe in giving credit where credit’s due—this blog was inspired by an article on PR Daily.  See the full article here.

Want more blogging tips?  Follow Sounding Board’s Social Media blog!

5 articles to help you boost, fix, or improve online engagement

I love learning new things (or getting an affirmation that old things continue to work) to help fix and improve the ways I do my work.  These are some recent PR Daily articles that I found particularly useful for boosting, fixing or improving online engagement:

30 Tweets in 30 Days

It might seem daunting to create a month’s worth of tweets, but really, when it comes down to it, so much of the content is already at your fingertips!  I’m a big believer in two things: 1) NOT reinventing the wheel (seriously, who has time to create new content for every online and/or print medium?!) and 2) message consistency.  Your audiences will read your organizations’ messages in a variety of different formats, and you will reach many (if not most) of your audience members in different ways–email, your organization’s website, social media, video, and any of your other communication mediums.  Therefore, you need to ensure that you are carrying your organization’s messages across each of your communication mediums.  

So, here are a few easy ways to create 30 tweets in 30 days:

  • Turn your organizational newsletter into an internal blog and give employees the ability to contribute. Link tweets to articles in the newsletter.
  • Identify which stories will be best shared via video—and work with students and other audience members on creating those videos.  Link teaser tweets to these videos.

Utilize the rule of thirds:

  • 1/3 of your content should promote your organization (calendar updates, board meetings, new student registration, other matters that are “organizational business”).  So, over 30 days, create 10 tweets that link to this information.
  • 1/3 of your content should be evidence of your organization supporting similar or like-minded businesses/organizations. Identify key partners that can help share your messages—and work with these partners on identifying which messages your organization will share.  Over 30 days, share 10 tweets that help leverage your partners’ news.
  • 1/3 of your content should be related to the “heart and soul” stories of your organization.  Find 10 ways to highlight how employees, students, and volunteers contribute to the mission of your organization.

Remember to time your content! Create a calendar that spells out what you’re going to say and when you’re going to say it, and align this calendar with organizational activities/initiatives.

For more inspiration, check out my blog post on “5 Social Media Content Ideas Readers Love” http://sounding-board.net/5-social-media-content-ideas-readers-love

6 Easy Ways to Build Your Organization’s Social Media Following

Building your organization’s social media following is comprised of activities that should be part of your overall social media strategy, and occur on an ongoing basisRemember, relationship-building and nurturing is not a one-time activity!  These are six easy ways to build your organization’s social media following, which will, in turn, also build your social media presence.

1.    Cover the basics. Make sure the bios/profiles for your social media accounts are complete. They should include clear and concise descriptions of your organization, your organization’s logo and your website URL.

2.    Share the news — and make sure yours gets shared! Retweet and share posts from others that you are following. And make sure you have sharing buttons on your content (blogs, news posts on your website, and of course, on your social media accounts).

3.    Promote your social media presence. Add social media badges (icons) to your organization’s website, blog, email signature, on your business cards, in your storefront and in email marketing.

4.    Make sure your content is interesting, useful, and interactive. Use photos, videos, write about engaging topics that leverage your expertise, and find ways to interact with your followers.

5.    Provide some exclusive offers to your followers.  Whether you’re a school and you offer free spirit items to the “next 20 followers” that comment and share a photo that you post, or a non-profit, and you offer an exclusive discount on your next event to the “next 10 followers” that share/comment on your status update, make sure that you are asking your followers to take an action (or actions) that helps build your following and social media presence, while providing a valuable exclusive offer that builds your brand.

6.    Network in person and online! Go to Tweet Ups, networking events, and other events in your market niche (or, better yet, start your own networking event/Tweet Up for those in your niche!). Find and follow partners, donors, supporters and others that support your organization’s mission via social media searches.

Check out Sounding Board Marketing & Communications’s Savvy Social Media Guide and Video for more tips on how to harness the power of social media to advance your organization’s goals!  Need help with developing your organization’s social media strategy or presence?  Contact us for more information about our social media services.

5 Social Media Content Ideas Readers Love

One of the biggest mistakes that marketing and PR people (or those who wear that hat) make for their organizations is pumping out website and social media content that I roughly define as content that “makes their organization look good” but isn’t necessarily interesting to readers.

One of the biggest challenges of social media is developing constant content that compels followers to come back for more.

Many education and non-profit organizations are challenged to come up with ideas of how to create this type of content, so, using some inspiration from a recent ragan.com article highlighting 20 content ideas readers love (you can read them here).  I’ve narrowed down the list to just five content ideas that will resonate with your education and non-profit audiences:

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10 Ways to use Instagram and Pinterest to Market Your Organization

Photo-based Instagram and Pinterest have built followings based on the compelling, fun and interesting photos posted by users…and in Pinterest’s case, providing decorating, clothing and other sources of inspiration to its millions of users.

Corporations to small businesses are boosting their brand identities and expanding their reach using these free services…why can’t your district, COE or non-profit organization?  Your brand is about great programs that advance important outcomes—education, interventions to help students be successful, making learning fun, great teachers, great staff members, improving a social good, and more.  I’d be willing to bet that there are hundreds of photo opportunities each day.  And with Instagram’s availability on just Apple iOS and Android mobile phones, your photos are available to quickly build awareness and loyalty in a personalized approach.

Here are just a few tips* how you can use Instagram and Pinterest to take your organization’s marketing and communications to the next level.

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