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!

5 Steps to Making Engaging Infographics

Person sketching out graphs for an infographicPresent Complex Information in a Snapshot Format

As your district or COE plans for the 2021-22 school year, it’s highly likely that you’re elbows-deep into complex planning processes.  But, your internal and external audiences want–and need–to know this critical information. 

Here are tips for creating infographics to share important information about your plans. Whether you need to share LCAP survey results, budget information, in-person learning plans, or more, infographics are a great and modern way to share complicated or detailed information in a way that is scannable, organized, in an all-in-one visual overview.

Here are 5 Steps to Creating Engaging Infographics:

  • Don’t overwhelm the reader: It is important to remember that less is more. Start with a simple layout of information that needs to be included. Figure out different categories of data and information. Consider what needs the most spaces and how much. Determine if the information is better organized in halves, thirds, or fourths. It is important to not overwhelm the reader. The best way to help avoid this is with an intentionally clean layout.
  • Tell a story (but it does not have to include every detail): Consider the overarching story the infographic needs to tell.
    The nature of the infographic allows for important information to be shared without every single detail being shared. Consider the layout of your infographic like a story:

    • What is the journey you want the viewer to take?
    • What will they see first, what are they prompted to do next?
    • When thinking of the layout of the infographic, consider the flow of the graphic as well as the reader’s experience as part of the storytelling process.
  • Use layers/play with fonts to have top-level information and smaller fonts to include details: A unique feature of infographics is the ability to share details. However, it is important to not overwhelm the viewer. How can a lot of information be shared in a small space?
    • Implement layers so that top-level information is in large fonts and graphics. This is the most important surface-level information the viewer needs to immediately get an understanding of what the graphic is about at just a glance.
    • Next, implement more layers of detail using colors, images, and smaller fonts that may not be seen at first glance but become noticeable as the reader looks longer at the infographic.
  • Color: Color is a central part of an information graphic where it is to grab attention, organize information, or help with brand and logo association.
    • Organization: First, consider how color can be used to organize the information in your infographic. Perhaps there are three main categories in your infographic you want to include. Choose a specific color to be associated with that category. This will help the reader to quickly identify the different sections of the infographic at a glance. If they are looking for specific information they can quickly identify the color of the topic they need and search the graphic for that color.
    • Emotion: Colors have meaning and are able to communicate different emotions. Consider not only what colors are eye-catching and appealing but use them to help communicate the feeling you want to be communicated with the information being shared. For example, blue is associated with trust. Orange can be associated with energy and yellow with happiness as just a few examples.
      The shades of color used can also help express emotion. To learn more about the best colors to use in your infographic you can explore 99 Designs blog post about Color Meanings and the Art of Using Color symbolism
    • Brand: Lastly when implementing color, the most simple but effective is to implement your district’s brand colors. This helps to quickly associate the information with the school district. You can implement different shades of your brand’s colors to bring in variety while still staying true to your district’s existing brand.
  • Use Consistent Terms: Lastly, providing clarity to the reader is the goal of the infographic.
    It is important to use consistent terms and clear organization to help the reader follow the infographic. When necessary define terms and use them throughout the infographic. This will help build understanding and increase the potential for connection.

Free–And Time-Saving–Resources

Infographics are a great way to summarize and combine complex and detailed information into a format that is easily understood and shared. To get started on implementing infographics into your district’s communications you do not need to be a graphic designer. There are a variety of Free Resources to get you started on beginning the design for your infographic:

Canva

Beautiful Ai

Google charts

Google slides

Powerpoint

 

Need more help?

If you are looking to improve your district’s communications moving forward, Sounding Board can help you reach your goals. If you are wanting to revamp your communications goals for the upcoming school year, Sounding Board offers strategic planning services to meet the needs of your district. Get started on planning for the next school year today by sharing information that matters in an easy-to-understand format for each of your audiences.

 

How to Share the Good in the Midst of the Storm 

Keeping the focus on the human side of your organization

This past school year has meant many challenges and changes. Knowing what communication is appropriate to share with your district during times of struggle or hardship can be a challenge to navigate. What messages are appropriate and timely? What are the best platforms and methods to share them? However, having the right message at the right time can make an enormous impact in the lives of individuals. How can your district work to share the good in the midst of the storm? 

There are specific kinds of content that can be a focus to create positive messages. Ultimately it is essential to keep a focus on the human side of your organization. What are the stories and individuals that make up your district? These stories are worth telling as a source of encouragement and inspiration. When the focus is put on the human side of your district to balance out the news and information stories, connection can take place in a meaningful way. 

Here are 6 tips for sharing good in the midst of the storm:

  • Focus on empathy, not information. How can your stories highlight those who are showing and expressing their empathy for others? Look internally within your organization and externally in your district to discover the positives to showcase. Through using a lens of empathy, you can find stories that show how your people are helping others in their struggles. An excellent example of this is from one of our clients, the Evergreen School District. They have a custodian who missed seeing students on campus because of distance learning.  He created and painted wooden cut outs of students playing, and placed the cut outs around the campus. These brought him cheer, and the many people who would walk over to the campus each day.  We helped them share this story on their social media and their local media, and here’s one example of the coverage they received on their local television news station.   Find messages to share that go beyond factual information. Look for stories of individuals that can create connections.
  • Try to see the larger picture while addressing the concerns of the present. It is essential to not lose sight of today’s concerns. However, your content seeks to give a larger perspective outside of the present. Address the challenges of today but do not stay stuck there. Find ways to showcase the qualities and takeaways that will be here to stay. How have teachers, students, employees overcome this current situation? How will they apply those same skills moving forward?  An excellent example of this can be found with another one of our clients, the Oroville Union High School District.  Once a week, they showcase a staff member or teacher who is providing excellent services or instruction on their social media and website, and also include these stories in their bimonthly newsletter.  This allows your audience to see that despite the challenges of the present circumstances, the people in your organization are still striving to provide an excellent education and educational experience for your students.
  • Looking outward to find ways to serve rather than feeling stuck looking inward. Encourage safe, but impactful community service and support in your district as a way to help share helpful ideas and prompt positive actions. Are there safe community service opportunities students can participate in, or opportunities that they’re harnessing to serve the community? Consider fun challenges, activities, or virtual events that individuals in your district can try that will not only serve others around them but help to prompt positive and productive experience.
  • Celebrate the little things. Look for national days, fun events, and memorable traditions to showcase on your district’s social media. There are many holidays and events that can be found online that can help bring joy and prompt light-hearted reflections throughout the month. This is a great way to create content if you are feeling stuck on the best positive stories to showcase. Finding holidays that celebrate students, employees, athletes, and others can be a positive way to celebrate individuals in your district.
  • Find ways to showcase students and alumni. Find stories from both the past and present of cute, fun, or encouraging stories of your district’s alumni. Does your district have a Hall of Fame? Use this as a starting point to share the lives and stories of those individuals on social media. This can be a positive way to showcase your district’s history while encouraging individuals in your district.
  • Utilize multiple kinds of media. Video, pictures, gifs, are all different kinds of media. This is a good way to create engaging content in multiple ways. Choosing the format and method to share a message is so important in creating messages that provide connection. Do you have images of notable alumni put together a video slide show? Do you want to have pictures of current student-athletes? Find stickers or interesting graphics to make your posts interesting and eye-catching.

Creating ways to share fun but meaningful messages that leave a positive impact is one approach to share the good in the midst of a storm. Finding ways to engage, entertain, inform, and inspire your district during times of struggle makes a large impact in your district.

Do you want help in finding positive messages to share in the midst of the storm? A Sounding board can help! Discover content planning and social media promotions that fit your district’s needs through Sounding Board’s services.

7 Step Evaluation of Why You Should Still Have a Social Media Presence

How the Pandemic Has Changed Social Media


Picture of smartphone with social media appsSocial Media Engagement

During this past year have you seen a decline in social media engagement, and are you wondering if you should continue to keep your organization present on social media? 2020 was a season where regular communication and interactions were transformed. Are individuals still active on social media? Are other forms of communication more effective for your school district or county office of education? Or is social media still an essential resource for your organization?

Social Media in 2021

In general, people are still on social media; they are just not as engaged. It is likely that your social media content is perhaps being seen, but just not interacted with. This raises the question: why does your district or COE continue to use social media as part of its communications platforms? If you are not getting the engagement you want, are there better options? A key advantage of social media is creating value through connection. It is an affordable and accessible resource that allows for relationships and interactions to take place in a unique and timely way. However, has the pandemic changed this? Do social media strategies and current practices need to be adapted? Here are 7 steps to evaluating the effectiveness of social media in your district or COE.

Define the Problem

In developing a solution to a problem it is first essential to understand fully what the problem is  Here are some ways to help define the problem:

  • What specific struggles or needs are you experiencing with your organization’s social media?  
  • Does this problem create insurmountable or expensive solutions or have a negative impact on the organization as a whole? 
  • Do current solutions to its handling of negative social media comments create a legal or public relations problem? 
  • Are you not receiving engagement on your posts? 
  • Did you have specific goals for your social media that you are not able to reach?

Defining the problem and taking a step back from the details of the situation are important in evaluating and clearly defining the problem.

Research

What is doing well on your social media, and what is struggling? Once you’ve defined the problem, then take a look at other district’s, COE’s and governmental entities that have faced this.  See if there are ways to adapt. Delve into which posts are generating the most negative comments (and the context of those comments). Determine if those are situational, such as concerts and frustrations around COVID-19 or based on other factors. Collect rules of engagement and approaches to handling negative comments. Perhaps hiding comments instead of deleting them could be an option. Are there better ways to increase positive engagement? Would implementing surveys in your Instagram stories or providing prompts, and clear calls to action help to improve immediate but helpful engagement?

The other part of the research is going back to the reasons why your organization is using social media as part of its mix of communication platforms:

  • What are your goals and what role does social media play in that? 
  • How should a social media presence be established? 
  • What are the best ways to manage negative comments? 

While social media has changed dramatically over the past decade–in good and bad ways–there is an important note that is consistent: Brand visibility can be attained through using negative comments as a customer service opportunity.  Social media presents a two-way communication opportunity with your audiences in ways that other communication media do not.

Picture of a desk with an open laptop computerBrand Visibility

One benefit to social media is growing brand visibility. Are you working to clarify your brand, rebranding, or simply looking for consistency? You are investing time and resources into your brand and it is a valuable one. One way to grow this investment is to branch into other forms of digital communication such as video and your website, each of which is promoted through your social media accounts. Social media can be a way to drive traffic and engagement to central platforms. Expanding your audience and your reach are ways to improve brand visibility.

Data

 After you clearly define the “why’s” then you should collect the data to support that.  What are the results of your social media campaigns and posts?  How has that resulted in positive outcomes for SCOE and advanced its goals?  This is so incredibly important because the data can really paint a solid picture of the impact of social media presence and use. It is through data that an accurate and realistic measurement of your social media’s impact and reach can be seen through analytics.

Compare Alternatives

Additionally, you can consider alternatives to social media. Develop some ideas, and estimate costs around how you would substitute another approach to reach your audiences in the ways that social media is already doing this. Digital media is, by far, the least expensive form of advertising and communication. Maybe your research is showing that your district’s social media presence isn’t making much of a dent into anything, and your other communication approaches are doing just fine. Develop ideas around how you will further improve and leverage those approaches. Consider tangible methods to measure and track your outcomes.

Implementation

After you’ve collected all the research, develop your case and plan. It is important to have clear rules or guidance and engagement on your social media accounts. Are you experiencing negative comments? or simply feel that content is inconsistent? Consider legal counsel for your district to be able to provide some advising on what can and cannot be deleted. While you are forming this consider implementing some new approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of these tactics. Consider mapping out tangible goals for developing content and measuring interactions on social media.

Evaluation

Evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches to rules of engagement and handling negative posts. Determine how you will define success for this. Maybe success means a reduction in negative comments, increased resolution of problems, and improved engagement during a pandemic. Having realistic and tangible goals helps in clearly measuring and evaluating success. Choosing specific kinds of engagement from likes, comments, and tags as ways to measure interaction. During a season of COVID-19, working to promote and engage connection is essential. Social media provides a space for individuals to connect where otherwise there has been separation.

Why Social Media?

One of the main goals in using social media is to develop your district’s trust. Social media is relational communication and the best way to establish a connection is through a regular and engaging way. However, it is important to consider the platforms and kinds of social media that your district is implementing. If, after compiling this self-evaluation, trust is not maintained or grown through social media then it is time to rethink some different strategies. Ultimately social media is a powerful tool that has the ability to personally touch, inspire, and inform your followers. It is important to consider the best way to implement this powerful tool. 

You Do Not Have to Do it Alone

If you are feeling stuck on moving forward with your district’s social media content and presence, Sounding Board Marketing & Communications can help. To learn more about communication services that best fit the needs of your district you can explore Sounding Board Marketing & Communications’s Strategic Services. Following these steps to evaluate your social media are just one way to improve your district’s connection and visibility in a digital world impacted by the pandemic.

8 (Easy} Ways to Use Social Media to Ring in 2021


It’s the last day of 2020, and while most of us are ready to kick this year to the curb, one of the positive things that happened this past year is the increased following and engagement on schools’ and school districts’ social media platforms.  

Welcoming the new year is a great opportunity to look back and reflect on the highlights of 2020, and also look ahead.  Here are five easy ways to use your social media platforms to ring in 2021, and close out a most challenging year in a positive way:

Student Reflections

We see so many stories in the news about what is going wrong with the pandemic–yet, studies show that expressing gratitude is healthy and is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.  What better way to share and express gratitude than through student’s reflections? Use these reflections as a series of posts that feature a quote about what students enjoyed or learned from 2020, and use a creative hashtag to group them.

Highlights Reel

Whether you put together a collection of photos in one post, or decide to kick off a “Top 10” collection of posts over the next few days, a highlight reel helps shine a light on the ways that your staff and students achieved, persevered and did their best despite the circumstances.  Some ideas include highlighting the achievements of each of the high school classes (including 2020), people who made a difference, and pictures of significant moments (virtual proms and/or graduations for example).

crossword puzzleNew Word or Phrase of the Year

With all of the changes that came from the pandemic, many districts began adopting motivational phrases like, “Stronger Together”, “We’re in This Together” and “Safe and Healthy Together”. You could kick off 2021 with a new word or phrase–or a few.  You could also create an easy crossword puzzle in Canva and ask people to find the word or words, and reply with the word(s) that they see.

 

Special Announcement

Do you have a new principal, teachers or staff members joining your school/district in January?  Did any of your staff members welcome a new child or pet over the holidays? Welcome them in a new year post!

Behind the Scenes

With so many schools doing distance learning or in person learning with masks on, students and families would love to see what their teachers and other staff members are doing outside of Zoom or from beyond their masks. What are your staff members up to during the break?  Ask them to send pictures and highlight the fun activities they’re doing with their families in a Happy New Year post or collection of posts.

Milestones

Are any of your schools or programs celebrating an important milestone in 2021? This is a great time to begin promoting and organizing the special celebrations (drive by, virtual, drive in…whatever is the safest for your community!) to commemorate it.

Motivating and Heartfelt Message

After a year of constant change and losses, a motivating and heartfelt message is a welcome respite from the information and news posts that have dominated your social media platforms. A new year is about new beginnings and the opportunities ahead, and that, while 2020 may have tested your school’s or district’s resilience, that the community is heading into 2021 stronger than ever before.  

School Updates and Improvements

Have some school updates and improvements that will greet students and staff in 2021?  Maybe a new mural was painted, a new garden was planted, or some bond measure projects were recently completed. Or, perhaps you’re breaking ground on a new project in January.  Kick off and share the progress and updates of these projects with your families on your social media!


What are some other ways you are using your district’s/school’s social media to ring in the new year?
Leave a reply below to share more ideas with our community!

 

 

Celebrating Earth Day-Even During Distance Education

50th Earth Day Logo“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
-John Muir

As a child, I have fond memories of camping and taking nature walks, and remember so many lessons I learned from my mother on those walks (Who can’t forget the “leaves of three, don’t touch me” rhyme to remember how to identify poison oak?).  My husband (a biology teacher) and I continue to enjoy the outdoors with our children, and spend most of our sunny days together in hikes and walks. For me, being outdoors, enjoying the quiet sounds of nature, is the ultimate re-set button.

With the initial introduction of online learning, one thing that is concerning a lot of parents is the amount of time that their children need to spend learning online. Earth Day is an incredible day for educators to promote outdoor education, and especially during these stay at home times, this is a great way to encourage students to get outdoors and engage in applied learning.

And, it happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day celebration! How can you encourage and promote all of this beautiful and positive outdoor learning?  Here are a few ideas:

Earth Day Challenge

Source: Earth Day Network

  • Earth Day 2020 social media campaign: Ask parents, teachers, and staff to post pictures/videos of them engaging in Earth Day activities using a unique Earth Day 2020 hashtag for your school/district.  Collect those pictures to curate into a post summarizing the ways your schools celebrated Earth Day.
  • Promote Earth Day educational activities: Everything from NASA to the National Geographic Kids to EarthDay.org and environmentally-conscious companies have activities for children to do on Earth Day.  Promote these via email and social media communications.
  • Earth Day Challenge: Ask students to draw or video how they plan to #bendthecurve on consumption, waste and pollution on engaging in daily activities (see image to the right). Post and share these photos and videos on social media throughout the week.

And, for you, as a busy superintendent, principal, communication director, or other professional, remember to get out, take a walk, and take deep breaths in nature. These are stressful times, and taking a break to reconnect with nature will do more wonders than an extra hour working ever will.

If you need a partner in your organization’s communication, or if you just want a listening ear (or sounding board!), I’m happy to help. Click here to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

 

Virtual Class of 2020 Celebration

One of the first realizations that sprung from the stay at home orders—beyond needing to buy more toilet paper—was the cancellation of the end of the year celebrations for graduating seniors. Grad walks, senior breakfasts, prom, Grad Night and of course, graduation.  These celebrations are rituals that provide for a joyful closure of thirteen years of culminating educational experiences, and final shared experiences of the senior class.Schools and school districts have been seeking ways to replace these in person experiences, delay graduation ceremonies, and still celebrate their seniors in safely distanced ways.

First, if you haven’t already, reassure your community that you are considering alternative celebrations.  (Tip: Before they start their own online petitions, crowdsource your audiences’ ideas through a survey or crowdsourcing platform like ThoughtExchange.)

Next, thanks to social media, schools and districts can hold a virtual celebration of these seniors in a number of different ways by crowdsourcing content.  As a way to congratulate and honor them, I’ve included a couple of social media post examples of real Class of 2020 seniors, below, as well.

Here are six ideas that you can begin right away!  

  • Instagram Stories: Ask seniors to send a 15 second (or less) video to use in an Instagram story.
  • Online Sourcing: Ask parents or seniors to post a their senior photo, senior door decorating and their son’s/daughter’s post-high school plans on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using a #{School Name}Classof2020 hashtag—and let them know that you’re cultivating these photos and information for a future social media post.
  • Senior Shout Out: Create a simple online form where parents can upload their senior’s picture, name, plans after graduation. From this information, create simple shout out posts for each senior with a common graphic.  Canva is a great platform with free options where you can create these graphics and resize them for each social media platform.

Class of 2020 social media celebration
CLASS OF 2020-Senior Shout Out

 

  • Diaper Ads, Re-imagined: Many yearbooks feature “diaper ads” which allow parents of seniors to submit baby/tot pictures of their graduating senior along with their senior picture, along with a brief note.  Why not create these into social media posts?  Using the online submission form approach, ask parents to submit these photos and their note to their senior, and use these to recognize seniors—they’ll get a good laugh, and probably lots of engagement.

 

CLASS OF 2020-Diaper Ad and celebration

 

 

  • Grad Thank Yous—On Video: In our town, our graduating seniors don their caps and gowns and visit their elementary schools to tell their teachers thank you, while the elementary school students look on and see what the future looks like for them.  Why not do it in a video?  Ask seniors to submit a “Thank You” video in which they’re wearing their cap and gown and thank their favorite teachers (and name the school).  Keep the time limited to 15 seconds so you can use them on Instagram stories (where most seniors are) and on Facebook (where most of your teachers are).  Put the videos together in a longer video that can be posted on your district/school’s website and emailed to staff (since all may not be on social media).
  • Grad Drive By Parade: Similar to the teacher drive by parades happening in towns across America, consider a Grad “Drive By Parade”. Seniors can wear their caps and gowns, and hold a sign with a “Thank you” to their teachers (and include their names), and ride in a car parade in their elementary school neighborhood or on a common route to their high school.  Coordination with local law enforcement might be necessary to ensure that they know when the parade will happen and on which streets, and remember to encourage people to wave from their own driveways to ensure appropriate social distancing. Make sure that someone is videoing and taking pictures of the parade so that it can be shared later on social media and on your website.

And, these ideas don’t only have to apply to graduating seniors! You can take a similar approach with your Class of 2020 8th grade, 5/6th grade and even kindergarteners that are celebrated in end-of-year promotion activities.

Need help with setting up your virtual celebrations?  Sounding Board has helped many schools and school district clients successfully manage social media, website and other content virtually and through crowdsourcing content in the ways listed above. Give us a call at 916.673.8868 or email us at hvmcgowan@sounding-board.net.

 

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.