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.

How To Streamline Internal Communication–Starting Today

Email InboxThis past weekend, I spent a couple of hours talking with new teachers during a Communication Confidence Boosters workshop and “Throw Your Communication Challenges At Me” Q&A session.

First, I was absolutely floored by the number of teachers participating in their own professional development after what was likely the first week of launching distance education for many of them.  They are true rockstars!

Next, when one teacher asked how she could organize and prioritize the “hundreds of district emails” in her in-box—and the affirmation of the other teachers who related—I realized that internal communication in a lot of organizations is likely looking like my personal email in-box: like a bunch of people yelling at me telling me that their message is important.

Although I gave this teacher some advice on how to filter and organize her in box so that she could at least see parent emails first—and then create priorities and timelines around when she could check the other emails—the truth is, your internal audiences should not need to spend hours setting up email filters and in box folders to organize and prioritize your messages.  That’s a late 1990’s/early 2000’s thing. Don’t get me wrong–organizing your email inbox is a must, however, with your internal communications,  your organization should be doing this through integrated, organized, strategic and concise messaging.

Remember what I’ve said before? More communication is not better. More communication means that you’re making your audience choose what they want to read and open.

Better communication filters out the noise and hones in on the most important messages. More communication means that you’re asking audience members to read to wordy messages, long videos and poorly messaged content to determine whether what they read and saw was important, or if it was just a “fluffy message filler.”

Better communication puts the information succinctly in one place, and prioritizes the messaging. 

So how can you accomplish this?  Simply–put the information in one spot for the employee.  And keep messages brief and to-the-point.  Here are a few suggestions:

Employee Newsletter

An employee newsletter is a great way to put all the information you need to send to employees in one place.

  • Frequency: Aim to send the newsletter 1-2 times a week.
  • Length: Your newsletter should be no longer than 1-1.5 printed pages.  The key is to hone in on key information.  Provide links to more detailed information on your website, where necessary, but not in every single story.
  • Format: NOT a pdf download.  If you make people open an email, then download a pdf to read your newsletter, you’ve lost at least 50% of your audience. There are several online email programs that provide easy-to-use, attractive formats.  Constant Contact and MailChimp are a couple of popular email programs.  And, depending on the number of email address in your organization, you may even be able to use their free versions. These programs also allow you to look at open rates, and link click through rates, which is a wonderful way to track how many of your emails are being opened and which links people are clicking on for more information.
  • Include a couple of pictures (not clip art, but pictures of real employees, or from school sites) where relevant.
  • Because of the frequency, it’s key to ensure that the information is timely, and to organize information around the timing of the newsletter’s delivery.
Employee Intranet

Over the past few years, there has been a small rise in the use of employee intranets (closed internal communications network), though the use of Google Drive has also served this need.

  • Pros: It’s streamlined. An employee intranet gives your employees one place to access shared drives and information.  You can post important employee-only calendar events (versus posting them on your public-facing events calendar), reminders that can be integrated with email, and notifications.  Many organizations have multiple ways that employees must obtain this information, and anything that requires an employee to log in to multiple platforms to obtain information basically reduces the chance that the employee will log in and see that information.  So, if you want success with your employee interfaces, then look at one place they need to log in.
  • Cons: They can be costly and somewhat time consuming to set up.  However, the employee time saved and the opportunity to ensure that they are seeing and sharing your messages is worth the up front costs. Here’s a link to a great article that outlines Employee Intranet: 40 Reasons Why Every Business Needs One.
Employee Texts

If you have employees who do not regularly use email, but do have an employer-issued phone, consider sending brief texts intended just for those employees.  Obviously, they don’t need all the tech-related updates relevant to distance education, but they still need to be kept in the loop.

Employee Phone Messages

You may have some employees who are not working right now who usually receive information via district mail or on a bulletin board.  It’s important to keep them engaged and informed about important matters.  Utilize your organization’s phone messaging program (if you have one) or ask directors and managers to reach out to these employees individually to provide them the latest updates (and to check in on them if they’re personally calling each employee).

Need help setting up strategic and streamlined internal communications, or need some advice on how to do so?  Give us a call at 916.673.8868 or send us an email.  We’ll get you up and going within the day on an email communication, employee phone messages and texts, or can refer you to great employee intranet vendors.