- Your community is on social media now more than ever.
- If you’re not utilizing social media to communicate with students, stakeholders, and staff, you’re not using a potentially valuable tool.
- In the “new world” of COVID-19, people are turning to social media even more. You should be there.
- There is so much value in simply listening to your community.
- Find out where they spend time, research those platforms, be safe, and start communicating.
I feel like I start all my social media-related posts the same way: telling you that your district should be on social media (here’s one from 2 years ago). I’d love to say my stance on social media has changed…it hasn’t. I think I now believe it more than ever.
Regardless of whether you “like” social media, or if you currently use it or not, the majority of your students, stakeholders, staff, and community members use it. And chances are, they’re using it more now than ever before. Studies estimate that around 3.6 billion people use social media, and that number is projected to grow to 4.4 billion by 2025.Your community is sharing so much information with you on a day by day, minute by minute basis, that you should always have a pulse on where they are at and what you need to be thinking about. The question is, are you listening? Click To Tweet
With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping many people at home, people are spending even more time online, and on social media. In fact, at of the time of writing this, social media users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day multi-networking across an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps. Yes, 8 different platforms. Facebook’s daily traffic is up 27+%. Twitter usage is up. Twitch usage is up. YouTube usage is up. And yes, TikTok usage is up.
Why social media is more important than ever.
Over the past few months, our world has been through a lot. As we’ve had to adjust our lives to spend less time running around, going shopping, dining out, and being away from our homes, naturally we’re looking for other ways to stay connected with each other.
Social media has proven to be the solution for many. Even businesses are having to address the importance of social media and adapt their sales techniques to reach people sat on their phones and not out and about shopping. For example, these businesses might choose to buy automatic Instagram likes and followers, to start up a popular Instagram account to sell their products. Large engagement (shown in the number of likes) on a post, will lead to organic interest on their account and therefore raise the number of sales for their company.
We’ve used it for years to stay up to date on our friends and family. Now, with our limited ability to see others in person, social media has become the new backyard BBQ, Facebook watch parties are the new movie theater, and video calls are the latest first date location.
So why do I think social media is more important than ever for school administrators right now? Because everyone you need to communicate with is on it. And if they weren’t already there, or they weren’t already spending a lot of time on it, they are now. It’s where people get their news, get updates on the coronavirus, and look for the latest information on what is going on with your school district.
Make social media-related decisions with stakeholders in mind.
Instead of creating yet another channel of communication that people need to access, why not use what they’re already on? They’ve got Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in front of their eyes every day. Let’s just put the right information on those platforms so we can remind them that we’re here for them, update them with any new changes or adjustments in schedules, and possibly most important, listen to them.
People share on social media. They express their frustrations, their worries, and their anger there. As a school administrator, this is priceless data you can use to help plan your next adjustments, avoid additional missteps, and know when it’s time to address an issue.
Your community is sharing so much information with you on a day by day, minute by minute basis, that you should always have a pulse on where they are at and what you need to be thinking about.
The question is, are you listening?
And once you listen, are you utilizing the right platforms to ensure they see updates and solutions to their concerns? Chances are, the right platform is a social media platform. I’d love to tell you which one that is for you and your school district, but I can’t. That needs to come from listening as well.
Ask your stakeholders where they spend their time, then communicate there. That doesn’t mean you don’t continue to use the classics like email and phone calls. I’m just saying you need to bring these platforms into the mix as well.[scroll down to keep reading]
How you can get started today.
I’m not going to flood you with a hundred different suggestions here. Instead, here are 6 steps to get started:
- Work with your leadership team to ensure your district has a solid social media policy in place.
- Talk to your community; find out what they are using and research those platforms.
- Make sure you understand the privacy policies and settings, and get your profiles, pages, or groups set up.
- Create a consistent communication schedule, including what you will communicate, how often, and in what medium (text only, images, video, etc).
- Invite your community in. Share with them how you will be using it. Let them know what they can expect to see from you, what information they will receive here, and that you’re looking to converse with them.
- Start listening. Pay attention to what your community is saying; the good and the bad. Then use that data to engage in conversations with your leadership team to address issues or enhance positives.
Yes, I am fully aware that I just made that sound super simple. The truth is, it is fairly simple. Once you make sure you’re being safe, it’s just communication. Update, inform, and listen.
And if you need any help with any part of this, let me know. I’m here for you.
About Jeff Gargas
Jeff Gargas is the COO and co-founder of the Teach Better Team, and co-author of the Teach Better book. Prior to co-founding Teach Better Team, Jeff was the owner of ENI Multimedia, an online marketing firm, where he worked with entrepreneurs and small businesses, assisting them with web design, social media, content marketing, and brand awareness.
Prior to all of this, Jeff was an adjunctive professor at Kent State University and spent 10+ years in the music industry. He has spoken at conferences around the country, and has successfully promoted more than 500 events and launched 7 businesses in a variety of industries.
Jeff is passionate about music, and enjoys spending time with his family as often as possible. He is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.