7 ways to use social media to enhance your school’s events and increase engagement
So you’ve managed to get over the first hurdle and you’ve set up some social media channels for your school. Now it’s time to put them to good use and social media is a great opportunity to show off all the exciting events happening at your school. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Know your audience
First and foremost, you need to gauge who you want your channels to reach and why. Some audience research can help you define how you will use your social media content to engage with your chosen audience. This will help you push out content that your audience will actually want to see and interact with. We’ve recently written a blog post about different audience research methods if you would like to find out more about this topic.
2. Use eye-catching imagery
Using images on social media will not only help with the storytelling process of an event, but can boost the engagement of posts. The chart below shows your just how much of a difference images can make on Twitter posts:
With the technology available on smartphones, taking good images wherever we are is straightforward. Access to a better quality camera can help, but smartphones often do the job just as well for quick social media coverage of an event. Be selective about the amount of images you upload to an album or a post. Does your audience really need to see 20 images of the same view?
Below is an example from the Head Teacher of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Geoff Barton, whose pupils and staff took part in their own election. The images provide more of the feel to the event:
— Geoff Barton (@RealGeoffBarton) May 7, 2015
Using images on social media is also a nice way of sharing your students’ work, particularly useful if your school event includes an art exhibition or science fair. Not only does it show the standard of work being created at your school, but students (and parents) will be proud to see their work celebrated on your school’s social feed.
It’s important to remember to check with your school what the guidelines are for taking photos before anything is shared online. Although there’s not specifically a law against photographing anyone in public, getting the permission from parents could save complaints further down the line.
3. Live stream and post live updates from your events
You can widen your reach by showcasing your event live to your social media audience. Live streaming your events has been made a lot easier thanks to mobile apps like Periscope and Meerkat, which allow you to film your events and stream them directly to your Twitter feed. The most recent update from Meerkat now lets you post directly to Facebook too. Think carefully about the kind of content your audience will want to see to avoid posting boring streams of video. Here are a few ideas for content…
- The end of term production from the drama department
- The leavers’ assembly – we know a lot of universities have success from filming their graduations.
- Music concerts, talent shows and charity events
- Interesting debates from your debating society
Build some awareness before you stream to make sure your audience knows when and how to tune in.
Sending out live updates from events is another good way to include anyone who couldn’t make the event. Be aware of the platform you are posting too (Twitter is the most accepted platform for live updates) and don’t overload people with too much content. If you’re holding a sports day in school hours, it is quite likely that a lot of parents will be at work. Posting the latest result and pictures from the day will make parents feel a part of the action, even if they are not there. For school trips, give parents the option to stay updated via social media. Stick to one channel to avoid confusion and cross-posting. A quick tweet to say the plane has landed safely in Spain or that the bus is going to be an hour late home could spare a lot of worried phone calls to the school reception.
4. Start a conversation
Creating a hashtag for a school trip or a large event is an easy way to collate of all the media from that experience. When picking a hashtag, make sure it’s short, memorable and relates to the event. Additionally, check your hashtag isn’t already in use by simply typing into the Twitter search engine. If the hashtag has already been used, check and see how long ago it was in use and the type of content that was being tweeted about, then make a decision from there.
Plan ahead and let people know about the hashtag you’re using in advance. Promoting the hashtag before the event will allow as many people as possible to join the conversation about your event. Promote it through your social media channels, add it on to any event marketing materials and mention it in school communications such as email or the newsletter. Here’s an example from North Bridge House School in London, who created a hashtag for their school trip to Morocco.
— North Bridge House (@NBHSchool) March 24, 2015
5. Curate your event
When you’ve set up a hashtag, it’ll be easier for you to see any content produced by people talking about your event online. Sometimes the best photos or video will come from those attending the event – so make use of it. You could set up a Storify page where you can collect all the best posts and images from the event in one place.
We’ve got some great advice about curating content in our recent blog posts on curation. Have a read and get some inspiration.
6. Add depth to your event
Add depth by using social media to support your school’s educational events. Politics students at Dame Alice Owen’s School (DAOS) in Potters Bar used Twitter to educate the rest of the school about the general election. DAOS versions of the Conservatives, Labour, Green Party and the Liberal Democrats were all represented on Twitter, posting about party policies, lunchtime debates and articles around the election, all building up to a school vote. Marketing posted around the school featured the event hashtag #DAOSGE2015 and encouraged other students to take part.
Let's continue the hard work. Let's stick to the plan that's working. Vote Conservative & Britain will be Great again pic.twitter.com/510Yw0xQdF
— DAOS Conservatives (@DaosTories) April 29, 2015
Head of Politics, Oriana Cornejo-Gutierrez, explained the success of the event. She said, “The mock election was highly educational and the Twitter accounts got students talking about the different policies that had been discussed in the lunchtime debates and consequently tweeting their own opinions.”
7. Analyse your event
Use the analysis tools provided by Facebook and Twitter to see what worked and didn’t work for previous events. These tools give you a great (and free) insight to the levels of engagement of your social posts. If short and snappy videos appear to be attracting a lot of retweets, try that same tactic again at another event, but remember to always continue to mix your content types up though otherwise you’ll never know when this level of engagement changes. Every school is different. What works for one school, may not work for your institution, so keep an eye on the activity around your event. Store your measurement results in a spreadsheet to refer back to when planning for your social media for another event.
— Rosie Wowk (@RosieWowk) February 11, 2015
Promoting and documenting your events on social media will not only be interesting to current families but also it give you a chance to showcase all the fantastic events to your prospective families who may be interested in the future. So be brave and add that extra dimension to your school event.
If you need any help with your school’s social media or anything else, please drop us a line.