- General Best Practices
Twitter has certainly come a long way since it first launched in 2006. A few of Twitter's defining moments included the first time a hashtag was used shortly after its launch ten years ago, the first time breaking news was released on Twitter with the Hudson River plane landing in 2009 (that has now changed the way news is reported today), and the effects it’s made on marketers by allowing them to reach audiences more quickly and strategically.
Today it's becoming a platform for conversation, engagement, advertising all in real time. The social network, which emerged as a way to share up-to-the-minute updates, is slowly transitioning into a "customer service platform" for businesses and schools. For schools specifically, this means that engagement, responding to tweets, and engaging with followers will no longer be an option but an expectation, as users will seek to use the platform to get answers. This makes Twitter a highly valuable social media communication tool.
But, Twitter's popularity — evidenced by its steady growth in users — frequency of tweets, and algorithms, makes Twitter strategy for schools a bit of a hurdle. Frequent, visual, personalized and engaging posts are essential, but without a dedicated social media manager, can be difficult to achieve.
SOME BENEFITS OF USING THE PLATFORM FOR YOUR SCHOOL MARKETING EFFORTS INCLUDE:
- Being able to view who is talking about your school or district
- Staying on top of trending topics, both locally and globally
- Easily finding content from similar schools and districts like yours for content inspiration
- Involving your school community, including faculty, staff, and leaders
- Engaging your community easier through branded hashtags
- Responding to questions from community members
- Creating multiple accounts for athletics (note: this is a strategy to be used strategically. Typically, we recommend one account per network, but because Twitter is a news platform, some schools greatly benefit by creating accounts for athletics and even admissions.)
- Having the ability to pin the most important tweet/post to the top of your profile’s feed
Like all social media platforms, there are important best practices to follow to build a strong following, build engagement, and contribute to a successful social media strategy.
Here are some important Twitter terms you should know to understand how to optimize your engagement in the platform.
@Mention: This term is defined for when you tag another account in a tweet. This helps with conversations on the platform as it informs the account when you mention it.
DM: This is the acronym for "direct message," which is a private message between two Twitter users. It’s different than a public @mention because in order to send a DM, the recipient must follow you. This can be useful if you are trying to help someone in your school community answer a question privately on Twitter.
RT: This is the acronym for “retweet,” which is when you can re-share someone else’s tweet onto your school’s profile. This is useful when members of your school community are posting content that you want to share on the school’s account.
Consider these strategies for using Twitter in your school or district’s social media strategy.
1. Create, use, and promote branded hashtags
Branded hashtags represent your school's overall brand and personality or a particular campaign, and can play a key role in engagement and conversation on social media platforms like Twitter. Using branded hashtags in your tweets is an easy way to begin and maintain a conversation with followers and start a conversation around what’s most important to your school or district
Choate Rosemary Hall is on point when it comes to using branded hashtags strategically. They incorporate their unique hashtags in nearly every one of their tweets, such as this one highlight the acceptance season from the spring with their commonly used hashtags #choosechoate, #gochoate, and #choatemoment.
Hashtags are not only a great source on Twitter, but when you create branded hashtags, you can use them across all of your social networks to unify your brand and content. Then, you can use a tool like Finalsite Feeds is to bring hashtagged content automatically into your website. Finalsite makes it easy to incorporate your social media content, like Twitter, into your website with Finalsite Feeds. With Feeds, you’re able to promote the content you’re already posting on Twitter but on your website, as well as monitor which content is being pulled into your website.
Ellington Public Schools has a beautiful feed right on their homepage that pulls in all the associated Twitter accounts under the school, including those from different departments, faculty, and staff.
Because hashtags are searchable on Twitter, it is easy to track the engagement of your branded hashtag. Low engagement may signify your hashtag is too long or has not been promoted effectively. However, some schools really hit the nail on the head.
Another added benefit of using hashtags is this can help you generate authentic content from your followers. With this, you will see a spark in engagement and have the opportunity to share free user-generated content from your community.
We love how Holy Ghost Preparatory School retweeted this post from the school’s president from their back to school night, which tagged the school’s account and branded hashtag.
Free Resource: Hashtag Cheat Sheet For Your Social Media Campaigns
2. Make original, branded graphics
Because showcasing your brand with visual content is important invest time in creating branded graphics for big events at your school. Using tools like Canva and Photoshop make it easy to add branded colors, logos, and more to photos like many of these schools have done.
Twitter is a great place to incorporate branded images, especially if they go hand-in-hand with your branded hashtags. This will help bring your brand to the social media network and unify the content you’re posting.
Grand Rapids Christian Schools does a beautiful job creating branded graphics for their Twitter feed. By using similar fonts and incorporating their logo in the photos, they successfully share branded but professional looking visual content.
3. Incorporate Photo, Video and Live Video for Engaging Visual Content
Even though Twitter increased the allowed character limit from 140 to 280 last fall, that doesn’t mean you should just rely on just text to get engagement on your tweets. In fact, tweets with images, videos and GIFs perform better than those without, so this is generally a good best practice to follow.
Video has become increasingly popular on social media especially with audiences like millennials. Since 82% of Twitter users watch video content on the platform, it’s become a best practice to incorporate video into your social media content.
Burlington Schools, in particular, does a great job retweeting video from members of its school community.
Concerned about not having enough time or budget to create professional video campaigns, but understand offering video content is important? Consider trying live video. Streaming live video, especially from your smartphone, is easy with Twitter’s step by step guide. There are also other tools you can use other than your smartphone to go live on the platform. You can use Periscope to "Go Live," free of charge. When you're done "going live," you have the choice to save the video in your feed or remove it — so it can act as additional content right on your feed.
4. Keep Up with Twitter Trends
Twitter has become the platform around trends. A great addition to your social media strategy is fun social media holidays seen on Twitter (many social media tools offer free holiday calendars to use so you know when these trendy days will be).
The Agnes Irwin School recently celebrated a relevant social media holiday #NationalLiteracyDay, in which they were able to tie back to the mission of the all-girls independent school. Plus, they were able to incorporate one of their student’s back to the trending holiday— well done!
GIFs are another example of a fun, trendy approach to tweeting as a new way to show expression with tweets. How accurate is this tweet from Portsmouth Abbey School featuring a hilarious GIF? You don’t always have to be serious on social media — don’t be afraid to incorporate some humor into your school’s post as well. This can lighten up your brand and make it fun to use social media.
Additionally, emojis are now almost everywhere - texting, email marketing, and social media - using them will make your school profile seem more personable to its followers.
Berkshire School does a great job incorporating emojis that relate to the content of the tweets themselves.
5. Consider the frequency and timing of your school's tweets
According to research, the best time of day to tweet for highest retweets is around 5pm. The highest click-through-rate (CTR) is between 12pm and 6pm. This makes sense as it's typically around the time your followers may be taking breaks, ending the school/work day, commuting home, etc. You should be tweeting multiple times throughout the day regardless to reach your followers at different peak hours — at least 3 times a day.
6. Use Twitter Analytics
An added bonus to using Twitter is it offers a free analytics dashboard to track how your tweets are performing, including the number of impressions, profile visits, mentions, and followers. Analytics allow you to see which content resonates with your audience the best and understand and learn more about your followers. You're able to see which tweets performed better than others, how well you're engaging with your audience, and use these tools as a way to improve your future tweets and content strategy.
For example, if you had one tweet that performed very well, you may want to reproduce that content, or even try tweeting more at that same time. Because analytics don't tell you why something worked, you'll have to do some experimenting to figure that out on your own!
7. Engage With Your Followers Promptly and Appropriately
Twitter is really one of the best social media platforms to have conversations with your followers because it easy to respond and interact through DMs, retweets, or replies. This means you shouldn’t have a mention, tweet, or DM go unanswered! (And in general, this is good best practice on all social media.)
In addition to responding to followers, with permission reshare a piece of content from them on your own feed to allow your followers and community to be just as part of telling your school’s story on Instagram as you are.
If you have multiple individuals managing your Twitter account, make sure that you have a social media policy in place that outlines best practices and tactics for replying to positive and negative comments. In most cases, schools and districts hesitate to answer the tough questions publically, but is almost always the “right” thing to do.
8. Create Multiple Accounts Where Appropriate
It’s a question we get asked all the time: Can we create more than one account on a social media network for our school? Our lacrosse coach really wants their own account! Students want their clubs to have accounts! Departments want their own accounts!
This is something that can get out of hand...quickly. Our rule of thumb: One social media account per network — especially on Instagram and Facebook. Creating numerous accounts splits traffic and tells a disconnected story on these two platforms in particular.
But Twitter...well, Twitter is a bit of a wildcard! Because Twitter is a news platform, some schools greatly benefit by creating accounts for athletics to share game scores, athlete highlights, play by play, etc — tweets that might clutter your school’s main Twitter account.
For example, St. Ignatius College Preparatory, a school highly known for its athletics, does this very well, and ensures the appropriate kind of content is shared from respective accounts based on their target audiences.
Twitter has now become an essential tool for any school’s social media strategy. It allows multiple departments to collaborate on content, share news and events in real time, and engage with your school community more easily.
If you’re new to Twitter or may be looking for some guidance with how to use social media in part of your overall school marketing strategy, our experts can work with you based on your goals!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Events Marketing Manager, Stephanie is passionate about sharing what's happening at Finalsite with all school professionals. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and brings a fresh perspective for marketing with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. Stephanie enjoys helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments.
- Social Media