Twitter has certainly come a long way since it first launched in 2006 — and it has been a social media trailblazer in more ways than one. The short-form posting platform was the first to introduce hashtags as a means to segment content, it was the first to have breaking news released directly on the platform, and it has completely changed the way schools reach their communities.
The culture of Tweeting has greatly influenced the rising expectations for immediacy, and schools are consequently challenged with utilizing the platform as their newsrooms, while anticipating questions from their communities (and answering them as quickly and as transparently as possible).
Seeing as Twitter is different from the other platforms in your social media lineup, your strategy for engagement needs to look different, too. To make sure you're putting your best foot forward, we put together eight tips to get your school's Twittter account refreshed.
Top 8 Twitter tips to amplify communications and engagement:
- Create, Use, and Promote Branded Hashtags
- Make Original, Branded Graphics
- Incorporate Photo, Video, and Live Video for Engaging Visual Content
- Focus on News Content
- Consider the Frequency and Timing of Your School's Tweets
- Use Twitter Analytics
- Engage With Your Followers Promptly and Appropriately
- Create Multiple Accounts Where Appropriate
Before Getting Started
If you're questioning whether Twitter is something your school or district really "needs," there are some major benefits to consider. Twitter allows you to:
- Immediately let your community know about current happenings and urgent news
- Easily monitor conversations happening about your school or district
- Stay on top of trending topics, both locally and globally
- Find content inspiration from similar schools and districts
- Cultivate a sense of community amongst your faculty, staff, and families
- Use branded hashtags as a means of content gathering
- Promptly respond to questions from your community
- Create multiple accounts for athletics as needed (a Twitter-only perk!)
Who uses Twitter?
If you ask your students this question, they may answer, "No one!" — and this is generally true for their age demographic. But for Millennials? Well, they saw this platform at its inception, and you can count on a large majority of them continuing to use it today (Hootsuite). Consider younger parents as your main Twitter audience as you build your strategy: Eighty percent of Twitter’s global population is under 50 years old, with 25-34 year olds are the biggest demographic.
Does my school need Twitter?
Because Twitter is so different from platforms like Facebook and Instagram, schools often question the usefulness of the platform for marketing and communications. Having one more platform to stay active on can be overwhelming, especially because those using the platform expect up-to-the-minute updates and responses. Consider your school's audience, goals, and your bandwidth. Twitter isn't the perfect fit for every school — and that's ok! If you're staying active and engaged on your other platforms, and you're not seeing a huge ROI from Twitter, it is totally normal to nix this platform.
Top 8 Twitter tips to amplify communications and engagement:
Branded hashtags (hashtags that are unique to your school name) represent your school's overall brand and personality, and they can play a key role in engagement and conversation. You can use these clickable tags as a way to begin and maintain engagement with members of your school or district's community.
The Woods Academy, for example, began using #WoodsWorksOn as a means to gather and Retweet content from students and families during the beginning of the 2020 pandemic. They continue to use the hashtag in reference to any great wins for the school — including the return of in-person athletics events!
YES prep used the branded hashtag #ThankAYESPrepTeacher — in tandem with the more widely used #TeacherAppreciationWeek — during May's Teacher Appreciation Week celebration. Whether on a national holiday or not, celebrating your community in this way on Twitter will help encourage engagement.
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.
As a Finalsite client, Ellington Public School uniquely uses the combination of hashtags and Finalsite Feeds to feature their Twitter content directly on their website!
Seeing as 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. You can use outside tools like ritetag.com to measure the reach of your unbranded hashtags.
Twitter is a great place to incorporate branded images, especially if they go hand-in-hand with your hashtags and content. Cohesion between your posts can do a number of things:
- It will help your account look clean and professional;
- Followers who are quickly scrolling through Twitter will more easily recognize — and, in turn, pause to engage with — your posts; and
- You will be able to use the same graphic on other channels as well, saving efforts elsewhere,
This can be accomplished even by those who are not particularly design-savvy. Tools like Canva make it easy to add branded colors, logos, and more to photos to add cohesion to your posts.
McCallie School does a great job of creating branded graphics for their Twitter feed. By using similar fonts and incorporating their logo in their photos, they successfully share branded — and professional — visual content...even for their athletics updates!
Even though Tweets allow for up to 280 characters, you should not rely on text-only posts to get engagement. Just like any other platform, incorporating visuals into your Tweets will help increase engagement, as they add an eye-catching element to stop users from scrolling by. Images, graphics, and video will all help increase your overall performance — in fact, videos have shown to garner 10x more engagement than any other media on Twitter!
De Smet Jesuit High School, for example, diligently posts video clips from their athletics events to keep their community informed and engaged.
If you're pressed for time or do not have the budget to create professional video campaigns, live video is another great outlet to experiment with on Twitter. Live streaming events, morning announcements, graduation, athletics, and more are low-planning ways to successfully reach and engage with your community. Users tend to watch live videos longer than pre-recorded videos, so it's an effective way to get your content in front of more eyes!
We call Twitter "the newsroom" for a reason. It's a great place for quick reporting, but not a great place for promotional content. For Lake Washington School District, Twitter offers a platform to share essential updates through threads. Quick news-like content like this doesn't always need to be shared on platforms that are built for fun, engaging content, like Instagram or Facebook. Twitter is the ideal place for it!
While there's plenty of research out there that may suggest posting at a certain day and time is "best," only you can define what resonates with your school community, and when.
As your virtual newsroom, Twitter has the most flexibility for the frequency of posts. We recommend that schools and districts post 3+ times per day on this platform to stay active. This means that you can test out different times for these Tweets and see what tends to receive the most engagement. With 3+ Tweets to work with each day, you're bound to find the sweet spot of engagement and work on your calendar from there!
An added bonus to using Twitter is that it offers a free analytics dashboard to track how your Tweets are performing — including the number of impressions, profile visits, mentions, and followers. Analytics will offer insight into what content resonates with your audiences so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
For example, if you had one Tweet that performed very well, you may want to reproduce that content, or even try Tweeting more often at that particular time. While Twitter Analytics won't give you a clear answer on why one post worked better over another, it does offer the insight to help you strategize!
Twitter is one of the best social media platforms to directly engage with your followers, as it is easy to respond and interact through DMs, Retweets, or replies. This means you shouldn’t have a mention, Tweet, or DM go unanswered! (This is a good best practice for all social media platforms.)
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 — however, answering directly and asking to take these conversations offline can offer the perfect balance between handling the situation and showing the larger community that you care.
This is 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!
The rule of thumb here at Finalsite: 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.
Twitter is an exception, but not the rule. Seeing as Twitter is used as a news platform, some schools greatly benefit by creating accounts for athletics to share game scores, athlete highlights, play-by-plays, etc. These extra accounts can help separate frequent and audience-specific Tweets that will otherwise clutter your school’s main account.
Viewpoint School, for example, offers a dedicated Twitter account for prompt athletics news.
Twitter can be an essential piece of any school’s social media strategy. It empowers you to share real-time news, gather crowdsourced content, and directly engage with your community in ways that other social media channels cannot.
If you're looking to improve your school or district's social media strategy, our experts can work with you based on your goals!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In her position as Inbound Marketing Manager, Kristen provides the strategy and creation of content across email, website and social media communications at Finalsite. With over five years of experience in content strategy and digital marketing, Kristen has worked with clients around the country to develop their branding, SEM, SEO, social media, and inbound efforts. She holds and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite