- 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 affects its made on marketers 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.
So what can your school do to achieve success on Twitter? Here are eight Twitter strategies that schools can implement for a stronger presence:
1. Create, use, and promote branded hashtags:
Branded hashtags are hashtags that are unique to your school that represents your school's overall brand and personality or a particular campaign, help you take your social presence to the next level on Twitter. Using branded hashtags in your tweets is an easy way to begin and maintain a conversation with followers year over year, or over a shorter period of time.
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.
For example, Choate Rosemary Hall is using Finalsite Feeds to their fullest advantage with their very own hashtags. What better way to have all this content in one place.
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.
For example, when you look up #IHSMustangs, you can easily see Immaculate High School's pride being shared in almost every tweet:
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.
Georgetown Preparatory School has been sharing the campaign #GPsummer17 all throughout Twitter over the past few weeks as they capture what students are up to during camp. And when you look up the hashtag, you can see other people are using the hashtag too:
The opportunity for branded hashtags is nearly limitless. We recommend having 1-2 branded hashtags you use all year round, as well as hashtags associated to specific campaigns, such as student acceptance letters, the annual fund, sports, and more.
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.
Immaculate High School's brought some originality in this eye-catching animated graphic setting the bar high on using visual content:
One of the first tweets that stand out on Georgetown Prep's Twitter is the pinned post thanking its community - that was created with a branded graphic:
3. Start using live video
You can now post live video on almost any social media platform, including Twitter. With Twitter, 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. Live video is great for schools who don't have the time or budget to create professional video campaigns for social media, but want to offer video content.
Notre Dame Academy's live Twitter video captured an end of the year dance party that really makes you wish you were there:
4. Actually...just use video in general.
Like all other social networks, videos get the most engagement. But, what's great about Twitter, is that studies prove shorter videos perform the best — which makes your life easier. Again, you don't need a high quality video production team to produce videos for Twitter, you just need a story — like in this Twitter video by Immaculate High School promoted a good cause:
5. Don't forget to use photos, too.
Recent research discovered visual content on social media is now becoming more effective than plain text content. Having a good mix of video and photo can make for great success on your Twitter feed. Specifically, tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. The photos don't just have to be original branded graphics, you can also use photos right from your school's viewbook, website, and other social media accounts.
Georgetown Preparatory does an awesome job sharing pictures in their tweets that say a thousand words (that's better than having to limit an idea to 140 characteristics, don't you think?):
6. Keep up with Twitter trends
Twitter has become the platform around trends. A fun addition to your social media strategy are the 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). GIFs are another example of a fun, trendy approach to tweeting as a new way to show expression with tweets.
Vanguard University is one school on Twitter who knows a thing or two about Twitter trends...including how to appropriately use a GIF in this tweet, as well as another tweet.
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.
This post by Notre Dame Academy uses two relevant hashtags around a holiday campaign #Classof2017 while using fun emojis related to the occasion:
7. 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.
Being a district with only one Twitter account can get tricky, but Oconomowoc Schools sets a great example of taking the time to post multiple times a day to highlight some of the great happenings in all the schools:
8. Use Twitter Analytics:
An added bonus to using Twitter is it offers a free analytics dashboard to track how your tweets are performing, including 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!
Be inspired by the schools featured:
Immaculate High School's Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ihsmustangs
Notre Dame Academy's Twitter: https://twitter.com/ndahingham
Georgetown Preparatory School's Twitter: https://twitter.com/georgetownprep
Vanguard University's Twitter: https://twitter.com/vanguardu
Oconomowoc Schools' Twitter: https://twitter.com/oconschools
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing singer/songwriter and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.
- Social Media