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 (the 2009 Hudson River plane landing), and it has completely changed the way schools reach their communities quickly and strategically.
Now more than ever, it's important to be able to reach audiences in real-time. And seeing as Twitter has raised expectations for always-up-to-date information, schools are now challenged with utilizing the platform as their newsroom — anticipating questions from the community and answering them directly on the platform.
Seeing as Twitter is different from most platforms in this nature, there comes the question, "How can we form a social media strategy for this platform?" We came up with 8 solid tips to get your school's Twittter account refreshed and ready to go.
8 Twitter Strategies for Schools and Districts
- 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
Twitter for Schools and Districts 101
Benefits for using Twitter for communications and marketing:
- View who is talking about your school or district
- Stay on top of trending topics, both locally and globally
- Find content from similar schools and districts like yours for content inspiration
- Involve your school community, including faculty, staff, and leaders
- Engage your community more effectively through branded hashtags
- Respond to questions from community members
- Create multiple accounts for athletics
- Pin the most important tweet/post to the top of your profile’s feed
Terms you should know:
@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 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 (often times a way to take negative feedback offline, or to avid having personal information become public) on Twitter.
RT: This is the acronym for “retweet,” which is a way to re-share someone else’s tweet on 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.
Top 8 Twitter tips to amplify communications and engagement.
Branded hashtags (a hashtag that is unique to your school) represent your school's overall brand and personality or a particular campaign, and they can play a key role in engagement and conversation on Twitter. Using branded hashtags in your tweets is an easy way to begin and maintain engagement with members of your school or district community.
One major benefit of using a branded hashtag is crowdsourcing content. The Woods Academy, for example, uses #WoodsWorksOn as a means to gather and retweet content from students and families as they move forward with distance learning.
Lake County Schools in Florida used the hashtag #LCSThankATeacher during Teacher Appreciation Week to crowdsource content from families — a great initiative to gain testimonials, connect your community, and honor teachers.
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!
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. 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 branded hashtags. This will help bring your brand to the social media network and unify the content that you’re posting. Using tools like Canva make it easy to add branded colors, logos, and more to photos to add cohesion to your posts.
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 — and professional — visual content.
Even though tweets allow for up to 280 characters, you should not rely solely 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!
If you're pressed for time or do not have the budget to create professional video campaigns, live video is another great outlet to try on Twitter. Live streaming events, morning announcements, graduation, athletics, and more through a third-party like Periscope is a low-planning option for reaching your community. Users tend to watch live video longer than regular video, so it's a great way to get your content in front of more eyes!
De Smet Jesuit High School, for example, went live on Twitter with a simple feed of the football field set to music — a fun, easy way to engage with their Class of 2020 who were distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 humorous GIF? You don’t always have to be serious on social media — don’t be afraid to incorporate some humor into your school’s tweets when appropriate.
We call Twitter "the newsroom" for a reason — it's a great place for news, but not a great place for promotional content. For Lake Washington School District, Twitter offers a platform to share essential updates, fast. That being said, this news-like content doesn't also need to be shared on 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 works well for your school community.
As your virtual newsroom, Twitter has the most flexibility for frequency of posts. We recommend that schools and districts post 5+ times per day on this platform to stay active. What this means for you is that you can test out different times for these tweets and see what tends to receive the most engagement. With 5+ 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 engage directly 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! (And in general, this is good best practice on all social media.)
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.
That being said, Twitter is a bit of a wildcard. 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 play, etc. In other words, extra accounts can help separate tweets that might clutter your school’s main Twitter account.
McCallie School, for example, does this very well and ensures the appropriate kind of content is shared from respective accounts based on their target audiences.
Twitter is an essential tool for any school’s social media strategy. It allows multiple departments to collaborate on content, to share news and events in real-time, and to directly engage with your school community.
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
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