Everywhere we turn, there’s more coverage, more social media posts, more stories, all around COVID-19. And while we are still very much in the thick of it — as we scramble to get out essential communications, ensure students on free or reduced meal plans have breakfast and lunch, and piece together e-learning programs — we can’t help but yearn to see, read, or post about something uplifting.
One question we see continue to pop up in our School Marketing Community Facebook Group is: “But is it okay to be posting other things on social media besides COVID-19 updates?”
In short: yes. Don’t be afraid to promote your school culture and community. Your campus is still beautiful. Your faculty are still awesome. Your arts program still rocks. Your athletics are still top-notch.
Don’t let the essential COVID-19 communications take that away from you. The content you post during this time has the power to impact re-enrollment and next year’s admissions season.
General Social Media Best Practices Guidelines
Here’s what we know: your community is likely home. Parents are working remotely, if they can. Everyone just bought a Disney+ subscription to watch Frozen II. And everyone is spending much more time on social media. Because of this, now isn’t the time to throw all “best practices” and “guidelines” out the window. Here are some best practices to continue to follow across your channels:
Follow Best Practices for Posting Cadences
Continue to post 1-2 times per day on Facebook and Instagram, and 5+ times per day on Twitter if you can. For “overflow” posts on Facebook and Instagram, try your best to use stories. You want your community to see important content during this time, and posting numerous times per day on your feed can hurt your organic reach — the very last thing you want during this time.
Use Photos and Videos as Much as Possible
Now more than ever, people want community. So “going live”, accompanying text posts with a photo whenever possible, and sharing video updates will go a long way during this time. For example, this simple post from Highline Public Schools puts a face to the task of packing school lunches for students on the free or reduced meal program within the district.
Respond to Comments
If your school or district couldn’t find the time to reply to comments on social media previously — now you need to. Dedicate at least 30 minutes at the beginning, middle, and end of your day to responding to comments left on your social media channels.
Create a Branded Hashtag
Hashtags are a great way to aggregate content during the normal school year — and now that students and faculty are remote, it can be a great way to provide a sense of community. Schools around the world are coming up with unique hashtags to keep their community in-the-loop and connected during this time.
Pin Important Posts
If you want to continue posting content outside of COVID-19 updates, simply “pin” your important posts to the top of your Twitter or Facebook feeds so they’re easy to access. On Instagram, use the “highlights” feature to share any and all COVID-19 updates for your community.
Don’t Cancel All of Your Ads
Our team of social media ad specialists has advised the following:
“First, pause any open house ads - unless they are going virtual. You will want to alter the content of that ad if you plan on going virtual. For general admissions ads, keep them going, but focus on calls-to-action that include getting more information and contacting admissions instead of visiting campus. People are still likely to engage with general content (especially if they can't work and have downtime) but will stay away from any that hint at on-campus activity.”
What Your Families are Looking for on Social Media
Currently, your families are looking for two things:
- Up-to-date information: Your content should answer questions like, How are students getting lunches? When will you be open? Where can families access e-learning programs? In addition to posting on their feed, Laguna Beach USD took to Instagram and Facebook stories to answer FAQs.
- A sense of community: First and foremost, be sure to respond to comments! Outside of that, your content should give your community a glimpse into the e-learning experiences of other students, families, and faculty. Content can also reassure families during the time that they are not alone, by providing ongoing resources for navigating this time.
Your social media content during this time should be a balance between the two. Inevitably, even when you try to post content that isn’t directly related to COVID-19, your content will likely have a nod to e-learning and remote life because that’s what there is to talk about.
You don’t have students learning in chemistry class, or the soccer team competing at states. You don’t have the ability to walk down the hall and grab a quick video. You have your community. You need to keep them connected more than ever. And social media can be the glue that holds it together during this time.
21 Inspiring School Social Media Posts from Around the World
Examples of Schools Showcasing School Culture
Post Student Spotlights
1. Trinity-Pawling School continues to show off the accomplishments of its students through athletics photos and more.
2. Northwest Catholic High School showcases the unique talents of its school community on Twitter.
Showcase Faculty and Student Relationships
3. Community Day School’s Middle School Head Mark Minkus is continuing to connect with his students through a lunchtime newsletter that features trivia, throwback photos, and other feel-good content to keep students engaged.
Post User-Generated Content
Without a campus to roam to snag amazing shots of students learning in the classroom, schools need to lean on the creativity of their community to generate content to fuel their social channels.
4. International School of Brussels’ middle school staff came together for an online yoga session to practice healthy living while at home.
5. The Woods Academy shares how its students are settling in for distance learning. They even throw in the branded hashtag #WoodsWorksOn to encourage engagement!
6. Similarly, American School of Paris shows off how their Lower School students are learning at home with the branded hashtag #RebelsGoRemote
7. Northwest Catholic High School calls for other students to show off their school spirit by featuring a teacher who is wearing school colors and cuddling up with his dogs.
8. International School of Brussels shares the benefits of being with pets during distance learning and asks for followers to send in their furry friend pictures.
Ask Students to Post What They’re Working On
9. Rome International School uses Google Classroom to hold their courses as usual and are sharing what their students’ notebooks look like while working from home.
10. Elgin Academy shares what their students are doing to stay in shape.
Show How Clubs are Staying Connected
11. The Weber School student council meets virtually through Zoom.
Examples of Schools Keeping School Spirit Up
Throwbacks and Flashbacks
12. Dunn School begins a series of celebrating life at the school, filling their feed with beautiful photos of the campus and community.
13. Havergal College puts their own school hymn to the handwashing meme.
14. Santa Margarita Catholic High School shares a photo of their “lonely” mascot while school is remote, but ends on a positive note!
15. Western Academy of Beijing holds a karaoke contest for the community and shares one song written and sung by a Grade 2 student.
16. Talbot Heath School for Girls, Bournemouth, UK, plans a social media series with graphics to keep its students and community positive and motivated.
17. Avon Old Farms School gives us chills with this nod to social distancing, while sharing a deeper sentiment about the school's culture.
Examples of Schools Just Trying to be Helpful
18. Derby Academy in Massachusetts shared Mo Williem’s doodle livestream — the perfect lunchtime activity for busy parents working from home who also need a break.
19. San Francisco Waldorf School is one of many who are leaning on other experts to help their community during this time by re-sharing articles on everything from e-learning to communicating with teens.
20. University Prep in Washington is posting a daily tip about how to be productive in a remote work or learning environment.
21. The New School calls parents to share their tips for getting through this difficult time.
While it’s important to maintain consistent and accurate communications that your community depends on during this time, use your social media platforms as an opportunity to connect your community and put something positive in the news feeds of your community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In her position as director of demand generation, Kristen provides the strategy and creation of content across email, website, and social media communications at Finalsite. With over six years of experience in content strategy and digital marketing, Kristen has worked with clients around the country to develop their inbound strategies. She regularly speaks at professional development events for schools and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite.