• Public School District
Four Social Media Platforms School Districts Should Be Using in 2020 
Risa Engel

Social media has become an integral part of how school districts communicate. Having trouble getting started? Learn about four social media networks your district should be using in 2020. 

Facebook was launched 15 years ago as the one of the first social media networks. Since its inception, social media platforms have drastically changed the way we communicate and connect with each other. Although a strong website presence is a critical element in your school district’s  communications strategy, an equally strong social media presence should also top your list of tactics in 2020. 

Did you know that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all among the 20 most visited websites in the world? In 2019, Facebook had more than 2.3 billion monthly active users, and that number is only expected to rise. Your parents, students and staff make up these statistics. Yes, they are on social media, and yes, they want to hear from your school district there! 

There are an abundance of social media platforms out there, so understanding what channels to use can seem overwhelming for schools districts today. You might be wondering: What’s Safe? What’s Effective? What’s worth my time? The good news is that there are only four social media platforms your school district should be focusing on this year. 

  1. Facebook 
  2. Instagram
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn

And don’t worry — if you can’t make time for all four, you don’t need to! Many school districts in 2020 rely on some combination of these four, often relying heavily on Facebook and Instagram. But, to help you make the decision for yourself, let’s look at a breakdown of the different social media channels’ audience and strategies. 

1. Facebook

Why Facebook? 

If your school district is going to use a single social media platform in 2020, pick Facebook. Facebook is the leader among all social platforms with the largest user base overall . Facebook also makes it easy to engage with your community through commenting, direct messaging, stories, private groups, and post sharing. 

Who’s the Audience? 

Most school districts’ main goal for using social media is to share information and engage with parents. Facebook is the prime place to do this, as it is widely used by adults of all ages. While parents are the primary audience for Facebook content, you’ll also find staff and community members following along. 

Keep in mind that you likely won’t reach your younger audiences on Facebook (like your high school students) but don’t worry, Instagram can help with that! (More on that, later.) 

What to Post? 

Facebook can run the gamut for types of content to share. Facebook is a great place to share videos, photos, events and announcements. Just remember your target audience is primarily parents, so tailor your messaging with that in mind. 

Eanes ISD does a great job with its Facebook page, focusing on content relevant to its parent community paired with photography and video. Posts on the page generate high engagement overall with a large number of comments, shares and likes.

Eanes ISD facebook example

Tips for Getting Started:

  1. Start small with a district-specific page, and slowly expand to add your individual schools to the mix. You’ll see higher engagement with posting consistency, so before you create school pages, make sure someone will manage them and post on a regular basis. We don’t recommend adding additional school pages if there isn’t someone who can find the time to post at least 3-5 times per week.
  2. If you plan to post directly to Facebook instead of using a social media management tool, download the Facebook business pages manager app on your phone. Using this app will ensure you won’t accidentally post to your personal page when creating content for your school district. It will also make it easier to reply to comments and direct messages. 

click here to get your copy of the free ebook: the complete social media guide for schools

2. Instagram

Why Instagram?

Instagram is exploding in popularity among school districts. What was built to be a photo-sharing social network has risen to be the third most popular network worldwide. Instagram is a great way to visually showcase what your school district is doing and connect with another (often younger) subset of your school’s community. 

Who’s the Audience? 

The younger generations are using Instagram at a steadily increasing rate, making it a prime place to reach your students! Instagram is the most popular traditional social media network among U.S. teens, with 72 percent saying they have an Instagram account. 

If you have middle school, junior high or high school students in your school district, consider using Instagram to develop stronger connections and greater engagement with them. 

What to Post? 

Instagram was made to share photos, so great images and videos should be your primary focus. In fact, you can’t post anything on Instagram without a visual component associated with your post! Keep your target audience in mind when creating content. Students love to see photos of themselves! Student-centered content will result in more engagement from your followers. 

The Stevenson High School Instagram account has close to 8,000 followers, which is a pretty amazing feat for a school with less than 5,000 students. It is common to see 800 or more likes and a dozen comments on the Stevenson account. Most of the engagement comes from its student body who are supporters and followers of the school’s social media accounts. 

Stevenson High School Instagram screenshot
stevenson high school instagram example

Tips for Getting Started: 

  1. Start small, but be consistent. For school districts just beginning their journey with Instagram, try posting a photo or video a few times per week, and work up to daily posts. You’ll quickly attract followers once word spreads that you are using the platform consistently. Unlike Facebook where having an account for the different schools in the community can be beneficial, we recommend sticking to one Instagram account. Instagram is what we call the “storefront” — so the best of the best of what you have to share. This is a great place to pull content from the schools within your district and share on the main feed.
  2. A key best practice to remember about Instagram is that high quality photos and videos should live on your feed, but lower-quality videos and photos can live on your “story.” If you’re just getting started, stick with just posting to your feed, and then start experimenting with how stories can give a glimpse into everyday life.
  3. You can’t post to Instagram from your desktop or laptop without using a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Keep this in mind if you plan to take your Instagram photos on a DSLR camera. 

3. Twitter

Why Twitter? 

School districts today tend to use Twitter at higher rates than other social media platforms. Why? It is an easy and quick way to share information and connect with people with similar interests. The platform has a character restriction when posting, making brevity is a priority on the platform. Twitter also is the king (and creator!) of social media hashtags, making it easy to track and find topics of interest. 

Who’s the Audience? 

Twitter’s statistics show about 22 percent of the population is on the platform, and the majority of those users are between 35-65 years old. School districts using the platform have the greatest success connecting with other staff members. This is where staff share photos and tips from the classroom and learn more about what is going on across the district. Teachers and educators from all over the world turn to Twitter to connect with each other, so make sure your district’s voice is in the mix! Your staff wants to hear from you! 

What to Post? 

Keep things short, and always use a hashtag! Some examples of hashtags that school districts are using are #196Pride, #D155Inspire and #shareSHS, to give you some ideas. Visual content is always more engaging than a post without photos attached, so be sure to use imagery. With Twitter, you are limited to sharing four photos per post. 

District 196 has a strong following on its Twitter page, and interacts often with teachers and school accounts. The district’s feed is filled with re-tweets from other relevant pages, helping to spread the good news from across the district. 

district 196 twitter example

In addition to re-tweets, the district’s original posts also get high engagement. There is a mix of content shared, and it is no surprise that the posts celebrating students or staff get high engagement. District 196 utilizes the hashtag #196Pride, encouraging staff to use it when tweeting as well. The hashtag has been used more than 200 times by accounts related to the district.

District 196 twitter example

Tips for Getting Started: 

  1. Create a list of the teachers and staff members in your school district who are using Twitter, and follow them. This will not only help you find out what is happening across the district, it will make it easy to find quality posts to retweet and share.
  2. Develop a district hashtag and use it consistently. Hashtags are a great way for others to keep track of what you are posting. Share your hashtag with your staff, so they will start using it, too!
  3. Try to post once per day when getting started — and build up to a more frequent basis from there.

4. LinkedIn

Why LinkedIn? 

School districts today don’t face as many challenges attracting students as private schools do. Instead, their focus becomes attracting quality staff members, especially for positions that are difficult to fill and administrative roles. LinkedIn is a great way to showcase available positions within your school district and tell the story of your school culture from an employment perspective. 

LinkedIn is not widely used by school districts today, but those who are using the platform for recruitment and retention purposes are a step ahead of the competition. 

Who’s the Audience? 

LinkedIn is a career-building social network, so your audience here will be quite different from the other networks you may be using. Your audience on LinkedIn is current and prospective staff members. 

What to Post?

Use LinkedIn to share job openings, staff highlights and other staff-centered content. Celebrate the professionals in your organization who are doing amazing work, and tell prospective employees what it’s like to be part of the team. 

Tips for Getting Started: 

  1. Tell your current staff that your school district is on LinkedIn so they will begin to follow along and share your content with their network. 
  2. Instead of paying to post job openings through LinkedIn, share your openings as a post to your district’s page with some context and a photo. This is free to do, and will let you test the waters with LinkedIn without spending advertising or posting dollars. 

Related Content: 12 Social Media Mistakes Hurting Engagement

Key Takeaway

Social media is an essential part of a school district’s communications plan in 2020, but not every platform has equal reach. By utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, your school district will more effectively engage with parents, students, staff and prospective employees. 

download your free copy: 2020 social media guide for schools

risa engel headshot

As chief marketing officer, Risa orchestrates the talented team responsible for worldwide marketing strategy and plan execution at Finalsite. She joined the company in June 2019 with an extensive background in education, finance and tech marketing communications. Most recently at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ, Risa transformed the school's brand awareness through innovative programs including the CASE Circle of Excellence award-winning #LEADLIKEAGIRL K-12 conference. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Risa cut her teeth at tech startups and is excited by the incredible opportunities technology provides schools to better communicate, demonstrate value and, therefore, advance the mission of their school.

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