Today’s students and their parents feel user generated content (UGC) on social media is more memorable and trusted than any other media. This makes social media the best way for schools to communicate their brand to their school community. Award-winning principal, Eric Sheninger explains it this way: “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will. When you roll the dice and take this gamble it typically results in a negative story being told. In education we do not brag enough and as a result we pay the price dearly. By becoming the storyteller-in-chief you can turn this tide and take control of Public Relations – for good. There is so much power in stories and we must do a better job of sharing them.” (see full post here).
Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo who is one of the hosts of the Bam Radio show BrandED couldn’t agree more. He advises educators to “Never give up the opportunity to say something great about your school.”
In New York City we support staff in using social media to tell the story of themselves, their students, and their schools. Hudson High School Principal Nancy Amling understands this. She explains that, “When we look at logos in the outside world, we internalize a brand's message, tone and services. With a school, the same can be accomplished by creating a unified branded look that celebrates the school's unique identity. Our ‘brand’ represents our Hudson family, and prospective students are drawn to our school's clear message sharing the awesomeness of Hudson student life. We are represented on our website, Facebook and Twitter which we use to keep our students and families informed."
Nancy isn’t the only one telling the story of Hudson High School. The best story tellers are those who make up the school community. Students, parents, teachers, and leaders are all partners in telling the story of your school.
Here are some tools schools can use to begin telling their story.
1) Facebook Page
Eileen Lennon, the technology Instructor at the Catherine & Count Basie Middle School in Queens explains that at her school they love using Facebook because “it gives us a place to establish a positive digital presence about our school. We use Facebook because more parents are on there than anywhere else right now.”
Janet Elias, who is a tech facilitator at The Alley Pond School in Queens shares that their schools Facebook Page allows them to “establish a controlled, professional presence for our school to capitalize on the importance of social media in many important ways. We keep parents, the community, students and teachers informed of all events.” She posts news articles, photos and videos of EVERYTHING happening at the school. She explains that she knows what they’re doing is working because of the many 5- Star reviews and comments parents post. She also checks the page analytics to get insights and data on how effectively posts are reaching their audience. What she likes best about using Facebook is parents sending her direct messages from other countries, indicating they are moving to NYC. They ask about how they can enroll their child in the school, because of all the great things they are reading from our community about our school.
For ideas, check out some school Facebook accounts.
- School pages
- School pages run by parents/parent coordinators
- Kurt Hahn School
- PS 4M
- City Polytech High
- Queens VoTech
- Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School
- Catherine + Count Basie Middle School
- PS 46 Q
In New York City, our families come from diverse backgrounds and for many, English is a new language. However, when it comes to images, a picture can paint a thousand words in any language. Robert Cortes, a technology teacher in Queens explains that his school uses Instagram “because it helps us tell our story to our many diverse families.” Janet Elias, Tech Facilitator at The Alley Pond School explains that “Instagram is a great platform to stay in touch with our alumni. It's a fun way to connect with them and show them what an impact they had while attending our school when we do #tbt.”
For ideas, check out some school Instagram accounts.
6 Ways to Use Instagram in Your School via Kara Welty, 6th grade teacher.
Dimitri Salini, Principal at Eleanor Roosevelt High School tells us what he “loves about using Twitter is that it allows us to share the excitement of learning through the sharing of class experiences and our vast extra-curricular activities, as well as other notable educational related topics with our community and beyond.
A great way to share the story of your school is not only by having staff Tweet, but also by developing a hashtag where anyone can share. This gives the community a window into what is happening at the school via various perspectives. You can see a sample of what this looks like at #PS10BK. You can see the types of things story-tellers-in chief are sharing by checking out the accounts of Principal Nancy Amling and Principal Dimitri Saliani
When you livestream you share what is happening at your school with the world. Here are some activities schools are livingstreaming:
- PTA Meetings
- Morning Announcements
5) Online Learning Community
Online learning communities provide a sustained approach to professional learning and sharing. Teachers who collaborate online are engaged with the group, develop a sense of community, improve their knowledge of subject and pedagogical content, and intend to modify their instructional practices accordingly. The online environment enables teachers to access and share knowledge in a timely and comprehensive manner. The online environment is also ideal for promoting self-reflection on learning and instructional practices. I run a vibrant an active community where all the aforementioned can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYCSchoolsTech/
These are some of the platforms and strategies schools are using to develop their brand. What do you think? Is there something here that you might try where you work? Is there something you are doing that is missing here? Please share in the comments.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.