Facebook has it’s roots in education.

Launching in February 2004 for students at Harvard University it quickly became a popular site and expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy Leagues, and Stanford University.

Once Facebook conquered colleges the now web-giant with more than 900 million active monthly users moved on to support high schools. Eventually adding support for anyone over the age of thirteen.

Naturally, Facebook’s appeal reaches down into the earlier years of education because kids love connecting with friends. Independent schools, private schools and K-12 schools have all found great benefits from using the Facebook platform to engage with students and families.

Here’s how some of the top educational institutions are using Facebook (and other social media) to engage, inspire and build lasting relationships with their students and their families (Includes slides below).

Top 5 Social Media Tactics Every School Should Implement

1)  Stick to 3 Platforms – Blog / Facebook / Twitter

First off, your school should have a blog that’s the center of your social media strategy. Your home base. Hub. Cornerstone. Make your blog the place where you produce original content that’s tailored to your audience. Remember, great content is the key to successful social media.

Once your blog is in place you could choose to spend time on Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc, but why waste time on every site out there when you can optimize your time. Based on our research we know that Facebook and Twitter are the top sites used by nonprofits and the social networks with the largest user base.

That means your audience – students and their families – spend time there. Stick to Facebook and Twitter. Master them first.

Build your audience on those platforms.

2)  Narrow it Down to 2 – Seesmic / Bit.ly

Now that you’ve got your blog humming along and your Facebook and Twitter accounts in working order it’s time to pull things together.

First, set up a bit.ly account. This will allow you to shorten your URLs (e.g. http://bit.ly/mycampaign) and measure your sharing effectiveness. You’ll even get real-time click stats!

Next, set up a Seesmic account. With seesmic you’ll be able to manage all your social media activity in one place for free.

By setting these two tools up you’ll increase your efficiency and set your-self up for success early on.

3) Follow a 3 Step Process – Create / Shorten / Share

The process is simple. Create great content. Publish it on your blog. Shorten your URL and share it out via Facebook and Twitter.

The hard part is creating the great content. Spend most of your time and energy on that.

Here’s a few creative content ideas for you.

4)  Measure and Analyze – Google Analytics

Google Analytics is free. Set it up on your website and blog so that you can track your efforts.

Once you’ve got the basic setup done look into using Google Analytics to track campaigns. Doing that will allow you to track overall campaign effectiveness including the ability to drill down into how each source (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc) is performing.

No more wondering if social media is paying off. You’ll have real web metrics to back up your work.

5) Monitor the Social Web

Social media monitoring is one of those things that’s been talked about for years now. In essence, it’s the art of listening to what’s being said online about things that are important to your school (i.e. school name, programs you run, staff/board members, etc).

First, download this social media monitoring worksheet and take some time to fill it out.

Then, follow these instructions on how to set up a social media monitoring dashboard.

If you take the time to work through the above two resources you’ll be in a great place with respect to monitoring the social web for your school.

6) Bonus:  Create Engaging Content

Like I mentioned above, great content is the key to your schools social media success. Here are a few ideas that work particularly well on Facebook, but can be applied to your blog and any other place you publish online content.

  1. Keep Posts Short
  2. Post Photos, Videos and Quotes
  3. Post Consistently
  4. Ask for Fans Opinions
  5. Ask Questions (true/false, fill in the blank, yes/no,
  6. Try “Fill in the Blank” Posts
  7. Give Fans Access to Exclusive Information
  8. Reward your Fans with Deals and Perks
  9. Be Timely
  10. Localize your Posts if they are Relevant to a Specific Audience

Check out the slides – Top 5 Social Media Tactics Every School Should Implement

View and download the slides here. (Download button is above the slides when you click on the link)

[slideshare id=13533390&doc=thetopfivesocialmediatacticseveryschoolshouldimplement-120703171357-phpapp02]


Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, helps nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising so they can focus changing the world. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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