As you continue to develop or re-evaluate your professional social media plan, an obvious medium that should not be overlooked is Facebook.
Pew Research Center stats from 2014 show that 71 percent of online adults use Facebook, which is much higher than the percentage of those using Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Pinterest. That means the potential for reaching and connecting with a larger audience, particularly parents and students, is much higher.
A Facebook page is relatively easy to set up; in fact, you may already have a personal account. However, before you start using your personal Facebook profile to connect with the community in a professional capacity, consider whether it may be more appropriate to set up a separate account for this purpose. This will allow you to keep your personal family photos and interactions private while also creating another opportunity to professionally connect and engage.
You have two options when setting up a professional Facebook profile:
- You might create a second profile for yourself that identifies you as a superintendent and allows community members to friend you. For your profile picture, use the same professional headshot you would use on your district’s website, and choose a school-related picture for your timeline photo. This will indicate to potential friends that it is a professional account.
(See how Superintendent John Perales of the San Benito High School District does it.)
- Or you can opt to create a Facebook page for yourself as a public figure. Community members can like the page to follow your updates and interact with you, rather than requesting to be friends.
(See how Superintendent Cindy Marten of the San Diego Unified School District
When — and What — to Share
In order to use Facebook most effectively, content should be shared often but not too often and should feature a variety of formats, including pictures and videos of school events, shared links from other pages or websites, and simple text announcements.
Parents, students and community members will most often connect with you for access to up-to-date information on important announcements, such as school closings or event cancellations. But you can also use Facebook as another outlet for spreading the good news of your district.
As a K-12 superintendent, you can use your professional
Facebook profile or page to:
Search for the professional accounts and public pages of other community leaders and organizations. “Friend” or “like” them, follow along with their updates and interact by commenting and sharing their content to build a professional rapport.
Make Important Announcements
Announce snow days or remind students and parents about upcoming events and changes to the regular school schedule, such as teacher in-service days or holiday breaks. You can also share announcements about important school board meetings and hearings.
Your schools are dynamic centers of learning and fun — your Facebook page should reflect that. Post pictures from the school play, the art show, the football game, and the field trip. There is something happening each and every day that is worth photographing and sharing so your community can get a feel for the rich and varied experiences available to students.
Facebook is the home of the humble-brag, where people try to nonchalantly publicize their accomplishments. If your students win a local academic competition or a group of teachers volunteer for a community outreach project or an administrator wins an award, show it off! Sharing the news is a great way to show support for your students and staff and to give them recognition for their hard work.
When you want or need input on an issue, pose the question to your Facebook followers. This shows your community members that you care about their opinions and gives you another opportunity to collect suggestions or solutions you hadn’t previously considered.
The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Facebook for Superintendents
Do: Get Social
Interact often with your district’s Facebook page. Comment on photos from events you attended and share good news or important announcements from the district page to your own friends and followers. Don’t forget to comment on other user’s posts as well. This shows that you’re part of the community conversation and not just using Facebook as a bullhorn.
Don’t: Get Aggressive
Don’t use Facebook to address or respond to politically charged issues in an aggressive or defensive way. Keep it professional and refer any abrasive commenters to websites they can visit or people they can call for more information or to discuss their concerns, and leave it at that.
Do: Get Active
Post consistently to your page, which means multiple times a week, and include a visual element whenever possible.
Don’t: Overdue It
Avoid posting too many times in one day or too many times within a small timeframe. Instead, utilize Facebook’s scheduling option to space out content and to post at the times you find you get the most engagement from your followers. Public figure pages allow for more robust scheduling options.
In addition, your district should have its own public Facebook page. You can either manage this yourself or choose someone in your district office with social media experience to oversee day-to-day page management.
Here are a few examples of districts that are doing it right:
- The School District of Upper Dublin
- Hilliard City Schools
- Salt Lake City School District
- Rockford Public Schools
- Richland School District
Do you have anything to add? How do you or your district staff use Facebook to connect to your community? Let us know in the comments.