It’s inevitable. The future of social media is going to be bigger and greater. I can’t say it is coming because it is already here, so if you are a business, company or person who isn’t signed up to one of the many social media platforms, you are already falling behind.
So much happens on social media – the good, bad and ugly – but it is up to you on how you are going to use it and the contributions you are going to make to the greater conversations.
People give social media a bad rap because there is a lot of negative that goes on with it, but truthfully, it’s how you interact with it, what you share, and who you interact with that makes the platform you choose really amazing. If you look for the bad, you’ll find it. If you look for the good, you’ll find it and hopefully be amazed at the power these channels have.
Learning from the past
Throughout the 2016-17 school year, I have been able to focus more of my time at work on testing new social media trends and developing plans on how to make the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) social channels more interesting and engaging.
However, before developing a plan for the future, you must look at the past and analyze what worked and what didn’t. One thing I have learned is gone are the days of not responding to questions, not interacting with our community, and just pushing content. It is now all about the two-way conversations and sharing fresh, new content. You might not think so, but people are always watching what you do or say, so being transparent and responsive is now becoming best practice – and that is a good thing.
So…now we need to look to the future and come up with a strategy that is fun, yet informative and helps us achieve our student achievement and well-being goals.
The future of video
One word: video. That is the future of social media. That is one of the communication tactics the WRDSB communications department will be using more of in the upcoming school year.
Our parents want to know what is going on in their child’s school, whether it is information that needs to be communicated to them, or simply, a performance or activity they can’t attend due to work or other personal commitments.
Video use at the WRDSB
To help bridge this gap, we are starting to use live video. On the first day of school in September 2016, we gave it a try. The Ontario Minster of Education joined us to give a funding announcement – something we thought our parents and community should hear right away. So, we fired up Facebook Live and the response was good. Because it was our first time doing a live video and our Facebook account was still very new, we didn’t get a high reach or engagement rate. But that is okay, it was a start and we would try again.
As you can tell, with the sideways video feed, we weren’t experts and had a lot of learning still to do.
Next try was Remembrance Day. Every year one of our schools puts together a big Remembrance Day ceremony. We saw this as an opportunity to showcase the talents of our staff and students and provide our community with a bit of a different broadcast than the ones shown on the news. It also gave parents or relatives, who couldn’t make it to the ceremony, a chance to watch and comment online. It was a hit and our viewers were extremely grateful. We even had some viewers watching from Europe. That is the power of social.
All in all, after reviewing our year on Facebook, specifically, it was not a surprised to see that the posts we had the highest reach and engagement rate from were our videos – live or pretaped. In total, we posted 11 videos and had more comments, reactions, and shares than any other type of post. It is a surefire sign that video is the next big thing and we’re jumping on board.
One idea that I would like our schools to try is live streaming their parent/school council meetings. Parents are busy. Most want to be involved in their child’s school experience as much as possible, but when many of our students are in after school activities, clubs or our parents have varying work schedules, it can be hard. It would be nice to have our parents or community members participate in the discussion, even if they can’t be there. This is just an idea and something I’d like to try. It will take a bit of training but I am optimistic our talented staff would be willing to take the leap.
Lessons for Others
- Spend money: budget for boosted Facebook posts or promoted tweets. Especially because Facebook is always changing its algorithms, organic reach is a lot harder to achieve. Allocate money so you can target your posts or tweets better. When you post normally, it just appears and you hope someone sees it, let alone interacts with it. But if you pay, you can target your desired audience by location, age, gender, activities, interests, or all of the above.
- Don’t be afraid of video. Now that we have experimented with a few types of video, we are going to weave that into our communications plans. You don’t have to be an expert to create a video, and you don’t need all the fancy equipment either. Most phones or tablets are equipped with a camera. Take it out for a spin one day and record something, anything. Practice. Use iMovie or any other video editing app to piece together a masterpiece and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. I would suggest trying it on a personal social media platform first if you’re new to the idea. Not sure how to use Facebook Live? The Sun, a United Kingdom news company, recently published a great how-to guide called, GET READY TO GO LIVE How to use Facebook Live – your guide to streaming and watching live video with the social media giant.
- Make sure all your content is mobile-friendly.
“80% of internet users own a smartphone. With so many cell phone services giving away free smartphones with their contracts, this number is only going to keep increasing — which is good news for companies with a mobile marketing strategy.” – Impact, 2016.
Waterloo Region District School Board
Name of Organization Contact: John Bryant
Authored by: isabel.p
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- Weekly Marketing Tips. (2016, December 7). The Future of Social Media Marketing Trends 2017: Google Trends Show [Video]. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nMMsAUv1ow
- Sukhraj, R. (2016, October 3) 31 Mobile Marketing Statistics to Help You Plan for 2017. Impact. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/mobile-marketing-statistics-for-2016