Using Social Media to Tell Our School’s Story

In the book Digital Leadership, author Eric Sheninger says, “If we don’t tell our story, someone else will, and more often than not, another’s version will not be the one we want told. Leaders need to become story-tellers-in-chief.”

For the past few months, I’ve been struck by the importance of telling our school’s story, so I’ve been listening to the BrandEd podcast, reading blog posts like this, diving into thought-provoking books like Digital Leadership, and even writing my own posts like this.

With that in mind, a few days before our annual fundraiser, I thought it would be cool to use Twitter and Facebook to ask our stakeholders (and that definitely includes our students) to share what they love about our school. The idea was to take a handful of responses and display them during our fundraiser event while attendees were making their way into the auditorium.

It was a great idea, but I’ll admit, I was somewhat hesitant. We were inviting anyone to share whatever they want about our school and even giving them a platform to do it!

What if someone posted something inappropriate?

Could we control what message was being shared?

What if this goes terribly wrong?

Despite our initial concerns, we went for it, tweeted out our question along with the hashtag, and we waited.

#cac2me

The responses were incredible— mainly from students, but also from parents, alumni, and friends of the school. Sure, there were some borderline inappropriate comments, but the majority of comments focused on all the ways our school has been a blessing for our students and the influence we’ve had in their lives.

Due to the overwhelming number of responses, our original idea of using PowerPoint to display the responses wasn’t going to work because it would have been too time-consuming to create. We looked at some other options (like Visible Tweets), but with a budget of $0, there was no way to use it and control what was displayed. Because I’ve already been using Storify to create our Mustang Mountain Tweets of the Week, I thought it might work. It actually turned out to be the perfect choice!

I created our story pulling and filtering responses from Twitter and Facebook, published the story, and then I added “/slideshow” to the end of the url to create this slideshow presentation to display during our event:

My school is a special place, and as a school leader, it’s my responsibility to tell our story. This little social media campaign worked for me– how have you been able to help tell your school’s story? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please share them below.

Evernote Use #27- Say goodbye to your flash drive #50EduEvernote

I have several Word and Excel files that I update regularly. I used to save the files in multiple locations– usually on my hard drive, on my school network drive, and undoubtedly on a flash drive. Because I would access one of the files from multiple locations, sometimes I wouldn’t update the most recently-changed document, so in essence, I had three or four versions of the same document floating around.

Using a flash drive helped me with this problem– as long as I didn’t lose my flash drive. But keeping up with a flash drive isn’t something I’m good at.

Maybe you can relate.

Today I don’t use flash drives, hard drives, or even my school’s network drive; now, I just use Evernote.

I save my Excel, PowerPoint, and Word files in a note, and when I need to update one of the documents, I open it the file, work on it, and when I save it, it saves it back to my Evernote note.

No more lost flash drives. No more having to drive to school at the night to search for something on my network drive. No more having a file saved on my laptop that I can’t access from school. It’s all on the cloud. Everything. Lesson plans, assignments, tests, projects, presentations, our budget– everything.

And not only that, but as a premium member, all of those files are searchable.

There are many great cloud-storage services out there. If you’re using one (even if it’s not Evernote), I’m sure you’re loving it. If you still save things on a flash drive or your hard drive, you may want to consider using Evernote.

If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.

Tell Our Story

Our school has a story that goes way beyond our history. We have a story with pages written every single day, and depending on who’s telling the story, the story could be a good one or could be one we don’t want shared. Despite the accuracies or inaccuracies in the details, a story of our school is told every day by our students, their parents, our employees, our alumni, and anyone else who’s ever even heard of us.

It’s imperative that we tell our story (and tell it often) if you we want the story to be accurate. It’s one reason posting often on Twitter and Facebook has been a focus of ours this year. We want to tell our story and share all of the great things that are happening at our school. This past week has been great and I’ve tried to share those great things on Twitter. At the end of each week, I’ve been using Storify to share the Mustang Mountain Tweets of the Week (see last week’s here).

But telling our story goes way beyond social media and our web page. We are the greatest ambassadors of our school and in many of our interactions outside of school we tell a little of the our story. Here are four things to keep in mind to help us tell a great story.

1. Always be positive. Everything isn’t perfect at our school, but that doesn’t mean we should broadcast the negative stuff! It’s important for us watch our words, being certain that what we’re saying always paints our students, our faculty, our administration, and our school as a whole in a positive light. People are listening.

2. Share our students’ accomplishments. When students do great things, we need to brag on them. We have so many ways to share those successes- Twitter, our webpage, Facebook, etc. Be on the lookout for outstanding work and share it.

3. Look for awesome because you’ll find what you are looking for. (I probably just lost some of you because now you’re humming U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”) If you’re looking for things to complain about it, you’ll find plenty. However, if you look for the awesome things about our school, you’ll find plenty of those as well. Look for awesome.

4. When in doubt, over-communicate. Let parents know what’s going on at school. If students are working on projects in class, they may not have many grades posted online. Share that with parents so they will be in the loop and will tell a story of all the great things going in the classroom. If not, the story will be, “They don’t do much in class because there aren’t many grades.”

If you want some more insight into the importance of sharing your school’s story, check out Ben Gilpin’s latest blog post that he shared with his faculty. I promise he didn’t copy from me nor did I copy from him!
What’s the story you want people to tell about your school? Be sure that’s the story you’re telling often.