Boost your PTA/PTO with Social Media…part 1
Hi PTG friends,
I have put together some tips and suggestions to help you boost your PTA/PTO with social media in a series of articles that I will share over my next few posts. Because there is so much to keep in mind and the rules of social media continually change, I thought breaking things up into smaller posts would be most helpful.
In this post you will come across a series of questions to think about and potential steps to make based on what you find out! I hope you find some helpful tips along the way!
Use what you know!
There are many forms of social media for organizations to use. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more, but you probably know that already. With so many choices out there, what makes the most sense for your Parent Teacher Group (PTG)? Well, I can’t answer that for you because every group is truly different from the next. But I can help lead you to making some decisions to move yourself in the right direction.
What social media outlets should you use? What seems most logical is to start with with you already know and use!
But what if you really aren’t all that familiar with this stuff to begin with? Or, what if you once had a Facebook account and deactivated it because it just wasn’t “you”? Well, then…perhaps another board member would be better suited to being your social media rep? I mean, you can’t effectively navigate what you personally reject or don’t want to be involved in, right? Right! It is totally okay to ask for help if this really isn’t something best suited to your skills or interests.
Of course, learning new things can be a lot of fun, sometimes frustrating along the way, but maybe fun too! Just be honest with yourself/your group and make a plan that sets up your social media outreach to be as successful as possible. Check out this post from PTO Today with more information about the various social media formats to see if expanding to something new would interest your group!
Use what they use
Is your PTG able to effectively communicate with your fan base? Do you even have a fan base?
What Social Media outlets do your PTG families use?
These are important to questions to think about. The best way to find out is to ask! At the start of the school year (or any other time you get around to it), send out a survey electronically (or hard copy) to find out where your group’s families are interacting on-line. In the survey, ask families what they are using and how they would like to communicate with you. Once you know, make a plan to get active! You might even be surprised at the results.
If you aren’t already connected to a primary source of social media that your PTG families report they most frequently use, start to acclimate to the new outlet and start small. But the most important thing for staying connected is to make sure you are reaching them through the proper avenues. If the majority of your families use Twitter and you only use Facebook, it is probably time to figure out what that tweet is all about!
What if your school already has a page?
The school’s page is not the PTG’s page and vice versa! A great way for your organization to network with parents is by actually networking, either in person or via social media. The school can help you in many ways, but can’t do it for you!
If you don’t already have your own page, now is a great time to start! If your school has a page, make sure you take the time to follow it and help promote it. Find out who manages the school’s social media page and ask if he/she will help support your page as well. Another step to consider is finding out if your district has a social media outreach program. If so, be sure to support it and hopefully they will support yours as well!
How can you effectively use Facebook with your PTG?
First off, make a plan and set some goals for what you/your group would like to achieve. This is especially helpful if you are new to using social media for your PTG and/or if your group’s page isn’t really cutting it. Maybe posts are too infrequent to really make a difference? Do most of the families even know about the page? Are the posts being shared too late, making them not meaningful?
Here are a few more points to consider.
Should you have a closed group or a page, or both?
This is really up to you/your group, but may not be an easy decision to make. Some PTGs like having closed groups for more open lines of communication between the PTG and other parents. People generally feel more comfortable posting/asking questions in a closed group setting vs a public page. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its own set of problems…
I think it can get pretty sticky (and ugly) if closed groups are used as a place to vent. Let’s be honest, not everyone has good intentions and thinks clearly about what they share on social media. Of course you can and should establish very clear rules and regulations regarding proper use of your closed group. This step may help you avoid some potential issues.
Something else to think about?
What happens when families leave school as children age or when families move? Will they be removed from the group? Who will be in charge of that?
There is a lot to consider and potentially a lot of issues that could occur. For me personally, it seems like a lot of work. And, I am a big fan of keeping things as simple as possible – simple can be really effective!
I’d highly suggest that if you have a Facebook closed group or are planning to create one, definitely establish some ground rules and posting guidelines. But also be sure to moderate it heavily! Anything negative or drama-filed can easily reflect poorly on you & your organization. And nobody has time for that!
Here’s what we do!
Our group has a Facebook “Fan” page, one that a business or other organization can open. There are many settings that can be selected to restrict who can post to the page, if people can share pictures, etc. Fans can communicate with one another, message the page privately, and see all of the updates.
A few added benefits of having a page vs a group on Facebook
Pages are a really nice way to to extend the lines of communication with your membership, family, and friends of your group! One of the things I like about this is that grandparents can like the page to see updates. Grandparents (unless they are care providers for the students at school) and other family members do not see PTG promotional papers sent home about various fundraisers or events, but they might like to. Many grandparents would support a special restaurant fundraising night for your PTG if they only knew about it. Your page can make that happen!
Teachers, current or retired, can also stay informed about all of the events you have going on. For many retired teachers your page can be a special transitional piece for them as they start to acclimate to life outside of school! These teachers have given so much of themselves day in and out to their students and school…they really do care. Your page can help them stay in the loop!
Also, keep in mind that social media is a great way to promote your group in general. Perhaps a new family to the area may come across your page and see all of the awesome things you are doing and want to send their kiddos there as well! Families with younger children in the school’s neighborhood or older neighbors that care about what goes on at your school may choose to like the page too. Area businesses may see updates and be able to offer support throughout the year. You might just find some new volunteers, Box Tops donors, and other sources of support this way. Sounds great to me!
A few last thoughts about boosting your pta/pto with social media…
Each year why not brainstorm and set some new goals for your group’s social media use. This way you can continue to grow, expand, and build your organization! Maybe the first goal is to increase your posting frequency? What about expanding your fan base to add your target audience? Talk with your board to determine what your main priorities should be this year and then get to work!
Thanks for joining me and being patient as I took a little hiatus from writing over the summer months and through the start of the school year. Now that school is back in session my life is starting to get more structured again with some real available “work time” as my youngest naps. Please oh please, baby girl, keep that nap up for a little while longer! 🙂
Stay on the lookout for another post coming soon with more tips to help you build your social media fan base and market your group to attract new members/volunteers!