Boost Your PTA/PTO With Social Media Part 2
The rules and inter-workings of Facebook (and other social media outlets) change all of the time. Figuring out how establish an effective social media presence can be a big undertaking. So much so, many businesses and larger organizations hire out to get help from marketing and social media gurus. Of course those of us in the Parent Teacher Group (PTG) game can’t afford to do that. That’s why I would like to chat with you about how to help get your group noticed on social media! While many of the tips in this post are geared toward Facebook use, please note that many tips can be applied to social media use in general!
1. First up…who should be in charge of Social Media outreach?
Establish a couple of main people who will be responsible for making regular updates on Facebook (or other social media outlets). Too many cooks in the kitchen can be complicated and confusing. Keep your number of admins and contributors small, but not too small. I am a fan of having 2 people on board for this purpose. We can’t all be on our A game all of the time. So having an extra person (or two) is really ideal to help keep your page active and posting at the right time!
Don’t get caught up in assigning the job to a set officer position. It doesn’t have to be the secretary OR president… Really, anyone in your group can do it. Just try to find the right people.
Keep this in mind, a board member who frequently goes offline for days/weeks on end or one that is hard to get in touch with for general communication purposes is likely NOT the best choice for taking on this role. Make sure you have a couple of people who will prioritize this very important job! Be honest with each other and clear about your group’s goals and expectations.
2. How often?
Okay, don’t go overboard so that people start un-following you, but for sure post updates about your group 2-3 x per week if you can, maybe even more! Do you have a big event coming up? One post likely won’t cut it, so be sure to share the same info in different ways over several days/weeks. This way you will get your message out there directed at as many of your families as possible.
3. Change things up a bit!
Make sure you offer varied post content. If all you do is ask for money, people will stop paying attention. Try to share a variety of information with your fan base to keep them coming back for more!
Post about important dates at school.
Share stories with your membership about which class won the Box Tops party or the grade level that won the Spirit Award. Use this platform as a way to share the positive things you are doing at school with your PTG.
Did your group help pay for a field trip or other special event?
Share the news about it on Facebook. So often parents do not hear from kids about what happened at school. As a parent myself, I find that SO frustrating and I bet you do too! So then, pay special attention to using social media to clue everyone in to the awesome support you provide their kids. Families will appreciate reading the updates! And, then they will start to understand exactly how valuable your group is to the school and its students. If they don’t know what your doing/what your about, they will not see your value. Let them know by telling them all about it!
Do you need volunteers to provide baked goods at the next Bake Sale?
Use your social media outreach to connect with potential volunteers. Yes you may have sent a note home or an email about this request last week, but sometimes that extra message via social media is what clicks and gets a parent involved! Don’t forget to use your social media outreach efforts to thank your hard-working volunteers, while you’re at it!
4. Like IT!
Every time your page publishes a post, be sure to “like” it as the group page AS WELL as your own personal page. The more likes a post gets, the more it will be seen by others. Encourage your close fan base to like the posts as well.
Ask the other board members and other highly involved volunteers or supporters to help promote your page by liking and sharing your information as well. Ask your spouse/partner and parents to do the same if they are fans of the page. If your teachers/staff at school are fans of the page, ask them to help you too by letting them know that their “likes” help spread the message to even more people.
Try to ask questions or encourage others to comment on your posts. Comments help boost your page for better viewing. Engaging with families/supporters is such an important way for them to all feel included as part of your group, so it is really a win-win!
This is where photos or other graphics can come in handy as they often entice people to comment. Our group recently shared some photos of PTG memorabilia from over 70 years ago that had been unearthed at school. Because people liked, but especially commented on the post and photos, it was one of our most viewed posts! The trick is to try to replicate that for each post!
6. Sharing can enhance your page.
Share your posts. I very often will share the posts on my personal page and call attention to family and friends of the school to get more eyes on our news, when appropriate. Anytime the page/post gets shared it draws more viewers. If you really want a lot of people to see a particular post, why not ask your followers to share with their family and friends? We have had a lot of success with this strategy for several of our restaurant fundraising nights. The more people who know about it, the better! You can also share posts via messenger or to a friend’s page if you would like to share it with someone specifically.
7. Schedule it!
Have you ever planned to write about an upcoming event and then forgot? Or the post was published without enough advance notice? How about giving a try at scheduling your posts in advance?
For example, I have used the “schedule a post” feature for many of our restaurant night fundraisers. I have scheduled 3-4 different posts about the event over a period of a week. The first one is a “mark your calendars” type of post. The next two are “don’t forget about” posts with details about time/place, etc. The last one is a post that I schedule the day following the event to thank everyone for the support and thank any volunteers who may have worked at the event. Of course, be sure to go back and like/share/comment on all of those scheduled posts once they are published so that they are seen by more people.
An especially good option to consider is to batch your time and spend one afternoon/morning/evening/ planning out all of your Facebook posts for the week and schedule them in advance.
8. Post and post again and again!
Does your group collect Box Tops or use any other program that continues throughout the year or year after year? Communicating with your supporters once a year about these programs just doesn’t cut it. Post about these programs at least several times a year, or as much as once per month.
Sometimes it takes finding that person/family at just the right day, week, or month to prompt them to finally get involved. You might find there are people who are interested in your page who do not have children at the school, but will support your efforts. I have several supporters in my general neighborhood who care a lot about our school and will gladly help out where they can. Using these regular updates to share events or other on-going programs helps keep these people in the loop and encourages them to continue to offer their support.
In the end, we all need regular reminders to keep things fresh. Use your social media outreach to keep reminding everyone!
9. Going Live
What about Facebook Live? Has your group tried that yet? This is another fun tool you can use to help add excitement to the page.
Families love being able to get that first look at Field Day or other behind-the-scenes views you can give them through this feature. It doesn’t have to be long and you don’t even have to be in the shot.
I’ve even heard of some PTGS using the Live feature for their monthly business meetings! So far the feedback they are getting is great. There are many people who would like to come to the meetings, but can’t attend due to schedule restrictions. This is a unique way to reach out to them.
I have to be totally honest here, I am a bit of an introvert and going Live on Facebook for our meetings scares the pants off of me. It scares me so much that it might make me NOT want to come to a meeting! Hahahah! So before you jump into trying this out, make sure that it is the right decision for your group.
10. Snap a pic, or two, or 100!
Add photos wherever you can. Did you just set up a meal that the PTG has organized for your teachers? Snap a pic and share away. People really love to see all of the special projects we PTGs do at school. We all know, a lot happens under the radar. So why not use this format to help spread the good word about all of the awesomeness your group is bringing to school?
Sometimes even a random photo will do to grab the attention of your fan base! Here is something to take note of. We recently had two posts published within a week’s span of each other and about an hour and a half difference in posting time. One had a random photo attached of some geese that had landed in the school’s field and another post had no photo attached. The post with no photo attached had 3 likes. It reached 30 people. The post with the photo of geese had 12 likes and reached 198 people. Photos count. Try to use them wherever you can, if appropriate.
A special note about photos:
Many schools and PTGs have specific policies on posting photos of children. In general my PTG will not share any photos of children UNLESS we have known parental consent. From time to time, we have shared the backs of heads at an event. We operate on the “better safe than sorry” policy and ere on the side of caution.
Okay so what do you do if you can’t share a photo of the actual event because of privacy issues?
Get creative with your photography and take photos of the food at the event. Snap some pics of the decorations. Or share photos of another non-person image that adds a little extra something to your post.
Do you have a mascot?
Try snapping some pics of the mascot doing various things that you can use throughout the year with your messages and updates. Even just photos at school of signs/words can be great images that help tell a story! Think outside the box and start getting creative with your photography! You can even reuse the same photo in different ways by creatively editing it into your graphics.
11. Short and sweet
Shorter updates do better. I know, sometimes you just have to add a lot of information in an update and this is coming from a wordy person! For the success of all posts, try to cut out any extra info that isn’t necessary. Keep to the basics! If possible, chop up the message into smaller posts that can be made over several days.
12. What time to post?
When to post? If you want to know when your audience is most engaged, check with Facebook insights. You’ll see when users are most frequently active. Those are the best times to publish your posts. From there, you can try scheduling your posts to go live just around those peak times so that you get the most views! I will often schedule posts to be published at various times of the day so that I can catch people who may be on online at different times of the day.
13. Sponsor it!
What about sponsoring a post? Did you know you can boost a post for a little $ to greatly increase your reach? Is that a valuable tool for you to try? Maybe maybe not. It definitely can help the business-world folks, but those of us in the PTG game really only want to reach our families at school and not necessarily the whole world, right? If there is something truly special you need to try to get the message out to a larger audience, sponsoring a post might be worth the added expense!
14. Plan an event!
Have you tried the Events Feature yet? Create an event page to help advertise to your membership and supporters. Sometimes what gets people to attend is because they see their friends are going or are “interested” as well. Trust me. I have a friend who regularly admits to marking “yes” that she is going to any random community event because it helps boost the event, even if she is actually unable to attend.
Facebook nicely reminds users of upcoming events, which helps US get more people at our events! Thanks Facebook! Try the Events feature for a few of your upcoming programs, like a special fundraiser night, or even your monthly meetings to help spread the word about all that you do.
15. Summer and breaks are still a good time to stay connected!
Don’t forget to stay up on your posts over the summer and even other breaks at school as needed. If you know you are going to be pretty busy doing other things, like enjoying the summer or a vacation, make a plan and schedule out a number of posts in advance.
Before you go
Check out more on the topic of social media use here where you can read my earlier post, Boost Your PTA/PTO With Social Media…part 1
Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Have you found a new social media trick that has really worked wonders for your group’s page? Please let us know by commenting below. I’d love to hear from you.
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