Facebook: School Me
December 9, 2010 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm a parent volunteer who's now in charge of my school's Facebook page. Please help me learn about the most effective ways to promote and communicate about my school this way.

This is a public elementary school, and we're using our Facebook page for casual communication to the school families and surrounding community. So, for instance, we don't use it for official, important school info like signing up for teacher conferences, but we do use it for the fun stuff like promoting our Halloween carnival, an upcoming art display at school, and to link to fundraising eBay auctions, etc.

I actually have a background in marketing, but I became a full-time mom just before the social media revolution, and have next to no official experience communicating via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

So what are the best practices for communicating in this way? How can I attract more friends to the page? I'm interested in hearing your advice, and links to websites or other guides which can help me run the page effectively.

(I do know how to use Facebook on a basic level, so I'm not looking for Facebook 101. Maybe 201. Or 401.)

posted by BlahLaLa to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The first thing you have to do is to get as many friends as possible. Encourage everyone and anyone to be your friend.

Once they are your friend, the school's status up-dates will appear on their news front page on facebook.

Then, you have to make a daily status up-date.
"Spring concert tonight"
"Pizza lunch tomorrow"
"Parent teacher conferences next tuesday"

Then, all your friends will get regular updates about the school.
posted by Flood at 12:47 PM on December 9, 2010

You should interact with others as much as possible. Comment on relevant statuses, post on people's walls saying stuff like "hope to see you at Friday's game!" and tag people in pictures. Encourage people to participate on your page, maybe by asking questions that get people to comment "would you rather have a dunk booth or a bouncy house at the carnival?" and so on. The more "social" you are, the more your updates will show up on other people's news feeds.
posted by phunniemee at 1:10 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

What phunniemee is true and it's something to reiterate -- there's an algorithm at work behind the scenes that weighs the 'value' of everyone's contributions, to determine what to show in others' feeds. If nobody ever comments on or likes your stuff, future updates won't be displayed.
posted by lhall at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

yup, what phunniemee and lhall said!

also, people have to know the facebook page exists so they can be your friend - maybe put up a sign in school, send it home in the newsletter, put a link in the email newsletter. because if you have no "likes," there is no one to interact with.
posted by sabh at 1:19 PM on December 9, 2010

While I understand you don't want your page to be an official communication channel, I do think there'd be value in having the official stuff and the fun stuff in one place. For me as a working parent, the official vs non official stuff is not always so clear. I would actually really value content that helped me keep up. So perhaps consider updates like this:

Remember that parent-teacher conferences are next Tuesday!
Halloween festival coming up! Sign up to to bring baked goods.

Also include links to good content about the school from other sources, like your local newspaper. Mentions of upcoming school board meetings might also be useful.

There are a few ways to promote the page:
1. Through your personal Facebook account (I'm presuming your school's FB page is an official Page, with fans, and not a profile page with friends. Right). Post links to your school's Facebook page and make sure other parents see it; this works if other parents are your FB friends. If not, move on.

2. Ask the school/PTA to include a link to the page in their official emails. This can be a very short line: Find us on Facebook! (link)

3. Does your school have a newsletter? Write a short note for it, telling us some of what you've told us here.

4. Mention it during PTA meetings.

Also, consider loading images of the school and teachers to your Page's images (not of kids, though, since pages are open to the public). That might make it feel more personal.

I would discourage multiple postings each day--more than that, and while people might still 'like' you then, they might hide your updates. I'd aim for one or two postings a day, max, and try to time it when people will be online.

One thing phunniemee doesn't have exactly right: as I understand it (and I've administered a few Facebook fan pages and have actually done some research on all this), if you comment on people's statuses anywhere outside of your school's page, it'll show up as you, not the school. So you can't really do that and expect it to drive traffic.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:31 PM on December 9, 2010

Bluedaisy is correct - you can't interact with other facebook content as "your school" if "your school" is properly set up as an official page (that is, anything you do outside of your school page will have your profile name attached, not that of "your school")
posted by davey_darling at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2010

bluedaisy gets you off to a great start. The other thing I'd do is create school happenings as events on your school's page, so that people can RSVP to them. Not to get an official RSVP count, but it just gives people another way to interact with the page. Post photos from events after the fact and tag people in them if you can. (You can only tag people in photos if you personally are friends with them, even if they are a fan of the page, which makes that challenging. Events are similarly annoying in that you can only invite your personal friends. But you can send a bulk message/update to all fans of your page about an event. GRAR someday I hope Facebook fixes some of the things that suck about fan page management...)

phunniemee does have a good idea about asking questions in the status updates. I've found that really brings in a lot more participation than just "here is some information or an informative link."

Start up a Google alert for your school's name so if it's ever in the news you can post links to it (assuming it's good of course).
posted by misskaz at 2:15 PM on December 9, 2010

At the moment I'm monitoring one or two corporate pages rather closely in a matter unrelated to schools, but what I am seeing is a train-wreck in slow motion. There are several "dos and don'ts" to be gleaned from what I am seeing:

-- Mind that the informal / semi-formal context is misleading: make sure all your posts are well-founded; they will be seen as official statements from the school.
-- If you do post something erroneous, clear it up as soon as possible.
-- Don't remove any posts, apart from the obvious such as profanity (which you hopefully won't be confronted with all too often).
-- As mentioned above, interact with your followers / "likers" regularly, but not too often. Once a day around the same time should be ideal, otherwise publish a schedule.
-- Make sure you follow up of any questions that cannot be answered immediately as soon as possible. Don't break a leg, but if you say "shortly" then don't wait a month to post an answer.
-- Make a FAQ available, maybe on the school's web page; make sure your facebook users can find it. Make sure it is up-to-date.

I know many of these points are obvious, but boy, are some companies capable of getting it wrong, with a net negative effect - they would be better off dropping the whole thing, but doing that would cause too much of a bru-ha-ha in its own right.

This may all sound overly negative, but these are the issues I am seeing; I don't know for sure, but I could imagine that it can be very rewarding running such a page, if you manage to hit the right tone.

One last thing: make sure you have the support of the school's administration. You will need access to information and answers also to difficult questions; the administration must be aware that at least for some people, you will be the voice of the school, and that it will reflect badly on them (and not you personally) if you do not have access to the information you need to run the page.
posted by labberdasher at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2010

Thanks for the great ideas, everyone. I appreciate the help.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:13 AM on December 11, 2010

« Older Help my husband pick out a travel toiletry case   |   Open Source Tool For Reading Palm OS datebook... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.