Most principals and teachers know that social media — especially LinkedIn — is a powerful tool to connect with their community organizations, sister institutions, parents, and alumni. They even have a LinkedIn account for their school. But how to start utilizing LinkedIn to its fullest?
10 Easy Steps
- Accurate contact info. In the “About” section of your school’s LinkedIn profile, make sure your contact information is correct — especially your web address. Occasionally, fake profiles surface. The quickest way to get them disbanded is to point them out to LinkedIn itself. That way, you’ll make sure your school isn’t accidentally mistaken for a fake, while ensuring that fans who want to connect with your school in real life can.
- Iconic cover photo. While you may assume faces of your students will be the most engaging on social media, but the majority of the people on LinkedIn are community professionals and alumni — and most won’t recognize the children on campus. What they will connect with is a campus photo that includes iconic landmarks or buildings that are easily recognized or remembered.
- Profile photo. This thumbnail sized image is the main icon people see when scrolling through their feed. It needs to be simple, easily recognized, and without text (since no one will be able to read that tiny print anyway). Maybe it’s a widely-known school mascot, the school logo, or the school seal.
- Utilize photos. Posting text with photos or videos (even handheld iPhone videos) will do better on LinkedIn than a post without an image. Include a yearly photo release form as part of your enrollment process, so you can share photos of students with your posts. For the majority of students, you’ll be able to get authorization to use their images in your school’s social media outreach. When you do, make sure to tag the family in your post, so they see their son or daughter at the outreach activity. However, ensure you have a clear process and plan, so that you never use a child’s image without documented permission from the parent/guardian.
- Upload captions. The vast majority of social media video content is consumed without sound. This means that if your video needs words, you need captions. There are many captioning tools to choose from. Once you select your favorite, you can easily upload a captioned .SRT file with your video on LinkedIn.
- Create a content strategy. As content strategist and national speaker, Andy Crestodina says, content strategy starts with publishing, “We are where audience X gets content Y for benefit Z.” Generally those on LinkedIn are looking for inspiration and knowledge to help them grow in their industry, and earn job opportunities. Using that information, a simple content strategy might be, “We are where alumni and community members get inspired by our students, learn from our faculty and discover the amazing things that our alumni and parents are doing.”
The strategy in practice could mean:
- ⅓ of the posts will inspire others with how our school is making a difference in the community, which also shows our core values and culture.
- ⅓ of the posts will offer professional development tips for teachers/administrators from our staff.
- ⅓ of the posts will spotlight the cool things our parents, staff and alumni are doing in the community.
- Tag people. If you’re sharing a story about an alumni or an outreach at a soup kitchen, tag the organization and people in your post. Type @[NAME] and press enter when you’ve found their organization. You’ll know you’ve tagged someone if the name is in bold. Check the link after publishing to make certain you’ve tagged the correct person or organization. If not, edit your post, delete the tagged name, and try again.
- Respond. Once you start creating content, you’ll get replies, shares and likes. Make sure to respond and like your fans’ comments to encourage them to continue engaging with your content. If you get complaints, respond kindly and professionally to resolve the situation. Don’t delete the post unless it contains vulgar content. If someone has a valid compliant, how you respond and make the situation right will show your organization’s character to those who come across the post later.
- Create a content calendar. Whether it’s an Excel sheet, Outlook calendar, or a collection of sticky notes, build a calendar to plan out the majority of your posts ahead of time. If you utilize a publishing platform like Sprout or Hootsuite, you’ll even be able to schedule out your posts for the month.
- Share with your biggest fans. When you post, send an internal email with a heads up for your faculty, so they can like and share the post too if they’re interested. People are much more influential than organizations on social media, so empower your faculty with great posts that they can share on their profile.