Adding value in your social media channels is the number one way to compete in an attention economy. Knowing what value to add means being empathetic – understanding deeply where the pain points are for your audience, so you know how to help in mission-centric ways.
For many parents today, questions around appropriate use of technology and screens (large and small) are a daily preoccupation. From handing an iPhone into the back seat to keep a toddler occupied while in traffic, to helping teens navigate appropriate use of their own devices and freedom on the internet.
The bottom line is: Parents today are doing this for the first time. We’re pioneering. This technology did not exist when we were kids, so we have no models of how to parent around it. While there are no simple right or wrong answers, parents can learn a lot from a) experts in the developmental ages of their children, and b) what Jewish values and wisdom can offer to help guide our decision making.
That means Jewish schools and synagogues have a huge opportunity to curate content from expert sources and contextualize wisdom for parents. This kind of content can be curated throughout the year, but especially in the summer when there’s less “boots on the ground” storytelling, such curated content can become even more important to keep momentum on your channels. We asked some wise Jewish educators (including those in JEDLAB and Darim Educators Facebook Groups) for their best sources. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.
We love the folks over at The TEC Center and The Fred Rogers Center's new Ellie initiative. Both are about supporting educators in making informed developmentally appropriate choices for their schools and students. (Shariee Calderone)
Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools for Early Childhood Education. (Iris Koller)
Raising Digital Natives is a fantastic website run by Devorah Heitner who brings lessons and insights about creating a positive media ecology in one’s family. I particularly like this recent post about teaching your children responsible media behavior by modeling it as you take (and share) photos of them. / (Lisa Colton)
Danah Boyd's book, It's Complicated - The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Really a great counterpoint to a lot of the fear-mongering that's out there, and fabulous reporting. You can download as a PDF too! (Sophie Rapoport)
NAEYC has good resournces on technology and young children (Iris Koller)
Award winning app, Circle of 6, recognized by the White House Apps Against Abuse Challenge.
Anything from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center is great just for context (Russel Neiss)
Following American Academy of Pediatricians Guidelines on children and media is a must. (Russel Neiss)
Common Sense Media has great reviews of content, movies, sites with a breakdown on various attributes (violence, language, etc.) which I find very helpful as a parent, and is always available for quick reference on my phone when I need to answer if my kids can see XYZ movie, etc. (Lisa Colton)
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel is great for Parent discussions! (Susan Rosman)
Any other suggestions or resources you'd add to this list? Add them in the comments!
It’s Monday morning and the children are eager to come to school. On a normal day, they are greeted with a “Hello” or “Good morning. How was your weekend?” But today Ben walks through our doors and I say, “Hello Ben. How was your day out with Thomas the train?” And right then, something amazing happens.
Ben looks at me like I am almost magical. How did I know that he saw Thomas over the weekend? Is she psychic? Clearly she must be magical! Little did he know about my secret super power known as Facebook. Instead of simply saying hello back to me, Ben went into an excited story about his weekend adventures. This is what I call the Facebook connection; a special moment that would not have happened so easily and naturally without the super powers of social media.
So how did we gain these super powers? It certainly did not happen overnight and we weren’t bitten by a spider. It was a complex formula of trainings from the Jewish Community Center Association and Darim Online, mixed with dedication, teamwork and trial and error. We began by posting more and simply having a more visible presence on Facebook. Then, with the encouragement of Darim Online, we included more people to be admins and curators on our page and asked parents and staff to be intentional commenters. Along this journey we started to find out what worked well for our program and what posts were reaching farther outside our norm. Those that were successful we would duplicate when we could. For example, our Monday Morning Mystery.
Each Monday we would post three clues about a teacher and encourage our fans to guess who it was and the winner would receive a free challah on Friday when we revealed the teacher. We had so much fun with this that it actually evolved into baby pictures of staff rather than clues. Through this our families were learning more about our teachers and seeing into their lives a little more. And we were beginning to learn more about our families’ lives outside of the JCC through their posts, too. The Facebook connection was happening. Teachers and parents began to playfully banter through our posts. Parents began to see a more social, but still professional side of our staff. Relationships began to grow and our overall sense of community became stronger. Throughout the year we have heard our parents and fellow JCC staff tell us things like, “I love what you are doing on Facebook,” and “I check your page every morning to see what fun things you have posted.” For that alone we will continue to grow our community and keep our posts alive and fun. We have hopes of infusing more educational pieces for our fans and continuing to create an environment of discussion through our page. Until then, we will keep letting the children think we magically know what they do when they are not at school!
Shannon Hall is the Assistant Director of the Infant and Toddler program at the Pitt CDC. Shannon, along with Fredelle Schneider, Director, Robin Herman, Assistant Director of Preschool and several of the Pitt CDC teaching staff has participated in the Detroit Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy this year, coordinated by the Alliance for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and generously funded by the Hermelin-Davidson Center for Congregation Excellence.
As a rabbi and Jewish educational leader, I have used social media, including Facebook and Twitter, extensively. Sadly, in recent weeks there was an epidemic of the use of my social media in ways that I considered to be negative or insulting. We’re all had that happen: someone posts an insult or an obscenity and we have to decide how to respond to the situation and to the individual.
Cleaning up my social media mess is becoming a bit like a mikvah immersion. For a month, I am holding off my usual weekly routine of posting, and re-purifying and reclaiming my social media presence not only in reaction to a particular set of circumstances, but in a proactive way that will help me to lead that presence, both as an individual as well as professionally.
During the month, I’ve been renovating my Facebook and social media presence and creating, in effect, my own social media policy, so that my Facebook and Twitter presence reflects my values. The guidelines and day posts, which can be followed on my personal Facebook or on Twitter (@JewishConnectiv), with the hashtag #reclaimingmysocialmedia:
Social Media Cleanse
- Social media is social. Cleaning out people who watch but don’t share.
- There’s enough hatred in the world. Cleaning out people who consistently add more hatred, and deleting sarcastic comments.
- My social media is safe place for expression. Cleaning out anything or anyone who makes it unsafe.
- Done with narcissism. Cleaning out narcissists and limiting “selfies”.
- Respect. Fostering respect for one another on my social media.
- Humor. Adding humor and joy to my social media, and inviting others to do so.
- Music. Adding music that will make people smile or dance and inviting others to do so.
- Educating. Posting something that people will learn from. Making everyone a teacher and learner.
- Repairing the world. Adding something to social media that will make the world better.
- Adding passion. Inviting everyone to share their passions on my social media.
- Sharing something personal and inviting others to do so. Taking risks is part of social media.
- Setting limits. Prioritizing the 3 most important things to post daily, 5 comments I want to make to others and 10 things to “like” each day.
- Learning silence. Not every comment needs a response. Respecting people’s comments by letting them be.
- Exercising ownership. Nobody has an unlimited right to post or comment on my FB wall. Granting the privilege to those who are respectful and removing comments or people that aren’t.
- Reaching out to someone new. Adding a new contact regularly. You should try it, too.
- Looking backwards. Some past posts no longer reflect who I am today. Cleaning up and trashing what no longer fits.
- Stop using general posts when what I really need to do is to talk to one or two people about something. No sense in broadcasting what is really an issue that only involves a small number of folks.
- Posting something that doesn’t do anything for me but could really make a difference for someone else. Like a piece of wisdom or experience.
- Promoting someone else today. Maybe their business or career, or their value as a friend.
- Reducing use of my social media as free therapy for others. Being an online psychotherapist or relationship counselor does do them or me justice. Being a friend does.
- Letting go. I don’t watch to see who’s “unfriended” me. I figure anyone who does has a good reason and I respect that.
- I use Shabbat to turn off for a day. I encourage you to take a weekly social media fast.
- Setting a face-to-face or Skype or Hangout with someone I usually see only on social media. If the vast majority of your friendships are only on Facebook, it’s worth turning that around.
- Practicing humility. The insight I share on social media might be valuable. But considering the possibility that it isn’t.
- Stopping reading between the lines. A comment is a comment. If you think a comment needs exploration, ask. Most often, people say what they need to and that’s it.
Talmudic law speaks of our responsibility for any potential dangers that may lurk on property that belongs to us. Our online presence is no less our responsibility. I am neither the first nor the last to clean up his/her social media presence. I have found inspiration in those who have practiced greater mindfulness in regulating their social media involvement. And I am honored to know that many of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers have found value in my campaign and have begun actions of their own to take greater charge of their social media activities. In closing, I invite you to consider:
- What actions do you take to protect your social media presence and to assure that it reflects you and your values?
- How do you keep interactions (and the participants in those interactions) safe?
- If you were writing your “ten commandments” for your social media presence, what would they be?
Rabbi Arnie Samlan is executive director of Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami, FL and founder of Jewish Connectivity, Inc.
After completing our first-ever social fundraiser on Crowdrise this spring, there is no doubt it was the best learning experience of the Social Media Academy. We met our goal, reached new donors and developed new fundraising ideas for the future--all while having a lot of fun doing it.
Of course, we learned along the way and have a few lessons to share.
The Social Fundraising Age Gap: While it’s true that all ages are on social media these days, it’s not necessarily that everyone is engaging on social media—commenting and taking the call to action that we seek in our posts. Contrast these two cases:
- One donor who learned about our social fundraiser actually contacted The AVI CHAI Foundation (which was providing matching funds through the JDS Social Media Academy) after seeing no mention of their matching grant to us on their website. Really? Because it was certainly on the school website! That person had never heard of Crowdrise and was entirely skeptical. And although she was kind enough to donate, she did it by mailing in a check. It’s possible that she never uses her credit card online.
- Now, consider our seniors (students), who we engaged for Campus Fundraising. They wanted no information about our campaign after finding out that money went to our school. A fundraising team captain would say something like this: “You know Crowdrise? Well, go there and find the ‘AlmostAlumni’ link. Give me some money, and our team will win.” And then that student would whip out his phone and credit card and do exactly that. Engaging our seniors and planting the seed for future donations was the best part of our campaign.
Don’t Base Results on the First Few Days: We raised over $6000 in one week. It took three more to raise another $2500. Enough said.
Competition Was More Effective Than Prizes: The most aggressive fundraising happened when fundraising champions were motivated by winning. It didn’t really matter if they won a prize or not, they were excited by the challenge of beating their friends (or losing!) in public. Our best results came from alumni who knew each other and were motivated to stay ahead. One would get a donation and another would ask for that amount, plus $1 just to keep the lead. As for prizes, we didn’t see higher results from our champions or our donors based on incentives like Amazon gift cards, iTunes and even Passover shopping gift cards.
Wendy Margolin is the Director of Communications at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, IL. The school was on of 15 schools chosen to participate in the 2013-14 Jewish Day School Social Media Academy.
The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2013-14 nationwide cohort of 15 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation. Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here this spring with the tag #jdsacademy
Also, check out the Jewish Day School Social Media and Video Academy website, which includes a free self-assessment to help your school focus on key areas of growth in your social media work.
I have attended the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) three times, but this year's conference was my first time participating in NTCJews. Jews have been gathering at NTC for the past several years. Since I have always been active in the Jewish community - from BBYO to Hillel to Jewish organizations in the DC area, I was excited to have the opportunity to learn about technology with other Jews at the conference.
This year's theme was technology integration, and we heard three mini-case studies from organizations working to get technology out of the IT and Marketing Departments, and in use in service of wider organizational goals.
Alex Kadis from Repair the World shared the strategy behind their volunteer management system. After selecting and implementing the system, they were faced with issues including staff not making it a priority to enter the data and feature confusion. They learned through this experience the need to devote lots of time and energy to training. Their key lesson was to make it fun. They nicknamed the system "Spot" and called the trainings "Talk Nerdy To Me". Crisp design and a clear message helped get their fellows on board and created the tools to onboard new fellows each year.
Karen Alpert from Hillel International shared how they needed a way to measure impact, analyze which programs work best, and to not lose data. Hillel developed
REACH , a tool for local staff to keep track of how many students they are engaging on college campuses, which also allows Hillel International a wide view of the field. Even though the database has been successful in meeting their needs, they have been faced with challenges including user input and cultural shift. Their key lesson was to be clear with staff about why they need to use it. Younger staff especially will do it if they see it to be part of their job. Hillel listened to user input and made adjustments such as simplifying the user interface and limiting fields that overwhelmed users visually.
Yaniv Rivlin from The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network shared their experience with Friday Night Hack, an event that was held this past July. Programmers in both the Silicon Valley and Israel participated in a concurrent hack-a-thon to build two apps. One app was a Jewish college roommate finder for BBYO, and the other app was a continuation of a web application Hasadna started previously to promote the accessibility and transparency of budgetary data in Israel’s municipalities.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the session was the chance for NTCjews to dive deeply into themes raised in the presentations and submitted by participants prior to the event, such as
• Planning for mobile
• Developing an agile and iterative culture
• Moving people from online to offline engagement
• Technology to engage volunteers
• Technology integration across the organization
I really enjoyed my first NTCJews session and it was one of my favorite sessions at the conference. It was a great example of a session at NTC as the first two presentations showed a problem the organization had internally, how technology was used to help them solve the problem, and the challenges they faced. Understanding how leaders recognize and address a problem is much more educational than learning only about best practices.
Finally, it was a delight to be with many of the same people for Shabbat dinner on Friday night and hearing the funny d'var from Rabbi Laura Baum comparing the lessons of Purim to nonprofit technology. It's nice to be around other Jews.
Emily Weinberg is a nonprofit blogger. Her blog, The Nonprofit Blog Exchange, is a resource for nonprofits where she writes monthly roundups linking to nonprofit blog articles and has been recognized as one of the top 150 nonprofit blogs in the world. She also writes about nonprofits and social media on her blog, Emily's World. You can learn more on her LinkedIn profile.
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