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.
I figured between having a Facebook account and teenage daughters, I would be ahead of the game in this process. Yet even with my familiarity with social media tools, participating in the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy really put me into the shoes of our students.
Our school was at a unique disadvantage in the marketing process – we have little administration, a small parent body and no alumni. While being described as a technology-driven school put us into a broad category of educational institutions, our goals differed from other establishments under the “technology” umbrella. Our primary objective was to educate the community on our mission and philosophy; to avoid being considered “a school with computers”. Blended learning means different things to different people, and our work with the JDS Social Media Academy gave us the necessary tools and strategies to spread our message and correct the misconceptions about our school.
Our Facebook Page has developed into a dynamic instrument; a living, breathing creature that communicates our vision. The Jewish community at large has been fascinated with our school from its inception; pre-conceived notions flew around Shabbat tables, and opinions followed suit. Truth be told, there was no way to distribute the real information because there was not yet any evidence. September 2012 came and went, and Yeshivat He’Atid is thriving as a Jewish Day School operating with a blended learning model. Through the mentorship of the JDS Social Media Academy, we have learned to target our social media audiences and showcase our evidence.
On September 16, 2012 – a few weeks into our inaugural school year – we posted a “Happy New Year” message on our Facebook page. For a brand new school of 116 students, the viewing statistic was encouraging.
Following training in strategic social media use, here is a screenshot of our Yom Ha’atzmaut Facebook post:
Close to 2000 people saw this post, the overwhelming majority being viral! Using Facebook and other social media tools systematically and strategically has unveiled what we are all about. Perhaps most notably, it has allowed us access to a broad, very curious audience, and let us mitigate the pre-conceived notions through a forthcoming and non-threatening avenue.
Having the tools, using the tools, and using the tools properly are three very different things. It is easy to put a computer in a classroom. It is even easy to turn it on. The challenge is to effectively and efficiently provide a targeted, personalized experience. While our teachers and students have immersed themselves in our brand of blended learning and met this challenge head on, I have incorporated this same philosophy on the business end. I had the tools. I used the tools. With the unwavering support of the JDS Social Media Academy, I now use the tools effectively and efficiently, providing a targeted, personalized experience. And we have the data to prove it, both in the classroom and out.
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 2012-13 nationwide cohort of 20 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
The 2013-14 cohort is currently in formation. If your school or community is interested in more information, please contact Lisa Colton.