These are the Days: Lessons in Content Planning

At The Agnon School, a community Jewish day school located in Beachwood, Ohio, we set out to enhance our social media reach and interaction in order to attract additional students to the school. 

One of the first things we did was to conduct a survey of our constituents – primarily our parents and prospective parents – to see what types of social media they were using most frequently.  Through the survey, we discovered that Facebook was most often used.  

As a result, we increased our use of Facebook by posting engaging items on a daily basis each week.  We developed the following weekly schedule:

  • Mondays:  We posted an article of interest written by a national education expert for our target audiences to read (articles were not specific to our school).
  • Tuesdays:  We posted a video or photo album related to activities happening at the school (including special programs or simply everyday learning).
  • Wednesdays:  We posted a fun and/or thought provoking question and parents could respond to the question.
  • Thursdays:  We had “Throwback Thursdays” and posted an alumni photo with an accompanying question or invitation to interact and share.
  • Fridays:  We posted our Head of School Shabbat blog.

We found that student photos sent out on Tuesdays and Thursdays received the most attention.  In addition, photos of people holding signs with key messages regarding fund raising also generated a tremendous amount of attention for our benefit golf outing.

In addition, we pre-posted articles on Mondays to make sure we have regular posts.  In order to increase interest on the other days of the week, we learned through trial and error that Wednesday’s “question of the day” needs to be simple in order to get responses.  We plan on changing the questions for this day to something shorter in order to encourage more responses.  Plus, we plan on giving the Head of School’s blog on Fridays a more attention-getting name.  We are also considering the pros and cons of paid posts.

However, our ultimate goal was to have our followers “like” or “share” all of our weekly posts.  Through this exercise, we discovered that we needed social media ambassadors to engage and support participation.   To achieve the best results, we e-mailed some of our key parent ambassadors and requested that they “like” or “share” our posts.  This worked so well that we decided to create a Social Media Support Committee for the 2014 – 2015 school year.  This committee’s sole job will be to simply “share” Agnon’s Facebook posts.

What’s more, we were introduced to a number of new tools to assess metrics.  We learned a great deal about our posting habits relative to the types of postings that appeal to our audiences and the most optimal posting times.

 

The Agnon School participated in the 2013-14 cohort of the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy, 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 with the tag #jdsacademy

Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment

 

LBTV (Leo Baeck TV)

Given the power of online videos, we inaugurated LBTV Action News as a vehicle for telling the school’s story. In 60 to 90 second installments, students did standup spot “news reports,” on selected events and subjects. It was effective in terms of growing our social media reach. Parents are our main audience on Facebook – which is our main social medium — and they love seeing children doing the presenting as well as being the subjects of a video. It lent an additional appeal, as opposed to watching the expected administrator or teacher talking head tell about the school. And they were eager to share the Facebook postings, as well. Some of our most shared and far-reaching videos on Facebook were LBTV Action News items.

It is a win-win: not only does this provide a framework for packaging video items, but it’s a worthwhile learning experience for the students, who gain amateur TV reporter experience. One Grade 8 student even mentioned in her reflection at graduation ceremony that being an LBTV Action News reporter was one of the highlights of her year.

My background as a radio news reporter came in handy in developing a few basic guidelines for the students: how to prepare an intro, segue to an interviewee and how and what to ask, and summing up in an extro/sign off. They learned the proper way to stand, hold a mic, and to think in terms of their audience of Internet viewers watching a small frame video screen.

The Middle School teachers selected a news team; I called upon those students in turn when a newsworthy event came up. It was interesting to observe the qualitative growth of each reporter over time.

Some of the highlighted news reports included coverage of Toronto’s Jewish day school Debate Tournament, hosted at our school; coverage of the Jewish day school Cross Country Meet; Talent Shows; and innovative programs that engaged parent and grandparent participation in the curriculum.

Videos of course go far in opening the walls of the school for parents to witness the “magic” of what goes on in school between drop off and pick up. But adding this TV news “packaging” allows for student involvement and a ready-made format.
 

David Bale is the Director of Communications at The Leo Baeck Day School.

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 with the tag #jdsacademy

Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment

5 Social Media Lessons for Early Childhood Centers (Plus a Little Healthy Attitude)

When I was first asked to write a blog, I started paying more attention to what other bloggers were writing about and what I liked about their blogs and what I didn’t like.  It became very clear, very quickly what I liked were the ones that were written with a bit of snarkiness to them.  Not sure if snarkiness is even a word [editor's note: for the purposes of this blog, snarkiness is 100% legit], but found out through blogging, that it is used quite often. I also found that I liked the blogs to be short and to the point and of course be relevant to my interests.

I am the Director of Temple Beth El’s Early Childhood program located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  My assistant Heather and I participated in the Detroit Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy this year that was 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.  When I first heard the words "Social Media Academy", the thought that came to mind was Facebook and Twitter, and who doesn’t know how to use it Facebook, and why do I want to be bothered with Twitter? I felt confident in Facebook and how I was helping to promote my school by posting cute pictures of the kids and promoting Temple and school events.  Who knew it could be so much more. 

We were assigned a coach to help us discuss our goals.  We focused at first on Facebook because that was what we knew.  Our Facebook page was off to a pretty good start, but one of our goals was to get more parent involvement.  The first thing we realized was that our pictures were getting a lot of likes and views, so we started using Fotor.com, a site that allows you to easily create a photo collage and upload it to Facebook.  No more photo albums!  The next thing we did was add cute quotes to our pictures, using Quotescover.com and PicMonkey.com to help us layer quotes on top of our pictures.  Sure enough, we began to see that we were getting more likes, more hits, but still not a lot of comments.

The next thing we did to increase our Facebook audience was to make sure that we add a FB pin to the bottom of our e-mail correspondence that we send out and a reminder to Like us on FB on all written correspondence.

Once we felt we have exhausted FB, our coach suggested we try to involve not only our ECC audience, but our Temple audience as well.  Each month I am responsible for writing a monthly article for our Temple and I have begun adding educational tips for parents.  Each tip is then entered to our newly created Pinterest Boards.  Who knew Pinterest was even considered a social media site?  Now we are connected through Facebook and Pinterest.  I must say, it does become a little addicting but mostly rewarding to see my staff, parents and people who I don’t even know, following us on Pinterest.

So to summarize our goals and accomplishments in 5 easy steps, here they are for all you newbies:

1. Bulletin articles. We are all writing them, but what for? This is the place to start. Begin here by writing an article with the purpose of recycling it throughout your social media outlets. This article can LIVE ON! Include monthly “tips.” Include text that could be a subtitle to a photo.  An example:

Lauren’s monthly learning lessons are all about socialization.  Enjoy! 

Lauren’s Top 7 Tips to encourage Socialization:

  1. Teach kids words like: “Please help me,” “I need to learn this.” Model the language you would like the kids to use when they need help.
  2. Ask one child to ask another child a question about the toy they are playing with.
  3. Pair two children together and ask them to find a toy to play with together.
  4. Play follow the leader.
  5. Have children take turns making facial expressions and ask the other children to tell you what type of expression that child is making.
  6. Play the “Name” game.
  7. Talk about feelings.  Sad, embarrassed, surprise, hesitant, overwhelmed. Give them the vocabulary they need to express their feelings.

 

2. Facebook Pictures Next step …… this is where things get easier. Use the article to establish a story that you will share throughout the month. The tips section of the article will be used as an outline. We know Facebook fans prefer pictures, in fact, photos get 39% more interaction according to Fast Company. Start by reviewing your school’s photos, set up photo opps of your students that represent your tips. Use Quotescover.com or PicMonkey.com to caption the photos. No more drafting up the best caption. The captions can be verbatim to the tips in your article.  Remember, you are not generating content but REUSING your own!

 

3. Facebook Campaigns. Psst! Did you know you can schedule posts on Facebook? This makes campaigns so much easier! Simply draft your post, with your photo that represents your article, and then schedule it. By reviewing Facebook Insights, you will know the very best times that you should schedule your posts. Schedule these posts to “fire” all through-out the month. [Editor's note: make sure to remember what you've scheduled.  On rare occasions a worldly or local event may make your scheduled content appear insensitive or inappropriate, so keep in mind you may need to unschedule or edit if needed.]

4. Pinterest. Ready? Simply set up a board with theme of your tips. Spend a few minutes searching for tips that relate to your tips. A few pins are all you need to get started. Add a few more each week. By spacing out your Pinterest activity, you will increase your visibility. When you share often, more people will see your pins and those pins lead people back to your page by displaying your details about the pin. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-get-more-pinterest-followers/

5. Promote it.  Mention it in-depth in a bulletin article, this will give your readers a clue that you are doing more and are setting trends on social media. Include social media buttons in your email signature. Connect your social media networks. Include it on everything you send home to families. Personally ask your families to comment on your social media.

Is this cheating?? NO WAY! First, you are probably reaching different audiences by spreading your article out this way. Second, no marketer should rely on one method to spread their word. Third, remember the Rule of Seven. (http://thebabyboomerentrepreneur.com/258/what-is-the-rule-of-seven-and-how-will-it-improve-your-marketing/)

What I’m dying to find out is how to continue to improve my monthly article. Do you have any ideas? Moving from “a review of the month” to parenting/educating issues and ideas has been a start, but what is the next level? How can I increase my readership? How can I increase my readerships engagement levels to more than just a “Like”?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

3 Key Lessons from the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy

This year, I had the privilege to attend Darim Online’s JDS Social Media Academy together with a team from Frisch. Our team consisted of myself who handles the academic side of our social media, Mrs. Cheryl Leiser, our Alumni Coordinator, Mrs. Rachel Roth, our Director of Development, and Mrs. Elaine Weitzman, our Executive Director. Entering the program, we already had an active presence in social media through our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channel, Flickr, and Instagram and have used our social media effectively for high profile events like Shiriyah.  We were very excited about this opportunity that would enable us to further hone our practices and expand our social media capacity.

Over the course of the year, we were given a personal coach, Ms. Farra Trompeter from Big Duck and access to regular webinars, both those presented by the ever knowledgeable Ms. Lisa Colton of Darim and those coordinated from our fellow Jewish Day Schools in the Social Media Academy. Farra gave us much to read about, think about, and discuss and the webinars also greatly expanded our knowledge base about what was “out there” in the non-profit social media world. Most importantly, our participation in this program forced us to reflect on our own practices, both what was working well, and what could be improved upon. This type of reflection is highly important, to “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey says, but often hard to schedule time for in the busy world of a Jewish Day School.

The numbers speak for themselves. Our Frisch Facebook page has doubled its fan base. At the start of the year, our Likes were in the 500 range, and currently we have crossed the 1000 Like threshold. More importantly, we have increased our level of Engagement with our stakeholders and this in turn has greatly expanded our Reach. These terms might seem foreign to you. I did not know much more than the idea of collecting Likes prior to attending this Academy. But through the patient prodding and explanations of our coach and the research she shared with us, I have learned how important these items are. Let me explain.

1.  Learn the Facebook algorithm to increase your Reach and Engagement.. This is obvious to most users of Google. You search with Google because it does not just list every single website with a given term but has a mathematical formula to rate what it gives back to you based on level of importance. The more useful the information is to you, the more you will continue to use Google for search. What I discovered in this academy was that Facebook does the same thing, not with Search but with the ever important Timeline. Facebook is not Twitter. It does not just give you a constant stream of everything that your Friends and the organizations you follow post. Rather it collates these posts and decides to show you only the posts that it deems are most important to you.

Why should Jewish Day Schools care about this minutiae? Because we have to if we want those who Like us to see our stuff. Facebook gauges who to show our posts to based on something called Engagement. It recognizes that there every Page has a small group of highly engaged fans. It first sends each page’s posts to these fans, usually about 15% of the total number of people who Like your page. Then if these fans engage with the post by clicking on it, liking it, commenting, or sharing, then it sends it to more fans and if they engage with the post more. This is what then helps increase the total Reach of your post. So you do need to care about this if you want parents, students, board members and other stakeholders to see your posts. Our Facebook can only be a “Window into what’s happening at Frisch”, if people can look through the window. These are all items that we learned through the JDS Social Media Academy.

2. Plan Your Posts. We also learned the need to try to post every day, preferably two or three times daily. Less than that and people will not be engaged. More than that and Facebook will stop putting your posts on users’ timelines. We learned to look for the best time to post. We found that posts in the afternoon got higher levels of engagement than posts in the morning. And the time that the largest number of our fans were online was actually later at night between 9-10PM. We learned the best types of postings to maximize engagement, lots of pictures, links, and videos, not just Status Updates.

3. Putting it all together: Although we have punctuated many past fundraising campaigns with posts on our social media, we were able to put together all of these valuable lessons from this past year to run our first ever fundraising campaign primarily driven through social media, our Support the Cougar Campaign for our Sports Breakfast. In this campaign, we not only reached our fundraising goals but were able to help develop our branding and school spirit by bringing our Cougar back as a symbol of our various sports teams. This campaign involved every member of our school community including our parents, students, teachers, alumni, parent alumni, and the list goes on and on. One suggestion that Farra gave us was to photograph students, teachers, and faculty with the Cougar at various events or just around the school holding up signs saying things like “We Support the Cougar” or “The Hockey Team Supports the Cougar”. This became so popular amongst our students that out student produced newsletter decided to create graphics and write articles about Supporting the Cougar and our Frisch Student Video Production Club created a video with a Rocky theme, since our special guest at our Sports Breakfast was the Modern Orthodox boxer Dmitriy Salita. You can watch a recording of our presentation to our fellow JDS Academy members using this link. (We are around the 45 minute mark.) Here is the presentation about our Support the Cougar Campaign.

Altogether, we found this experience to be a very positive one. We learned how to utilize social media to further engage with our students, parents, alumni, and other stakeholders so we can continue to spread the word about all of the great goings on as we provide a view inside the Frisch experience. Thank you Lisa, Farra, and all of the other people at Darim Online, See3 Communications, and the Avi Chai Foundation for making this possible.

 

Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky is the Director of Educational Technology at The Frisch School. He tweets at @TechRav.

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 with the tag #jdsacademy

Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment

Social, More than Media: A Lesson in Involving Others

This year, the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh embarked on our inaugural social media fundraiser. Seeing how many people we were able to reach was eye opening.  At the same time I realized how many people we could have reached.

I learned that on my own, I could put a lot of effort into this type of project but it could only go so far.  This experiment illustrated just how much more we could accomplish if others were involved.  Involving others helps to ensure that you will reach a larger audience of potential donors.  Thus, my goal for future fundraisers is to assemble a team that will share the responsibility.

This fundraiser also showed clearly having a narrow focus made our efforts more fruitful. This year we raised money in memory of a very special young woman whose life was taken prematurely. In the short time she was on this earth, she touched many people, both young and old.  Our appeal gave people an opportunity to make an enduring impact in her memory.

As we brainstorm future social media fundraisers, I am going to continue to look to our community for ideas of what will be particularly meaningful to and for them.

 

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 with the tag #jdsacademy

Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment

 

It’s Everyone’s Job. Plan For It.

As we often say at the Davis Academy, life is a journey: a journey of learning and discovery; a journey that embraces family and community; a journey that broadens our world.  As we embarked on the 2013-14 school year, our advancement team joined together on a year-long journey to better define what social media looks and feels like at the Davis Academy. This journey has provided us the opportunity to reflect on how we utilize social media and how we can better engage our constituents via the various avenues of social media. Prior to embarking on this journey, we were already using social media (Facebook and Twitter, in particular, to various degrees); however, we had not been very strategic about our approach.

This journey, our Jewish Day School Social Media Academy experience, has given us the coaching, guidance (and nudging) we needed to go outside of our comfort zones and to experiment with new approaches, strategies, and projects. Our biggest takeaway has been the simple realization that social media is everyone’s job and that timing is everything. That being said, with the guidance of our amazing coach, we have taken a closer look at defining our social media policy, developing our content curation strategy, and are striving to further empower the members of our community to authentically become involved in the SM storytelling through formal trainings. 

Many members of our community (faculty, parent ambassadors, alumni and administrators) have an established social media presence, and it has been a yearlong goal to streamline this activity into a more collaborative effort.  All of our constituents have amazing content to share individually, but by sharing collectively the impact is significantly more powerful. In order for the shared effort approach to work, we have quickly realized that some formal training is imperative.

We have identified a core group of Host Committee Members/Parent Ambassadors/Faculty Members who already recognize the tremendous value and the impact that social media can have, and we are using this core group to train and engage others as well.  While much of this training took place midway through the school year this year, we recognize that there will be much greater momentum in future years when these trainings occur right from the start. In the fall, as part of our Host Committee kick off, our parent Co-Chairs will begin with a dialogue around social media (as we have done for the previous two years).  This dialogue will then be extended into a hands-on application session in our Tech Lab where the co-chairs will walk parents through the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter (aka Facebook/Twitter 101).  Together, they will have the opportunity to explore the Davis Academy Facebook page, Twitter handle and grade level specific hashtags, interact with the already existing content, and curate new content themselves in a supported setting.  We want our parent ambassadors and host members to feel empowered to post, share, tag, like, and comment as they go about their everyday activities. In a similar fashion, our faculty and administration also are taking a more formal approach to SM training and are holding sessions for other key players like parents, grandparents, and teachers to join in the collaboration. 

Thanks to the monthly webinars, coaching calls, and ShareFests with other JDS Social Media Academy schools, we feel we are better equipped to use social media as a communications tool to reach more families and community members.  We look forward to involving more constituents and improving our practices to tell The Davis Academy story through these valuable channels.

 

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 with the tag #jdsacademy

Keep Momentum Over the Summer

The Jewish calendar is great for pacing our lives, for embracing the seasons, and appreciating things in their own time.  Summer, however, sometimes feels like it can derail the communications momentum we've worked so hard to build over the year.  Especially in educational organizations where classes don't meet over the summer (and where staff may be only working part time, or not at all), it's important to pay special attention to your summer social media plans.  Thus from our staff, and the wisdom of the crowd!

CONSISTENCY  Maintaining consistency is important both to keep up your ranking so your content will appear in newsfeeds, but it's also important to keep people in the habit of being engaged.  You've worked to get people engaging with your posts — keep it up.  It's also a great way to introduce and integrate new families into your community.   Make a point of posting at least once or twice a week.  Use the scheduling function in Facebook or a third party tool like HootSuite to schedule posts if you need plan ahead.

CONTENT  If you've used the POST planning process to identify the "sweet spot" of content that's both mission centric and of practical value to your audiences, you know how important it is to find the right content.  What do your audiences need over the summer?   Tips for events and opportunities in your local community?  How about ideas of fun summertime care packages to send to camp?  Or links to back to school preparedness? Tova Otis suggested in the JDS Social Media Academy Facebook Group that she posts links to school supply sales in their community.  Even links to fun activities like this list of creative things to do for under $10 or how to make quick kosher dill pickles with your cucumber harvest, other fun things you can find on Pinterest. (Got links to share?  Add them in the comments)

CONTRIBUTIONS  How can you get people participating in your Page even if they are not walking through your door?  How about a photo contest to have people submit a picture of their adventures over the summer, or wearing their school t-shirt in exciting places?  Invite your audience to send a postcard — a real one which you can scan and post online, or a virtual one by posting on your Page.  Do a virtual scavenger hunt.  Promote these invitations both on your page, and through email and other vehicles with links to help them take immediate action.

CONVERSATION  Keep the conversation going.  What questions can you ask that inspire people to speak up ("Where are kids going to camp this summer? What's your favorite ice cream flavor?) or chime in?  Ellen Dietrick asked her community to vote on the color t-shirt for the coming year and got dozens of responses – some serious, some silly!  Remember to be LISTENING as much as TALKING. If you're not in the office make sure you're getting notifications (by email, or on your phone or tablet) so you can monitor and facilitate conversation as people chime in!

How will you keep momentum during the summer?  What kinds of content will you post?  How do you structure your time over the summer to keep momentum?  Share in the comments.  Happy summer!

 

 

Teachers Teaching Parents to Parent: A Lesson in Content Curation

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.

I like the new book "iRules" very much a parent's perspective–not research based. I also like selections from "The Parent App" and "Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out." (Devorah Heitner)

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!

Social Media Super Powers

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.

 

 

 

Reclaiming My Social Media

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

  1. Social media is social. Cleaning out people who watch but don’t share.
  2. There’s enough hatred in the world. Cleaning out people who consistently add more hatred, and deleting sarcastic comments.
  3. My social media is safe place for expression. Cleaning out anything or anyone who makes it unsafe.
  4. Done with narcissism. Cleaning out narcissists and limiting “selfies”.
  5. Respect. Fostering respect for one another on my social media.
  6. Humor. Adding humor and joy to my social media, and inviting others to do so.
  7. Music. Adding music that will make people smile or dance and inviting others to do so.
  8. Educating. Posting something that people will learn from. Making everyone a teacher and learner.
  9. Repairing the world. Adding something to social media that will make the world better.
  10. Adding passion. Inviting everyone to share their passions on my social media.
  11. Sharing something personal and inviting others to do so. Taking risks is part of social media.
  12. 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.
  13. Learning silence. Not every comment needs a response. Respecting people’s comments by letting them be.
  14. 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.
  15. Reaching out to someone new. Adding a new contact regularly. You should try it, too.
  16. Looking backwards. Some past posts no longer reflect who I am today. Cleaning up and trashing what no longer fits.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Promoting someone else today. Maybe their business or career, or their value as a friend.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. I use Shabbat to turn off for a day. I encourage you to take a weekly social media fast.
  23. 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.
  24. Practicing humility. The insight I share on social media might be valuable. But considering the possibility that it isn’t.
  25. 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.