The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy exceeded all of our expectations and in many ways has taught us “how to fish.” We still have work to do in terms of our policies, our long-term goal-setting, and the benchmarks we want to set for ourselves, but we now have a direction and a pretty sweet compass. With Facebook as the primary social media platform utilized by our school families (past, present, and probably future), that’s where our focus began. But it was just the tip of the icebook.
OUR THREE MAIN TAKEAWAYS
1. There’s More to Facebook than Cute Faces
Through the Academy, we were able to develop an authentic voice and an organized strategy for Facebook. Sure, we still use it as a window onto the school, but we have learned how to use it to facilitate conversation, spark discussion, and communicate widely. The days of posting a cute picture aren’t gone, but the days of only posting cute pictures sure are! We are being more thoughtful, intentional, and creative about using Facebook for:
– Certain school-related announcements (e.g. a school-closing announcement Vine)
– Sharing information from our community partners
– Celebrating school and community accomplishments
– (Re)Connecting with alumni
– Linking to holiday and other Jewish-related resources
– Posting educational videos (e.g. TED Talks)
2. Smarts & Strategy: How, When, and Why to Use Social Media
Still, it’s not just about quantity. Over this year we learned with and from others about how, why, and when to use social media. For me as Head of School, the part of our Academy project that had the most impact was exploring how to bring my own voice to our school twitter account (@CHALeads). To let my voice be the school’s voice and to identify it as such—as opposed to our twitter feed being essentially anonymous. While the number of (publicly identifiable) followers hasn’t skyrocketed, the quality of my twitter conversations certainly has. Through working with Liz at Big Duck and Lisa at Darim, I’ve found a way to bring my own voice forward as a representation of our school. As the school’s head, it’s important to me (not to mention my responsibility) to be present everywhere I can, and Twitter is an entire universe to be present in at any time.
3. Setting Fundraising Goals: Clear, Urgent, and Achievable
Our culminating project through the Academy was our CrowdRise fundraiser, a social/viral one never seen before in our community. Based on one of our new initiatives (“Community of Kindness”) that speaks to all different people in the Jewish community here (i.e. not just our existing families), we built the fundraiser around three motivators:
- The limited window of availability of the AVI CHAI Foundation matching funds
- The relative down time in our overall fundraising calendar
- Achievable, conceivable goals
Our initial fundraising goal was $5,000, which we thought was reasonable and achievable in the 5-week window of the campaign. Thanks to the urgency of the match and the sharing that some of our friends did online, the message spread, and we surpassed the original goal with time to spare. We were able to also use an iPad Mini as a bit of a carrot to dangle: donors of $36 or more were eligible to win it through a random lottery! So we revised it up and set the new goal at $10,000—an ambitious amount for a school our size and in a short time frame. We finished the campaign having raised over $8300!
All in all, the Academy project was a major success for us even without the fundraiser. Through the coaching calls and webinars, we were engaged in thinking about (and supported in implementing) several components of a social media strategy and action plan. While one year isn’t enough to see any of them come to full fruition, we’re now equipped with the tools to continue the process on our own.
Especially that compass!
Noah Hartman is the Head of School at Cohen Hillel 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 with the tag #jdsacademy
Complete the Social Media Self Assessment for your school at http://www.dayschoolacademy.org/assessment