An Instagram is Worth…

Editors note:  We often use this blog to highlight the wisdom and experience of those within our network.  Isti Bardos is the Communications Director at Temple Israel in Memphis.  On a recent webinar he was giving great advice to those getting started on Instagram, and we asked him to share some tips that make his Instagram efforts successful.

 

A picture is worth…Yup. We all know.

I would argue, however, that pictures – and videos – are worth much more than words, 1,000 or not.  Imagery evokes feelings, creates empathy and fosters meaningful, lasting relationships.  Isn’t that what our work in congregations is all about: building community and lasting relationships?

By sharing highlights and snippets of everyday life through Instagram, you are illustrating how your congregation is a community of meaning and purpose, not only an institution with "tushes in seats".  While some people may feel nervous about showing photos of people in your congregation, Instagram (and the sharing culture) is happening with or without you.  Be thoughtful about releases in your membership and registration materials (and avoid those who don't want their photos shared), but also recognize that many of the ever-so-coveted 20s/30s demographic are prolifically sharing their photos (and wanting to see those of others). A full 90% of those using Instagram are 35 or younger (data as of June, 2015 — older demographics are beginning to flock to Instagram too).

In addition to engaging the younger demographic, Instagram is a worthy social media platform because

1) It's in your congregation’s best interests to put your best face – literally and figuratively — out there!
2) Participating in Instagram a way to “show off” your congregation.
3) It's good to show a wide array of smiling faces, activities, and slices of life of your congregation!
4) By using Instagram, your congregation will be perceived as hip and modern, on top of the newest technologies.

Two questions people often ask are:

1) What should we post?
2) How often should we post?

To me, the answers are the same: Post good content when you have it.  But make a point of integrating great photography (on your phone!) into your routine so you have content at least a couple times a week.

#SHABBATSHALOM

If you don’t know where to start, start with a #ShabbatShalom message every Friday afternoon. (That # symbol, in today’s social media vernacular, is a hashtag. Hashtags allow you to search for items. For example, if you used the hashtag #ShabbatShalom, you would see only photos/videos from around the world that have that hashtag associated with it, which is pretty cool.)

So, simply take a photo of a smiling child at religious school.  While the culture of Instagram is to post photos immediately after they are taken, you can also have some "timeless" images that can be saved for a Friday post.  With these #ShabbatShalom postings, you will be sharing a photo at least once a week!

#TBT

Another example which could guarantee another weekly post, is #tbt. #tbt stands for “throwback Thursday.” It’s simply an easy way for you to post a video or photo of something that happened in the past, whether it was a year or 100 years ago.  This could be a childhood photo of your rabbi, or a memorable event in your congregation's past, like this picture from our congregation's 2008 trip to Israel.

So between #ShabbatShalom and #tbt, you already have guaranteed yourself at least two compelling Instagram posts a week, which a great start!

But you have an endless supply of other good, compelling content — here are some ideas and examples from our congregation:
volunteers
staff
families
events/programs
women’s and men’s clubs
beautiful facilities/campus
religious/Hebrew school tutors/teachers
different segments of your congregation
creative snapshots of congregational life
and, of course, smiling children

By the way, it’s important to use photo of people who are smiling, because smiling… is a cause of happy feelings!  …is contagious! …can make you healthier! …can be a predictor of how long you’ll live!   But also remember that Instagram's community values really great photography, including abstract shots of mundane things, insights into everyday moments, bold color and gorgeous patterns.  Like this photo of Hamentashen from OU Hillel.

Also, there is a sense of immediacy and connectivity with Instagram. For example, what is more interesting and interactive: reading – a month after the fact in a black and white newsletter – the sentence “Students watched a science demonstration involving Mentos and Diet Coke” or watching a 10-second video clip of a “volcano” erupting  a few minutes after the event took place – and then having the ability to provide immediate feedback?

Posting photos and videos to Instagram is less about the information and more about making emotional connections.  As people scroll through their Instagram feed, make sure that your congregation has a presence! Scroll through your Instagram feed periodically to see the "bigger picture" that new followers might find if they look at everything you've posted recently. 

If your congregation doesn’t use Instagram, start using it today. If you have an Instagram account, step your game up!  After all, if your congregation REALLY IS a vibrant, warm and welcoming congregational family, then SHOW IT!

Isti Bardos is Communications Director at Temple Israel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Maturing Your Social Media Practice for Synagogues: Follow Up Resources and Archives

Effective use of social media is critical today for being seen and understood, and developing relationships between and among your community members. This free 5 part series on the most important social media topics for synagogues today covers important and timely topics to help synagogue leaders — from novice to expert — take their digital practice to the next level.  These webinars run live in February and March, 2016.  You can sign up here for the next sessions in the series, and archives from previous sessions are below

Thanks to UJA-Federation of New York for supporting this series!

 

VISUAL STORYTELLING

Recording

Slides

Resources:
Pause Before You Post Video
G-dcast videos  (good for curation!)
iMedia Connection
Connected Congregations (more on building relationships and community)

A few synagogue Instagram accounts as examples:
Central Synagogue, New York (promotional)https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
Temple Israel, Memphis (people focused)
Sixth and I, Washington DC (events and great visuals)

Flickr
Hootsuite
Buffer App
Creative Commons Licenses

 

PAID MEDIA

Recording

Slides

More about the trifecta of owned, earned and paid media.

Google Grants — apply here!

Google Ads keyword planner

Facebook Ad Resources here and here.

Get started with Facebook ads!

 

COMMUNICATING FOR SOCIAL

Slides:  http://www.slideshare.net/darimonline/the-new-rules-community-building-in-the-age-of-social-maturing-your-synagogues-social-media-practice

Recording

The first TV commercial and a bit more about broadcast vs. social:

Examples shared:

Temple Israel on FB: https://www.facebook.com/TempleIsrael/

Chevra Ahavas Yisroel: https://www.facebook.com/chevraahavasyisroel/

Sixth and I: https://twitter.com/sixthandi

Blog post from The Community Synagogue: https://commsyn.org/blog/our-community-theater-tabernacle

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

Social Media Policy Workbook: http://darimonline.org/smpw

Facebook Pages vs. Groups:  http://mashable.com/2014/10/19/facebook-pages-groups-profiles/#rOHCfPl_amqU

Making Facebook Groups Rock (Miriam Brosseau on Beth Kanter’s blog): http://www.bethkanter.org/facebook-groups/

What is a hashtag?  http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/#FX58SJ6pXuqN

Good times to post on social media (but do your own testing and see!  Facebook Pages have great “insights” data):  https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2014/04/03/infographic-optimal-times-to-post-on-social-networks/

 

CONTENT STRATEGY AND EDITORIAL CALENDARS: REPRESENTING YOUR BRAND ONLINE

Recording

Slides

Finding your voice:  Social Media Policy Workbook

Editorial calendar template

Darim’s guest blogging guidelines
 

CROWDFUNDING

Recording

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/darimonline/intro-to-crowdfunding

Links to platforms:

http://crowdrise.com/

http://razoo.com/

http://kickstarter.com/

http://charidy.com/

http://jewcer.com/

NTCjews: Join Us at the Nonprofit Technology Conference

Have you been to the Nonprofit Technology Conference?  No?  Oh boy, you've gotta come.  It's a gathering of about 2000 of the country's most interesting do-gooders who use technology in any part of their work — from marketing and communications, to fundraising, to data management, and innovative leadership for cutting edge organizations.

Each year, we gather the Jews at NTCjews — many who work for Jewish organizations, and some who are Jewish and work for other organizations.  We share knowledge and experience, learn together, eat together and strengthen our network for support and inspiration year around.  We love bringing people from Jewish organizations here to learn about the best of what's happening across the nonprofit field.

This year NTC is March 23-25, 2016 in San Jose, California.  You should come! If you're interested in learning more about what we're doing there (learning sessions, networking, dinner together, Purim celebration) drop your name and email in the form below so we can make sure to keep you updated.

More info on the conference is here:  http://www.nten.org/ntc/

Get a little insight into why we love this conference:

 

Share your info below and we'll keep you posted on NTCjews plans and events!

The Power of an Invitation

Uber and AirBNB are proving the power and opportunity of a bottom-up model of organizing.  Empowered with technology, their own creativity and initiative, people today are less reliant on institutions than ever to achieve their own needs.  At the same time, smart platforms are critical for activating their curiosity and motivation.

So too in the Jewish community. We are beginning to see the shift in the market, and the emergence of new platforms to help people self-organize and build Jewish community and meaning.  While this brave new world may feel scary to organizational leaders, in my book it's a very healthy sign.  The question is, how are we as a field adapting to this new "economy"?

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Steven Price have been following these trends, and are re-energizing a very traditional idea: The Book Club.  Together, we've been asking ourselves, "How can we get more people developing deeper, more meaningful relationships, building Jewish community, and feeding their intellectual and spiritual curiosities together?"

Our research showed that the vast majority of people who aren’t currently in a book club, Rosh Chodesh group or another similar club are overwhelmingly interested in being part of such an experience.  Their primary reason for not yet being in a club?  No one has invited them.

Thus, we've designed Gather to find and empower initiators to start new groups, and invite others to join them.  It doesn’t mean they have to be the ongoing leader — they are simply the initiator.   There's no long term commitment, no expectations of what your group will be, no prescribed content. But we do have ideas, suggestions, discussion guides, and a concierge ready to help answer any questions. Gather is a platform to help those curious about Jewish learning and community to launch new group (with friends, acquaintances, family and/or new contacts) to build and strengthen relationships, and to engage in discussion around Jewish content and values.

We're just launching our beta phase, and we're inviting (see — get the theme here?) members of the Darim network to take it for a spin.  You can start a new Gathering yourself, and/or you can invite your own network to start their own groups.  Gather is a tool that can help places like synagogues and schools become more connected (and educated and engaged) communities, so it's an easy and powerful platform to help organizations dip their toe into the self-organizing, platform model that is such a powerful approach in today's culture.

Anyone can start a club, and any community can have multiple. For example, a dad with kids in the early childhood program might want to start a dads club, or maybe families with post-b’nai mitzvah teens might want to start a parent/child social justice book club.  Maybe 20-somethings want to get together to cook out of the Jerusalem and Zahav cookbooks, or members of your LGBTQ community want to get together more regularly in addition to Pride Shabbat.

Consider this your invitation — we would love for you to consider using Gather to engage with and support your community, and if you’re interested, help you plan the next steps. If you want to share with your community, we’re happy to create customized pages that promote the content that aligns most closely with your mission and goals, and the interests of your audiences (e.g. culture, cooking, music, Jewish classics like Buber and Heschel, etc.), and give you a link which will track participation from your network (and we're happy to share data with you).

Ultimately, we hope that these initiators become the leaders in your own community, and help to engage their peers in your mission and programs too. 

We know the power of an invitation is profound.  Who will you invite?

Want to take it for a spin?  Click here to see how simple it is to start your own Gathering. Want to invite your own community or network to initiate Gatherings? Feel free!  If you want your own link to track adoption, just drop Elyse Kort, Gather Project Director, a note.

Content That Travels: Engagement that Jumps From Online to Offline

As organizations invest in building online networks and deeper engagement with constituents, we constantly need to refocus on how that engagement leads to mission-centric action.  It’s not just enough to have eyeballs, or even likes.  What does it look like to design and implement an online strategy that has on the ground impact?  Specifically, how can your content jump offline?

One primary driver of this jump is value.  What content is of value to your audience, and what will they do with that value?  I like to think about this as a Venn diagram — one circle is your mission and goals, and the other are the very specific and honest needs of the people you’re trying to engage.  Only when you are able to create content in that “sweet spot” in the center can you really move the needs.  For your content to travel (online and offline), it needs to build the social capital of the people who are going to share it.  Why would someone want to claim your content as their own?  What does it say about their identity, values and/or interests?  Being brutally honest about this intersection is the first critical skill to solve this part-art-part-science question.

The second driver of traveling content is momentum. What is happening on the calendar, in politics, in local or world events that has created momentum in the news and in social media?  How can you surf that wave?  Remember when the lights went out at the Superbowl in 2013? Within minutes Oreo had launched “You can still dunk in the dark”  — a fantastic example of taking advantage of the momentum online at that moment.  Where is there natural moment that aligns with your mission and goals, and how can you create content to surf that wave?

The Jewish community at this time of year is a great example of such a wave — everything is about Passover.  The Passover seder is the most widely observed tradition in Judaism today.  As we recall the exodus of the Israelites from centuries of slavery in Egypt, themes of renewal, redemption, and freedom illicit a kind of surge of content from Jewish organizations of all types.  Individually, people are planning their seder — who to invite, how to make it special, and how to stretch the themes of the seder to be applicable to our modern world (and a diverse group of people around the table).

Many organizations publish Passover seder inserts – readings to complement the traditional Haggadah (book that tells the story of the exodus and sets out the order for the seder).  It used to be that these came in the mail to donors (and prospective donors). Today, they are published online and emailed as well as circulated through social media.  This approach is both cheaper (no printing and mailing!) and also allows the content to reach farther than an organization’s own mailing list.  

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.20.42 PM.png

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has always been one of my go-to Passover sources.  Their mission to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world aligns so well with the themes of the holiday, This year, they published a seder supplement written by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt focusing on the role of 5 women in the exodus.  Not only did the content align AJWS with the themes of the seder, but it capitalized on the theme of women.  This resources has been shared more widely in Facebook than anything I’ve seen lately.  As you can see here, 22 shares from the AJWS main Facebook page, and countless more links to it through individual profiles and organizational pages.  

Users then print the PDF and read from it at the seder, carrying the AJWS brand and mission to the table.  (I even once sent the PDF to FedEx Office to have it printed and laminated to use year after year.)  AJWS leverages the alignment of their mission with opportunity of the seder, and offers value to the audience by bringing a highly relevant and much adored voice — the Supreme Court Justice — to your own table.  A very smart and effective effort.

This year, Interfaith Israel is thinking about how to market their new summer Israel trip for teens from interfaith families.  They realize that educating people about the opportunity, plus making the case to send a teen on an overseas trip for the summer is not easy.  Their best success has been a very high-touch approach at in person events — but it’s very hard to scale.  They realized that there’s a larger conversation underlying their program. “Why this summer in Israel?” which echoes in the line from the Haggadah, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Building off of this connection, Interfaith Israel has developed a seder supplement that simple seeks to cultivate a conversation about how we can be on a constant journey to explore our heritage, roots and values. Their addition to the seder invites reflection at multiple levels.  What does Jerusalem represent for you?  For your family? For the World? And then progresses to ask about modern Jerusalem today, and how visiting this center of multiple religions is an important experience for all Jews, and perhaps especially those with multiple heritages in their family.  By providing a widely accessible and applicable value-added resource, Interfaith Israel is getting their brand and their upcoming teen trip into the homes of thousands.

So the lessons here for you?  First, make sure you’re insightful about what is TRULY valuable to your target audiences.  Second, develop content that rides the wave of attention, capitalizing on holidays, social trends, or other big events.  Third, to jump from online to offline, create content that real applied, practical value in offline settings.  

Stay tuned for a future post about designing for engagement that starts offline and jumps online! Have a good example?  Share it with us!

Top 5 Soft and Fuzzy Social Media Lessons

The most valuable mile marker of an organization’s social media maturity is how they integrate the tools, content and social experience into their organization’s operations and overall strategy.  Technology (of any sort) shouldn’t just be layered on top of status quo operations, and it isn't actually about the technology.  Leaders must be insightful about what they are really trying to change or accomplish, and then align the tools, skills, tactics, culture and workflow to support it.  Often it's the soft and fuzzy side of technology that's the hardest part to get right.

For example, a rigid organizational culture will not support the emergent nature of social media communications and community building.   A hierarchical staffing structure will isolate social media responsibilities with a person in the office rather than promoting stronger relationships among all.  A broadcast communications strategy will fall flat (or worse, do harm) in a conversational and collaborative landscape.

Thus, one of the greatest challenges of successfully bringing your organization into the connected age is to recognize the need to evolve organizational culture, and to take steps to do it purposefully and productively.

In this year’s Jewish Day School Social Media Academy, produced in collaboration with the AVI CHAI Foundation, 15 schools learned new skills and developed new strategies for their social media efforts.  They engaged alumni and raised funds, and some even recruited new families to their schools. But perhaps even more importantly, they learned how to more fully integrate social media into their schools’ culture and operations, from recruitment to alumni engagement, from fundraising to community building.  We can learn much from their pioneering work, experimentation and accomplishments.

So here are the top 5 integration lessons from this year’s academy:

1) Get Everyone Rowing in the Same Direction.  There’s a delicate balance between having a coordinated strategy, and cramping creative people’s style.  At The Epstein School, for example, the Academy team decided to explore Pinterest as a tool to engage parents and prospective parents.  They soon realized that different departments (for example, the library) had already started experimenting with Pinterest and established a bit of a following. They are consolidated the efforts to help each department use Pinterest effectively, while creating one brand presence and attracting families to explore all of the various boards.  They are building up toward a launch in the fall with content that will be valuable for both current and prospective parents, and shows the school’s priorities and strengths in action.

2) It’s Everyone’s Job.  Social media responsibility doesn’t live only with one staff person.  Content creation and curation is everyone’s job, and within a school community, parents and students play a role as well.  The Cohen Hillel Academy embraced this ethos throughout their school.  They used their social fundraising campaign as an opportunity to raise awareness of and engagement with their school’s newly-articulated strategic focus on Expeditionary Education, Joyful Judaism, and Community Partnerships. They looked for ways to engage students in the concepts (e.g., speaking about “Joyful Judaism” at a school assembly and asking kids to draw a picture of what it means to them) and used the campaign as a jumping-off point for richer, more thoughtful conversations with parents.  Noah Hartman, Head of School at Cohen Hillel has been tweeting throughout the year, increasing accessibility for students and parents alike, curating educational resources and insights, building community, and being playful (like a Vine video announcing a snow closure!)

The Leo Baeck Day School in Toronto inaugurated “LBTV Action News” as a vehicle for telling the school’s story, and to enrich the curriculum. 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.  Communications Director David Bale leveraged his background as a radio news reporter to teach 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.

3) It’s all about the Culture.  Society is based on cultural – norm, expectations, rituals.  You know the nuance of what’s appropriate or respectful in various places because you pick up on cues – dress, tone of voice, pecking orders, etc. Your online culture is no different.  The Epstein School was focusing on increasing engagement, and knew that to be successful, their parent community needed to feel like it was their space, not just a broadcast from the school office.  They developed a training program – starting with parent volunteers in their leadership program – to help parents learn social media skills and understand how they can participate and why it makes a difference.  Their reach, engagement, tagging, and sharing has increased tremendously as their parent community has demonstrated the culture they seek to nurture.  Similarly, The Davis Academy has engaged Host Committee Members, Parent Ambassadors, and Faculty Members to play a more active and informed role in their social spaces, and will be kicking off their work in the fall with a social media orientation.

4) Let It Go, Let It Go.  The Ida Crown Academy (grades 9-12) focused on recruitment this year. Their strategy included reaching middle school students to get them excited about attending high school there, rather than always communicating directly with the parents of prospective students.  In order to reach middle school students, they tapped their high schoolers to make the case that ICJA is a wonderful place to go to school.  Hearing directly from the students was more authentic and trustworthy, and more relevant.  They decided to hand over their Instagram account to current high school students (with supervision) who were encouraged to post photos as a real window into life as an ICJA student.  They posted about field trips, special school activities, and day-to-day life at the school. The students enjoyed it (after all, most high school students are spending more time on Instagram than Facebook these day so it’s a platform they’re comfortable with and like to use).  As a result, they’ve seen a growing number of prospective students start following their Instagram account and liking their content.

5) Integrate!  Social media isn’t a layer on top of your communications and engagement, it’s a tool that should be integrated into everything you do.  The Frisch School decided to coordinate a sports breakfast fundraiser with their social fundraising campaign. Knowing the visual power on social media, they brought the Cougar back as a symbol of our various sports teams.   They photographed 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”. The meme became popular amongst the students that the student-produced newsletter decided to create graphics and write articles about Supporting the Cougar, and the Student Video Production Club created a video with a Rocky theme (the special guest at the live Sports Breakfast was the Modern Orthodox boxer Dmitriy Salita).   The campaign created valuable energy on the ground and for the live event, as well as produced priceless content and garnered great engagement and financial support online.

These are just a few of the valuable lessons learned in the JDS Academy this year. You can explore the lessons and activities of all of the schools through their blog posts tagged #JDSacademy.  You’re also invited to drop into the ongoing conversation in our JDS Academy Facebook Group.  Got lessons to add, or examples of how you’ve put these 5 into practice?  Let us know in the comments.

Amplify Your Message

We recognized that despite a healthy number of likes on our Facebook page for a school of our size, the engagement with our page was not where we wanted it to be. We also recognized that we couldn’t make the progress we wanted with just more staff effort – especially considering there are only 3 of us who are hands-on with the school’s social media.

So, we decided to hold training sessions with targeted groups of our volunteers to recruit them as social media amplifiers. We trained volunteers in our leadership program, on our advancement committee, and our PTO leadership. We customized the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) portion of each training to help our lay leaders understand how social media can help them achieve their goals for the school.

Through the course of our trainings, we learned that most of our volunteers and colleagues have a much more limited understanding of social media than we thought. They thought that when you like a page, you automatically see everything that the page posts; after explaining the algorithm and other Facebook and Twitter basics, our Epstein community understands why their participation is key.

We received such great feedback on these trainings that we have been asked to present to the Board of Trustees at their upcoming meeting. But the best part is that there’s been a culture shift toward embracing social media here at Epstein – among administrative staff and our lay leadership.

  1. Our colleagues are partnering with us to ensure their committees will be trained for the 2014-2015 school year.
  2. Our colleagues are excited to use Facebook and comment on posts; they are confident about telling members of their committees what to do on social media channels.
  3. Our parents are tagging themselves and others in photos; they are commenting on and sharing our posts.
  4. Our parents are creating their own content and tagging the school in their posts.

Since we began our trainings:

1) Largest reach from a post was 2,043. Now, it’s doubled to 4,323.

2) We’ve created interactive posts (like the one below) with great success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Lay leaders are using their own pages to promote school events:

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Alumni are tagging us with shout-outs about great educational value:

 

 

 

 

 

5) Parents are telling our story via social media:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are really excited to see this shift in culture at our school and among our families. We can’t wait to see what next year will bring when we have the opportunity to increase the number of social media amplifiers!

 

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

Finding Our Social Media Compass

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
– Fundraising
– 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:

  1. The limited window of availability of the AVI CHAI Foundation matching funds
  2. The relative down time in our overall fundraising calendar
  3. 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

Survey Says: Celebrate Our Community

At the Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago we are always looking for ways to enhance our process, we believe we have developed a system that is worth sharing. We have included below a description of our process and a screen shot of our planning worksheet on excel.

Each week we meet to plan out posts for the coming week for our Schechter community Facebook page and our alumni Facebook page, with the following goals in mind:

Goals:

  • Building positive awareness of and connection to Solomon Schechter Day School among our various constituencies to further enrollment and development.

  • Showcasing the exceptional education and enrichment programs and activities that are offered at Solomon Schechter Day School.

  • Highlighting the achievements of students, parents, faculty and staff, and alumni in our Schechter community.

  • Publicizing events at Schechter and in our broader Jewish community.

  • Sharing relevant articles and information that relates to our mission and to our community.

  • Conducting fundraising campaigns as developed by the Director of Annual Giving.

We begin by reviewing our school memo with upcoming events and by looking at the Jewish calendar.

When we see we have an upcoming special event, we emails the teachers involved and ask them to email us with pertinent info as well as pictures during or after the event. This has alleviated our need to be everywhere. The teachers are generally willing to help and appreciate this reminder email. There are some events that we make sure we are at, however if it’s a smaller event, we simply ask the teachers to take pictures. If we receive an image while the event is occurring, we try to post it in real time.

When there is an upcoming holiday, we try to share posts with relevant material such as recipes or ideas for celebration.

We started out the year mostly posting about upcoming events and posting pictures from past events. We also experimented with other types of posts to see what posts generate the most likes and shares. We have learned that our community really likes posts that celebrate individuals’ accomplishments — whether they are students, parents, faculty or alumni.

We also experimented with sharing posts on a wider variety of Jewish-related content, however it does not seem as if these posts generate as much interest or excitement. We made the decision to only share articles of interest if we can also relate them back to something that is happening within our school.

Once we decide on the content and the date that it will be posted, we determine who on our team will actually make that post. We aim to schedule between 2-4 posts per day, except for on Shabbat and holidays, with the idea that if we miss one occasionally, we have enough to make up for it.

Here is a screen shot of a partial week of a calendar worksheet:

When looking at some of the metrics on our insight page, we can see that our reach has increased over the year. While in September, our highest reach on a post was 875 people, our highest reach on a recent post was 2696 people. In addition, our likes have increased on the whole. While we still strive to increase the number of comments and shares, we see that there has been improvement in that area since September as well. Please see chart below.

The Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago has been a participant in 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