Our goal upon entering the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy was to utilize social networks as a means to tell our story. So many wonderful things happen at the school every day, and we felt with Facebook, in particular, that we had a great opportunity to re-energize our current parents and to reach new audiences in a visually compelling and easy-to-share (or “like”) format.
We took a very strategic approach to launching our Facebook page, from the type of content we wanted to post, how we would promote the page, and who we would target. We found our social media strategy to be an outgrowth of our website strategy. When we launched our new website nearly three years ago, we took very deliberate steps to tell the story of the school through photos on the internal (password-protected) pages of our website. So whereas many schools struggle to produce quality content on a regular basis, we had already laid the groundwork that would become essential to our success. Our experience with the JDS Social Media Academy pushed us to refine this process of collaborating with our community members to drive the content that tells the story of the school.
Our content curation strategy began with us trying to figure out where the story was, and realizing we would need input from faculty members, administrators and parents. We have to rely on these key players to let us know the compelling events and stories happening day by day.
We felt the best way to truly paint the picture of life at CESJDS was through cultivating these relationships. I reached out to faculty members individually, urging them to let me know when they had special projects taking place in their classrooms. And every time a teacher contacted me, I went to take photos which would later be posted to the Facebook page and school website. It didn’t take long for them to get excited about being featured; it validates their hard work in the classroom and gives our community a window into life at the school. It soon became second nature for them to email with interesting classroom news or projects.
A great example of how parents contribute to our strategy is Families in Action Day, a day of service where 800 people volunteer at more than 20 projects in the area. I coordinate directly with the parent volunteers to generate photos from the various locations, something I could not do alone. We use this approach for many of our larger events–Dor L’Dor, Color War, Arts Chai-Lights—and find it works well because people are excited to be a part of the story. I also work with our student photographers (from the student newspaper and photography class) to feature their work online.
Many other individuals in the school have news to share, and we have worked to make sure this news gets passed to us to post to Facebook and the school website. The athletic director, guidance and college counselors, development director, and other members of the administrative team routinely share news, accomplishments and other updates. All of this helps to tell the story of CESJDS.
By changing the dynamic of the school, we established a network of collaboration where others create content and invite me to the story, rather than me searching it out. This process has been vital to accurately portraying life at CESJDS through our Facebook page and school website.
Kimberly Dudash is the Marketing Associate at the Charles E. Smith Jewish 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 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.