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

Lessons from a Social Fundraiser

After completing our first-ever social fundraiser on Crowdrise this spring, there is no doubt it was the best learning experience of the Social Media Academy. We met our goal, reached new donors and developed new fundraising ideas for the future–all while having a lot of fun doing it.

Of course, we learned along the way and have a few lessons to share.

The Social Fundraising Age Gap: While it’s true that all ages are on social media these days, it’s not necessarily that everyone is engaging on social media—commenting and taking the call to action that we seek in our posts. Contrast these two cases:

  1. One donor who learned about our social fundraiser actually contacted The AVI CHAI Foundation (which was providing matching funds through the JDS Social Media Academy) after seeing no mention of their matching grant to us on their website. Really? Because it was certainly on the school website!  That person had never heard of Crowdrise and was entirely skeptical. And although she was kind enough to donate, she did it by mailing in a check. It’s possible that she never uses her credit card online.
  2. Now, consider our seniors (students), who we engaged for Campus Fundraising. They wanted no information about our campaign after finding out that money went to our school. A fundraising team captain would say something like this: “You know Crowdrise? Well, go there and find the ‘AlmostAlumni’ link. Give me some money, and our team will win.” And then that student would whip out his phone and credit card and do exactly that. Engaging our seniors and planting the seed for future donations was the best part of our campaign.

Don’t Base Results on the First Few Days: We raised over $6000 in one week. It took three more to raise another $2500. Enough said.

Competition Was More Effective Than Prizes: The most aggressive fundraising happened when fundraising champions were motivated by winning. It didn’t really matter if they won a prize or not, they were excited by the challenge of beating their friends (or losing!) in public. Our best results came from alumni who knew each other and were motivated to stay ahead. One would get a donation and another would ask for that amount, plus $1 just to keep the lead. As for prizes, we didn’t see higher results from our champions or our donors based on incentives like Amazon gift cards, iTunes and even Passover shopping gift cards.

Wendy Margolin is the Director of Communications at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, IL.  The school was on of 15 schools chosen to participate in the 2013-14 Jewish Day School Social Media 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 this spring with the tag #jdsacademy

Also, check out the Jewish Day School Social Media and Video Academy website, which includes a free self-assessment to help your school focus on key areas of growth in your social media work.

A Place for Us to Listen

JCDS started off the 2013-2014 academic year with what I would have considered a strong social media presence. While the school has been active on many social media channels for some time (Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn), most of my focus had been on Facebook, as it is a quick and easy way to share photos, videos, and important updates with our parents, grandparents, donors, and alumni.

Looking back, I wasn't thinking about social media in the right way. While I posted nearly every day, the most engagement I got was a couple of likes here and there. I was posting, not connecting.

Through experimentation over the last six months, I've learned that my role, as the voice of the school on Facebook, is not to be a news source, but to create an environment that starts conversation. Once I was able to get the conversation started, Facebook became a tool unlike any other. It became a place for me to listen to what our audience values, which in the end, is the most important thing of all.

By analyzing the engagement levels and analytics of our recent posts, here are the top 5 Facebook strategies that have been successful for JCDS:

1. Tag those who are involved, and those who you want to be involved.

When you tag someone in a post or photo, it will show up on their Facebook page. Not only will it directly call attention to the person you want to be involved, but your post will also be visible to their network, and therefore, reach many more people who you otherwise would not have access to! I’ve had success asking people to tag themselves and their friends. The benefit of this is twofold: they are actively engaging with the post, and they may tag people who we are not yet connected with.

2. Ask questions.

Asking specific, pointed questions is a great way to get the conversation rolling. Sure, I’ve had a few flops, but those helped me learn what our audience likes to talk about. I've seen success in action in many of my #ThrowbackThursday posts, where I've asked (via tagging) people in the photo specific questions about what's going on in the picture. One comment leads to the next, and pretty soon anyone who sees the photo gets a deeper understanding of what was happening when the photo was taken, and hopefully feels more connected to story I am trying to tell.

3. Be genuine.

In January, JCDS students were surprised with a visit from the 2013 World Series Trophy. First, I posted that we had big news with a photo of one of our staff members dressed as a Red Sox player. The next day, I posted a photo of excited kids (and tagged their parents) and shared that the trophy would be coming. Then — the most successful post of all — was a video of a 4th grade teacher telling the kids that the trophy was coming. Seeing their pure and genuine reaction definitely resonated with our social media audience: 38 likes, 19 comments, and the jackpot, 12 shares. The video was even written about in the local newspaper, the Watertown Patch. This kind of engagement was unprecedented for us.

4. Repeat successful themes.

Between the regular daily posts, I've committed to a few repeating themes. One universal theme, #ThrowbackThursday, has been a great way for us to connect with our alumni and alumni parents. I’ve gotten a tremendously positive response from our throwback photos. Because this is a weekly theme, the audience knows to expect it. And because there are usually a lot of comments, people are not shy to participate.

I also created a new theme, called #JCDSCharacter. I felt it was important to celebrate our students through short stories that capture the spirit of our school. Parents love to see that they are sending their kids to a school that helps them grow into mensches. It's also a great tool for prospective families. Every time a #JCDSCharacter post is shared, a whole new audience is exposed to the great things that happen in our school.

5. Engage with other organizations.

Celebrating successes of other schools and organizations is a beautiful thing! Just as much as we want people to engage with our school Facebook page, it's important to interact with others. While I am on Facebook, I make sure to take the time to look at what other organizations are posting. If they post something that relates to our school or community, I share it on our page. Fostering good-will between organizations is priceless, and the favor is almost always returned.

 

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 15schools 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

Also, check out the Jewish Day School Social Media and Video Academy website, which includes a free self-assessment to help your school focus on key areas of growth in your social media work.

Four Lessons for Maturing Your Social Media Practice: Evidence from the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy

Over the past nine months, 20 day schools from around the country have been immersed in an intensive Academy to catapult their social media work – and strategic goals of their schools – forward.  The Academy combines training, coaching, project-based learning and peer networks to help schools develop a social media strategy, put it into action, and measure their results.

The three projects throughout the year – a social media experiment, social fundraising project (with matching funds from The AVI CHAI Foundation) and the drafting of a social media policy are intended to help schools work in purposeful and reflective ways, and then to see real results, beyond just likes and follows.

The following 4 lessons emerged from the participating schools as important themes in advancing their work, and we offer them in the hopes they help you as well.  Links go to blog posts by each school with further detail about their Academy experience.

1.  Content Content Content.  Knowing your goals, and the interest of your target audiences is critical for developing a content strategy.  Schools that previously talked all about themselves experimented with different types of content to see what resonated, with home, and how.

Shulamith School for Girls and  The Westchester Day School focused on re-engaging alumni.  Posting photos of classes from the 1970’s got many people reminiscing. People tagged their friends which brought more alumni to the page.  Some photos had dozens of comments and several shares, leveraging networks and re-energizing and reconnecting the alumni community.

Solomon Schechter School of Queens realized that people organized, intentional and reflective was the key to their success.  By creating a content calendar they were able to plan thoughtful and relevant content, and then measure the cause and effect of various approaches.  This practice built momentum on their Facebook Page which they were able to leverage throughout the Academy.

Some schools found great value in decentralizing content creation.  Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy now has several faculty members tweeting, sharing student adventures inside the school walls and around the world.  Carmel Academy realized their teachers were a great source of content, and the faculty was eager to provide stories and photograph events.

2.  It’s About People, Not Technology.  While the myriad of tools and their (seemingly rapidly evolving) functionality can seem dizzying at first, schools learned that social media is really human. It’s about connections, relationships, emotions and listening more than talking.

At the Robert M Beren Hebrew Academy, they learned this lesson through their social fundraising project.  They recognized the social part of social fundraising, and instead of just using a “social” platform to take online donations, they set up a system of ambassadors to help amplify their campaign, and reinforce that it’s about supporting the community, not just an institution.  “Our school transformed into a community of PR ambassadors and fundraisers within a matter of hours,” they reported.

Many schools learned through trial and error that people love content that they identify with, not only information that they find interesting.  When they identify with it, they comment, and even better, share with their own networks.  At the Lander Grinspoon Academy, they found that “people want to share posts that say something about themselves: their children are highlighted; their values are reflected; they have a reason to be proud of the school and community.”

3.  Demonstrate, Don’t Pontificate. Often our instincts are to market market market our schools. But demonstrating the real and authentic manifestation of the things you do well speaks volumes more.

At the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, they featured current students and alumni in their social fundraising campaign. The stories conveyed the mission, vision, culture and impact of their school and emotionally touched the viewers.  Their ‘fan fundraisers’ had powerful human interest stories to tell to their own networks, which brought in many new donors from outside their usual community of donors.

At the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School, prospective families (even those who had decided not to enroll, but were still fans of the Facebook Page) felt the benefits of the school.  Several schools reported an increase in total applications this year (without intentionally shifting any other recruitment efforts) and a few new families who enrolled specifically because of what they were seeing on Facebook.

4.  Build a Culture. Not a Billboard.   Online spaces are like any other. They have a culture, values, and social norms.  As the host of your spaces, it’s your responsibility to help set the tone.  Sometimes doing so can catalyze more conversation once people have some cues about tone, length, humor, etc.

The Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School realized that many of their parents weren’t on Facebook, for a variety of reasons.  One of their challenges was to show parents that Facebook can have real value for their lives, and is in fact “kosher”.  They recruited ambassadors and offered articles and training for parents who were just learning, all of which not only helped their social media efforts, but was an educational and relationship building experience in and of itself.

At the Lander Grinspoon Academy they set a goal of increasing the likes on their page and making it more participatory, communal space. At a major Hanukkah, instead of the typical announcement asking everyone to silence their cell phones, they began the assembly by asking everyone to get their cell phones out and like them on Facebook, and invited them to take and share photos of the evening.  It increased their likes by 40% in one day, and they soon had many comments on and shares of their content.

The 20 participating schools have progressed in leaps and bounds this year, and they have worked hard for it.  They attended webinars, pursued projects, met with their coaches, shared their progress and learning, and integrated their work into their school culture and operations.

You can do it too.  The next cohort of the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is now in formation.  Applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis now through the end of July.  Learn more at http://darimonline.org/jdsacademy201314.

 

80-20: Work on Whatever You Want

Netbooks, Document Cameras, Google Apps, Educational Apps, Student blogs, we floated all of these ideas around as we tried to come up with where to focus our technology training this summer. There are so many opportunities it is often overwhelming. With training being a fundamental component of our technology plan at the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School, we struggled to determine a school wide technology goal for the coming year. As we spoke and brainstormed, inspiration from the NAJDSC, and our recent participation in the Darim Online Jewish Day School Social Media Academy came together, and an idea formed based.

One of the famous benefits of working at Google is the 20 percent time program. Google allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. At Hewlett-Packard, 3M, and Google, "many" of their best and most popular products come from the thin sliver of time they granted employees to work on whatever they wanted to.

We decided that instead of us choosing a school wide goal we would allow each teacher to choose a technology based project that they’d like to implement in their classroom. We’d take the money we would have spent training and pay our teachers to spend the time to research, create and implement a project that they were passionate and excited about. We have a treasure of knowledge, experience and skill amongst our staff and with so many learning opportunities readily available on the internet we know we will have a rich, informative and exciting journey. The program has no outcome benchmarks but process requirements. The focus is on the experience. Because we are offering the freedom to “work on whatever you want” we are also offering the freedom to fail, without failure there can be no innovation or true experimentation. Regardless of whether the project plays out as we hope it to we know there will be valuable lessons learned from the process.

In addition to choosing and implementing a project there will be a reflective and reporting process where teachers will reflect, share and teach each other about their project and what they have learned. Not only will teachers benefit from their projects and experience they will learn from everyone else’s research and projects. And at the end of the project we will have a staff where each teacher is well versed and experienced in different areas of technology and available to support each other in their area of expertise.

Miriam Esther Wilhelm is the founding Head of School at the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School. She has enjoyed the journey of taking the school from a start up to a growing and thriving 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.
 

 

 

 

See3C: Scheck Hillel Reinvents, Stays Connected

 

As a school who strives to be on top of the latest and greatest forms of social media, this year was the time for Scheck Hillel Community School to explore one of the most popular outlets used today: Instagram. With one click on the app, you can quickly see what is going on around campus and in classrooms. In the past, Scheck Hillel has used Facebook and Twitter to reach out to the community and share what is going on at school. Now we have taken the jump not only with a school account (@eHillel) but also individual classroom accounts to reinvent photo sharing, making it easy for families and students to stay connected. Instagram also links to other forms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. This allows our followers to branch out and explore eHillel across the social media world.

instagram.jpgIn the classroom, Instagram has taken a different turn. Students as early as third grade are excited and eager to explore the social media world with their iPods, iPads, and iPhones. What better way to do it than linked to school! With followers in many grade levels, we are sharing our classroom with the rest of campus. Parents are slowly but surely starting to follow and engage in Instagram by liking and commenting on photos. Siblings and former students are among our greatest followers, and are encouraging their teachers to jump on the bandwagon.

photoclose.jpgAs a third grade teacher, I was unsure of how Instagram would impact my class. Would parents be interested? Would students want to follow their class?  My worries were quickly erased as I have only seen a positive response! Students are excited to be involved in writing captions, adding filters, and creating appropriate hashtags to share our photos. Another third grade teacher was persuaded to create a page when her students started to follow my class page @see3c. She found that her students were eager to get involved as well. Teacher Jennifer Cohn, @3bpics, says “Students are commenting on photos after school. It gives them a chance to go back and reflect on what was happening in school that day.” Scheck Hillel’s third grade was recently empowered with a couple iPads for each class, so the students can get involved with our Instagram page more easily. It has become a class activity and the students are deciding what is important to share with our friends in the community. We look forward to sharing our achievements as we engage more teachers and classes to connect to social media!
 

Jenna Kraft is a Grade 3 teacher at Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach, Florida. Taking a lead beyond the classroom, she recently co-authored Scheck Hillel’s Social Media Guidelines & Policy with the School’s Advancement department.

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.

 

Using Collaboration to Create Content

 

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.
 

 

Clarity

 

I recently drove my son to his doctor appointment. I hadn’t been to this doctor’s office in nearly a year and didn’t have directions, but I had a pretty good idea of how to get there. As I approached the general vicinity of the doctor’s office I realized I wasn’t as familiar with the area as I thought and the landmarks I was counting on just weren’t showing up!

After navigating a few semi-familiar twists and turns I did manage to get him there – although we were a bit late. Once there, I quietly vowed that I would always get directions before I embarked on another “leap of faith” trip (G-d help me if my wife reads this!)

So, what does my son’s doctor’s appointment have to do with the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy? Well, as I “hoped” my way to the appointment I also realized the quiet anxiety I encountered was the same feeling I had setting up and managing our school’s social media pages. I kind of knew where I was going; I figured I would see familiar places and instinctively know where to turn and when. That is no way to drive to an appointment and definitely no way to oversee a social media campaign.

Through our coaching calls and exercises in between, I’ve learned to map out a specific direction of where we want to go and how we plan to get there. I feel so much better now than I did embarking on this journey. The ambiguity I subtly felt has faded. It has been replaced with clarity and with that – a sense of relief.

Now that I am clear on our direction and how to achieve our set goals, I feel as though I finally have the flashlight I needed to help us find our way through the dark! OK, enough with the metaphors. The bottom line is that I really feel as though a weight that I was barely aware of has been lifted. OK, now enough of the metaphors.

Our social media experiment, along with that of our social media fundraising project, is well underway and our goals are clear. I am able to articulate these goals and the objectives along the way to our Board Members and to our staff. We have seen our membership grow, our “likes” increase substantially and, most importantly, we are effectively fundraising in a new and unique manner that I believe will become more and more familiar and commonplace as time passes.

Looking back over the whole process it reminds me of the simplicity of writing down a “to-do” list and then crossing off each item as I accomplish them. Oops, one last metaphor slipped in.

Harry Katcher is the new Director of Communications and Marketing at San Diego Jewish Academy. He replaces the outgoing Director of Marketing and Communications (note the subtle difference?). Harry has a BA in Journalism, a M.Ed. in Education, and a GPS for directions.

 

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.

 

 

Social Media Brings Alumni into the Conversation at Brandeis Hillel Day School

As a two-campus school serving 600 students and their families in the San Francisco Bay Area, we keep our community engaged and informed through a robust website, two packed weekly e-newsletters, class-specific updates and other publications. Yet, as our 50th anniversary approached last year, we wanted to quickly and effectively invite alumni and alumni families – along with the rest of our community – into the celebration (and conversation).

At the time, our Facebook page was in its infancy, with a few “likes” and content mirroring our website. Our separate alumni Facebook page had waxed and waned – and seemed disconnected from our daily life as an institution. Then came the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy– and everything changed.

Within the first few months, we developed a plan to invite alumni back into our daily conversation – as part of our extended BHDS family. We decided to focus our social media efforts on just one Facebook page, where our entire community could celebrate our 50th anniversary – as well as our daily life. We thought more creatively about making putting the “social” back in our social media by inviting more two-way conversations – and by experimenting with content and types of media. 

Some posts worked well – some did not. We learned as much from our failures as we did from our successes. Most importantly, we “discovered” much of what we knew all along – that our alumni have treasured memories from their years at BHDS, and that they they like photos and video from school days. We also noticed that they like to see news from the present…and that they care about helping the school build its future.

Encouraged by our coach, we decided to take a big chance on online fundraising. Thanks to the generosity of the AVI CHAI Foundation and all our learning through the JDS academy, we designed a fundraising drive to challenge our alumni to a 2:1 match to a donation of $18 or more to the school through Razoo, a social media fundraising site. The results were thrilling. Thanks to the enthusiastic response from our alumni and their families, we raised an unprecedented amount for BHDS in two weeks. More importantly, we brought our alumni and their families into our conversation and celebration in a way we never had before.

We learned a great deal from the chances we took this year – how to set up a social media-based fundraising drive, how to think through posting challenges and how to connect with our alumni in a more authentic way. Most importantly, we ended up with perhaps more even more valuable takeaways from our failures – knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does.

Our social media foundation is strong. Our Facebook page has become a critical tool in our daily interaction as a community, more than tripling in users and updated with frequent, fresh posts several times per week. We recently launched our YouTube page, and we’re experimenting with best practices there as well. We’re considering additional social media tools, and look forward to build on the progress we’ve made. Along the way, we plan to take chances, experiment, and continue to learning as we move forward.

Join our conversation! Visit us on Facebook or contact Sonia Daccarett, Director of Communications at Brandeis Hillel Day School at sdaccarett@bhds.org.
 

Joan Fishbein Feldman is the Director of Communications of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore, Maryland. Beth Tfiloh Dahan is the area’s largest coed Jewish day school, with students from PreSchool through Grade 12.

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.