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!

Words vs. Word of Mouth: The Difference Between Owned, Earned and Paid Media

“We need to be reaching more people.” The constant refrain we hear from organizations that believe they have something valuable that the world should be paying more attention to. It’s true. But we’re living in an attention economy, where everyone is so flooded with messages, content and noise that all we want to do is filter it out.

Yes, we need to be reaching more people. But to do that, we need strategies to break through the clutter and penetrate people’s eyes, ears, hearts and minds.

It’s important to understand three different approaches to get seen and heard, and then to determine what mix is going to help you achieve your goals. The trifecta: owned, earned, and paid media.

Owned Media: Your House, Your Rules

Owned media includes the channels you have created, and the content that you own. This might be content on your website and your blog. It also includes your Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter accounts and other social media channels. A great approach to owned media requires creating strong content and having a strong social strategy to back is up and leverage the time you put into creating that content. If you’re looking to mature your owned content strategy, read up on the practices of “content marketing” and “multi-channel strategies."

Paid Media: Spending Smart

Paid media is, simply, media exposure you pay for. Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, SEO campaigns and other opportunities to pay to get your content showing up in more places. Smart paid media is surgical in its focus – you don’t want to be paying for Google to serve up your ad to the wrong populations – and the content itself needs to have compelling calls to action to even get audiences to engage.

While “digital marketing” and “paid media” used to be synonymous, they are no longer. Paid media may still have its place, but in today’s attention economy, people are much more likely to listen to the recommendations of their friends and to allocate their attention to brands they trust and already have a relationship with in some way.

Earned Media: Network Amplification

Between owned, earned and paid, I would argue that earned media is the most valuable of all. Earned media is when other people, channels and sometimes even brands are talking about you and/or sharing your work and messages. Hopefully these mentions are good. But a bad Yelp review, for example, is also “earned media”. Earned media often is a mention or review of your work, but it can also look like an interview on someone’s blog or a guest blog post where you’re work appears on someone else’s blog.

Earned media is related to other forms of media. When someone shares or amplifies your content on Facebook or posts a link to your blog on Twitter it’s because you did a good job with your owned media. You may use paid media to increase exposure which then helps people pick up on it and share it, tipping into the earned media category.

The benefit of earned media is that it piggybacks your brand on the brand equity of the person or brand that’s sharing it. The hard part of earned media is that you have to earn it. You have less control than owned media (where you create and manage it) or paid media (where you decide what’s worth paying for an how much). What you give up in control however, you gain in other ways, as earned media has greater trustworthiness and authenticity, and can extend to entirely new audiences you otherwise would never be able to reach.

How to Increase Earned Media Coverage of Your Organization 

Any smart content strategy includes owned, paid and earned media. I find, however, that many organizations neglect to pay enough attention to earned media, or to really work for it. Some earned media happens by good old fashion luck, but there’s much you can do to cultivate opportunities.

Here are 6 things you can do to increase earned media coverage of your organization:
 

  1. Identify the brands, people and influencers whose channels would be valuable to you. It might be about scale, relevance, audience, or adding the character of their brand to yours.
     
  2. Build relationships with them. Follow them on Twitter, share their content, comment in their channels to add value for them and their audiences.
     
  3. Listen and learn what’s authentic to their audience. Notice where they are offering earned media to others (mentions of other projects, guest blog posts, what they retweet and share). You need to fit into their culture and brand identity – having insight will help you thread that needle.
     
  4. Create content worth sharing. It should be valuable, and add to the social capital of those whom you want to share it. It can be really useful or really funny. Top 10 lists, infographics and well produced videos travel well too. Don’t forget to include share buttons on your owned media to make it easy for people to share it!
     
  5. Use content creation as an engagement strategy. When you’ve told a story or thanked someone in your content, a natural next step is to let them know through social media, which will likely encourage them to share it.
     
  6. Use your relationships with others to find guest blogging opportunities (and offer them in return as well). Make sure to position yourself as adding value to their community, not only trying to self promote. Do a good job and you’ll likely be invited back.

How else have you earned your earned media? What people, channels or brands have given you an important boost?

 

This post is cross posted on the See3 Communications blog.

 

Freedom From the Status Quo

Of the many inspiring Passover messages that I read this year, the one that most caught my eye was by Rabbi Jill Jacobs,"Where Slavery Ends and Freedom Starts.", March 30, 2015. Rabbi Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, shares "it's not always so clear where slavery ends and freedom starts. Did the Israelites become Pharaoh’s slaves only after he set taskmasters over them? Or did we lose our freedom when we became dependent on Egypt’s largesse? Did we become free when we crossed the sea, or only when we established a homeland of our own? … The line between slavery and freedom is not always clearly marked by a parting sea."  Rabbi Jacobs applies this to the context of oppressed workers in the modern economy, people who are bound not by shackles and chains but by poverty, fear, emotional abuse, or lack of education.

Freedom is not only about our physical reality, but also our mindset.  Even while the Israelites were physically free, they reminisced that “in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat, when we ate bread to our fill!” (Exodus 16:3).  It’s hard to let go of what we know, what’s our “normal” even if it’s not ideal, or even serving our interests.

People (and collectively, organizations) who think they are “free” can also be “enslaved” by old ideas and ingrained patterns of behavior. Whenever we keep doing things in a certain way because that is the only way we’ve know to do them, we run the risk of self-enslavement. This is especially true when the old ways aren't working anymore, and the need for change is increasingly clear. Let’s look at this in three areas of American Jewish congregational life.

Financial Models
For a hundred years or so, most American synagogues have been organized with a dues-based membership model. This model has been nearly universally adopted, and the norm for multiple generations — such that, just like in Egypt, it’s hard to imagine any other way.  But today there is abundant evidence that this model isn't working as well or reliably as it used to for many congregations. There are, however variations, changes, and new and different models that some are successfully utilizing. While different synagogues may need different approaches designing how their communities support them, across the field we are starting to feel the questioning and active pushback that are hallmarks of a new kind of freedom to explore different kinds of synagogue funding models.

Engagement
Most American synagogues have also shared the idea that if we build the biggest building, create the best programs, boast the most creative religious school, and hire the right rabbi, then the Jews will come running to become members. But for Americans today (and especially for younger generations), the whole notion of membership (to any organization) doesn't seem quite so certain or resonant.  Those of us who do care about our synagogues, who do find meaning, purpose, and connection in this kind of social and religious organization have to find new ways to make other people see that value and spark, and to care too. That means seeking out, creating, and experimenting with variations, changes, and new and different models of engagement.  Too often our mindset is that “engagement” equals “membership” and “attendance”, but engagement is as much about a mindset and relationships as it is about attendance. Here too, let’s free ourselves of assumptions about our engagement models, and explore a new normal.

Leadership
Most American synagogues rely on boards and committees, volunteers, lay leaders, and professional staff who spend hours and hours in meetings and parking lots making important and not-so important decisions, and then making them again on phone calls and in more meetings. We struggle to find new leaders and new volunteers in part because our current leaders are feeling over-burdened, and in part because the structures of our leadership (multi-hour meetings on weeknights that conflict with kids’ activities, sports games, and other interests) are out of synch with the ways prospective leaders organize their time and attention.  What if, just what if, we ask ourselves to consider variations, changes and new and different models of leadership?  Remember when Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law, pushes him to think differently?  “'The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone" (Exodus 18:17). Let’s free ourselves of these structures, and instead look afresh at what makes the most sense for our needs today.

As we count the omer and move from a celebration of the exodus to the receiving of the Torah, may be take the opportunity to recognize, with 20/20 vision, the places where we may be limiting ourselves, even “enslaving” ourselves to old ideas and previous models that are no longer in our best interests.  As the Israelites wandered the desert, there were many questions, few clear answers, and plenty of “figuring it out as they went”.  So too are congregations today in a time of pioneering a new era.  Let us embrace the questions, explore possibilities, and be free to pioneer the future.

This blog post is cross posted on the Connected Congregations website.  Learn more about Connected Congregations here.

Debbie Joseph is president and founder of Debbie Joseph Consulting, Inc. She is a nationally recognized expert in working with synagogues on exploring alternative dues and membership models, strategic planning and leadership development.  She is a contributor to UJA-Federation of New York’s Are Voluntary Dues Right for Your Synagogue?” report and a contributor to “New Membership and Financial Alternatives for the American Synagogue” by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky and Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky.

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

Experimenting with Facebooks Boosted Posts

This blog post is part of our series from schools participating in the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy.

Our participation in the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy inspired our Marketing Department at Golda Och Academy to tweak our social media strategy and one of the most exciting trials was our experimentation with boosted posts on Facebook. Prior to this experiment, our Golda Och Academy Facebook page was popular among current parents, students, faculty, and alumni, however, we wanted the opportunity to bring new eyes not only to our Facebook page, but to our website and brand through social media. With the recent nosedive of a Facebook post’s organic (unpaid) reach—particularly coming from a company page— it seemed like the perfect moment to try boosting our posts.

We boosted posts that included student enrollment-related videos about our Kindergarten program, a partnership with a community business, and one about a current student who transferred to our school. On average, a typical Facebook post on the GOA page would organically reach between 300-1,500 people and earn between 5-50 likes prior to boosting. We did find that depending on the amount paid (usually around $25 per post) and the audience chosen, our boosted posts would reach between 5,000-20,000 people. Although we did not necessarily find a correlation between a boosted post and an increase in post likes, we did find that a boosted post would bring in new page likes, which helped us achieve our goal of bringing new e. Our foray into Facebook advertising is absolutely a work in progress, but along the way, we have learned a few things that we would like to share:

3 tips to maximize a boosted post:

  1. Expand your existing network. Although you are more likely to reach a larger audience by selecting nearby towns and the ages befitting to your demographic, the more valuable demographic (for example, for a niche as specific as those interested in a Jewish Day School) would be the “People who like your page and their friends” option. The people who already like your page are more likely to have friends with mutual interests than the general public and are more likely to engage with your posts.
  2. Less words, more photos. Think about the posts that catch your eye while scrolling through your personal Facebook feed. It’s usually not the lengthy post, but probably a single eye-catching photo or cute video. In fact, Facebook will reject your boost if it’s too wordy – make use of Facebook’s helpful grid tool to achieve the perfect photo/text balance.
  3. Promote your services. While boosting a post about a particular student’s accomplishment is nice, it isn’t necessarily providing a service to the community and to potential fans of your page. If your school hosts open houses, an after-school program, a summer camp, or any other special services, this is the information most relevant to potential fans. 

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

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