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

Teachers Teaching Parents to Parent: A Lesson in Content Curation

Adding value in your social media channels is the number one way to compete in an attention economy.  Knowing what value to add means being empathetic – understanding deeply where the pain points are for your audience, so you know how to help in mission-centric ways.

For many parents today, questions around appropriate use of technology and screens (large and small) are a daily preoccupation.  From handing an iPhone into the back seat to keep a toddler occupied while in traffic, to helping teens navigate appropriate use of their own devices and freedom on the internet.

The bottom line is: Parents today are doing this for the first time.  We’re pioneering.  This technology did not exist when we were kids, so we have no models of how to parent around it. While there are no simple right or wrong answers, parents can learn a lot from a) experts in the developmental ages of their children, and b) what Jewish values and wisdom can offer to help guide our decision making.

That means Jewish schools and synagogues have a huge opportunity to curate content from expert sources and contextualize wisdom for parents.  This kind of content can be curated throughout the year, but especially in the summer when there’s less “boots on the ground” storytelling, such curated content can become even more important to keep momentum on your channels.  We asked some wise Jewish educators (including those in JEDLAB and Darim Educators Facebook Groups) for their best sources.  Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

We love the folks over at The TEC Center and The Fred Rogers Center's new Ellie initiative. Both are about supporting educators in making informed developmentally appropriate choices for their schools and students. (Shariee Calderone)

Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools for Early Childhood Education. (Iris Koller)

Raising Digital Natives is a fantastic website run by Devorah Heitner who brings lessons and insights about creating a positive media ecology in one’s family. I particularly like this recent post about teaching  your children responsible media behavior by modeling it as you take (and share) photos of them. / (Lisa Colton)

Danah Boyd's book, It's Complicated – The Social Lives of Networked Teens.  Really a great counterpoint to a lot of the fear-mongering that's out there, and fabulous reporting. You can download as a PDF too! (Sophie Rapoport)

NAEYC has good resournces on technology and young children (Iris Koller)

Award winning app, Circle of 6, recognized by the White House Apps Against Abuse Challenge.

I like the new book "iRules" very much a parent's perspective–not research based. I also like selections from "The Parent App" and "Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out." (Devorah Heitner)

Anything from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center is great just for context (Russel Neiss)

Following American Academy of Pediatricians Guidelines on children and media is a must. (Russel Neiss)

Common Sense Media has great reviews of content, movies, sites with a breakdown on various attributes (violence, language, etc.) which I find very helpful as a parent, and is always available for quick reference on my phone when I need to answer if my kids can see XYZ movie, etc. (Lisa Colton)

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel is great for Parent discussions! (Susan Rosman)

 

Any other suggestions or resources you'd add to this list?  Add them in the comments!

Social Media Super Powers

It’s Monday morning and the children are eager to come to school.  On a normal day, they are greeted with a “Hello” or “Good morning.  How was your weekend?”  But today Ben walks through our doors and I say, “Hello Ben.  How was your day out with Thomas the train?”  And right then, something amazing happens. 

Ben looks at me like I am almost magical.  How did I know that he saw Thomas over the weekend?  Is she psychic?  Clearly she must be magical!  Little did he know about my secret super power known as Facebook.  Instead of simply saying hello back to me, Ben went into an excited story about his weekend adventures.  This is what I call the Facebook connection; a special moment that would not have happened so easily and naturally without the super powers of social media.

So how did we gain these super powers?  It certainly did not happen overnight and we weren’t bitten by a spider.  It was a complex formula of trainings from the Jewish Community Center Association and Darim Online, mixed with dedication, teamwork and trial and error.  We began by posting more and simply having a more visible presence on Facebook.  Then, with the encouragement of Darim Online, we included more people to be admins and curators on our page and asked parents and staff to be intentional commenters.  Along this journey we started to find out what worked well for our program and what posts were reaching farther outside our norm.  Those that were successful we would duplicate when we could.  For example, our Monday Morning Mystery.  

Each Monday we would post three clues about a teacher and encourage our fans to guess who it was and the winner would receive a free challah on Friday when we revealed the teacher.  We had so much fun with this that it actually evolved into baby pictures of staff rather than clues.  Through this our families were learning more about our teachers and seeing into their lives a little more.  And we were beginning to learn more about our families’ lives outside of the JCC through their posts, too.  The Facebook connection was happening.   Teachers and parents began to playfully banter through our posts.  Parents began to see a more social, but still professional side of our staff.  Relationships began to grow and our overall sense of community became stronger.  Throughout the year we have heard our parents and fellow JCC staff tell us things like, “I love what you are doing on Facebook,” and “I check your page every morning to see what fun things you have posted.”  For that alone we will continue to grow our community and keep our posts alive and fun.  We have hopes of infusing more educational pieces for our fans and continuing to create an environment of discussion through our page.  Until then, we will keep letting the children think we magically know what they do when they are not at school!              

 

 

Shannon Hall is the Assistant Director of the Infant and Toddler program at the Pitt CDC.  Shannon, along with Fredelle Schneider, Director, Robin Herman, Assistant Director of Preschool and several of the Pitt CDC teaching staff has participated in the Detroit Jewish Early Childhood Social Media Academy this year, coordinated by the Alliance for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and generously funded by the Hermelin-Davidson Center for Congregation Excellence.

 

 

 

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.

Be Seen! Intro to Facebook Boosted Posts

Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla of social media – ignore it at your own risk. For most of us, at least SOME of our audience/community is active on Facebook, so it's important to be there, reach the right people, and be seen consistently. But recent changes to the way Facebook functions are making it harder for your fans to see your posts and engage with them. Putting a small budget towards Facebook advertising can help keep your engagement up. With that in mind, here's a short introduction to a quick, easy way to make sure your posts get seen by more of your people. Additional resources are posted below. Check it out, and let us know if you give it a try!

And some additional resources:

More on Facebook's Edgerank algorithm

Facebook's FAQ on Boosting Posts

An overview on how to select different target audiences for your boosted post, from Tabsite

My favorite book on social media marketing, with a heavy focus on Facebook: "Likeable Social Media" by Dave Kerpen

20 Fun Ideas for Great Twitter Content

This Tuesday, the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy cohort participated in a Twitter tutorial, digging into the tool and exploring ways of maturing your practice on Twitter. Among other things, we talked about ways schools can develop new content to share on this fast-paced, link-driven network. Here are our top twenty. What are your suggestions?

20 fun ideas for Twitter content:

  1. Post your school's sports scores, plays and results.
  2. Tweet photos and bios of your new teachers.
  3. Post your daily lunch or snack menu if you have one.
  4. Tweet school cancelations or delays due to weather.
  5. Tweet articles from local newspapers that discuss your school or issues you care about.
  6. Share a classroom highlight or insight with a photo or Vine video. 
  7. Tweet a unique school picture of the day for a caption contest.
  8. Take photos of rehearsals for a school play or concert and/or post a short Vine video to encourage people to attend.
  9. Tweet quotes from school meetings that are informational or memorable.
  10. Tweet job openings at your school.
  11. Tweet upcoming admission, alumni, and other events as reminders.
  12. Gather "Questions of the Day" from teachers to post (for students as an assignment, or just to model curiosity and learning for your community!). 
  13. Develop a personal learning network by following colleagues and experts in your area (education, Jewish education, specific ages or subjects).
  14. Conduct research using Twitter Search. Ask questions to tap your network.
  15. Create a Twitter List of Alumni, and share it!
  16. Curate and retweet items from related sources (parenting, development, local, Jewish, etc.).
  17. Do #FF (Follow Friday), #SS (Shabbat Shalom) and other weekly traditions.
  18. Share news about alumni and their accomplishments.
  19. Welcome new families to your school community. 
  20. Follow other teachers, schools, alumni, and people in your community and listen to how they use Twitter.

Above image credit: Flickr user MKHMarketing

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Originally published in EJewishPhilanthropy

During Open House season, schools are looking for ways to stand out among the crowd of institutions trying to reach prospective parents. Talking about a school’s “warm and nurturing community” and the “academic excellence” is only going to get the school so far.

So what else can schools do to rise above all the noise?

When we are faced with many choices, we often rely on word of mouth from friends in our social networks to help make our decisions. So it was clear to us at The Jewish Education Project that in order to promote the school in a unique way, we need to have the parents involved and we need to get the parents talking.

As Bonnie Raitt writes and sings, “Let’s give ‘em somethin’ to talk about.” Or in the 21st century version of this, let’s give parents something to Facebook about.

Parents who are part of the Parent to Parent (P2P) network have been learning about the power of social media to share their stories about Jewish day school education, and adding their voices through local parenting blogs and the Parent to Parent site. The challenge has been to keep them talking, especially during peak periods, such as open house season. Here’s where the campaign approach comes in.

The P2P campaign model organizes parents for a specific time period to talk about a value, an idea, an event – any focus point unique to the school that will help prospective parents get a better idea of what that school, and the community it fosters, is all about.

A very creative campaign can promote the school, without necessarily talking about academic excellence or the nurturing environment. Take for example a marketing campaign for Mercy Academy, an all-girls’ Catholic school in Louisville, Kentucky. In an article about the campaign, the writer explains “The campaign, created by Doe-Anderson, a Louisville-based advertising agency, is meant to reflect one of the school’s core goals: to help its students become independent, productive women in the real world.” And as you can see in the ad, they didn’t need to show science labs or innovative technology to get the message across.

Jewish day school education is first and foremost about imparting positive values to our children. You know it when you experience a Jewish day school education. We need to give parents a framework to convey those values with their friends.

A P2P Campaign in Action: Mazel Day School

The highly engaged and motivated parents of Mazel Day School (MDS) of Brooklyn were the brave pioneers who first experimented with this approach. When I asked the parents what they love about the school, most of them had a real, emotional reaction to the question and talked about the school’s successful approach to imparting positive values. They are extremely proud to see their children grown into mensches.

It was no surprise that they suggested a Photo Mitzvah Campaign promoting the value of the children doing good deeds by inviting parents in Brooklyn to submit pictures of their child doing a mitzvah or good deed. The Mazel parents wanted to reach parents from Jewish early childhood centers in the area, so they partnered with several of them on the campaign. The submitted photos were shared on Mazel Day School Facebook page. The photo with the most “Likes” on Facebook won a $400 Amazon Gift Card.

Mazel Day School parents gave out fliers in the early childhood centers, emailed their friends, sent Facebook messages and talked to other families. The parents now had something to talk about.

The campaign ran for five weeks and opened new doors for the school to reach prospective parents. For the first time, Mazel Day School officially partnered with early childhood centers in the area: KingsBay Y, JCH of Bensonhurst, and Shorefront Y. These new relationships can now be leveraged for other partnership opportunities and for reaching prospective parents. The campaign increased exposure of the school to the broader community. Mazel Day School Parents overheard parents who were not part of the school talking about the contest. The Mazel Facebook page experienced a significant boost during the competition period, including 50 news likes on the Facebook page. The last time they had so much traffic was when their school was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy; now the attention was due to a positive story that truly highlighted the school and the community. In their reflection about the implementation of the campaign, the Mazel parents wanted to organize a larger group of parents to lead and implement the campaign to reach an even larger audience of prospective parents.

At their upcoming open house, the school will ask prospective parents how they found out about the school. At this time, the Mazel parents will be able to evaluate more specifically the reach of their campaign and where they need to focus their future outreach efforts.

Action Steps: Running a P2P Campaign in Your School’s Community

Consider experimenting with this campaign approach to promote your school. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Invite a minimum of three parents in your school to run a campaign.
  • The parents should identify a value, event, or other unique aspect of the school that excites them and would be appealing prospective parents. If it doesn’t galvanize your current parent body, don’t do it, because they won’t be talking about it with their friends.
  • Identify your target audience; be very specific on who you want to reach with the campaign. Mazel parents aimed specifically for parents of children in local early childhood programs, for instance.
  • Get talking! Play around with different social media tools to spread the word about the campaign. Empower parents with the tools they need to keep the conversation rolling.
  • Most importantly, make it fun! Turn it into a competition, make it into a game. Let the parents get really creative and make it their own.

Best-selling author Seth Godin writes: “Stories are the way we navigate our world, our chance to make sense of who we are and what we do.[…] Nonprofits make change, and the way they do this is by letting us tell ourselves stories that nurture our best selves.” Creating a buzz and chatter around your school requires giving parents a great story to talk about. Day school parents are part of a movement committed to giving their children the greatest Jewish education possible. Let’s build that movement; let’s help parents get their stories out.

What will your community share?

Parent to Parent is an initiative of The Jewish Education Project and is made possible by a grant from UJA-Federation of NY. Learn more about Parent to Parent on our website, blog, Facebook and follow us on Twitter. If you are a New York area day school and would like to get staff assistance to implement this project, contact Irene Lehrer Sandalow, Project Manager in the Day School Department of The Jewish Education Project at isandalow@jewishedproject.org.

3 Rules for Buying New Technology

Originally published on Sage70.com

Whether you’re just switching over from Constant Contact to Mailchimp, or taking the plunge and implementing a custom Salesforce solution, change is hard. For all the promised benefits of new technology, the success rate for adopting new tools is low, and that’s frightening.

What can leaders do to help staff adopt new technologies successfully?

Technology change isn’t easy. Workers need to adopt a new workflow, re-learn how to perform familiar tasks, sometimes on new equipment that they’re not familiar with. To help ease the transition, here are three rules for IT change management.

 

3 Rules for Users and Technology Change

  • New tools must be generous to the user. If users need to put information into the system, then they must be rewarded with useful and relevant information out of the system right away. If users need to interact with the system frequently, it should be user-friendly and accessible from within the user’s normal workflow.
  • Systems that are used prospectively are adopted more easily than systems that are used retrospectively. In other words, tools that ask people to report on their work are less attractive and relevant to users than tools that make their work easier to do.
  • Everyone who uses the new tool has the right to give feedback and receive training. If you need a lot of people to stop using one system and begin using another, getting their feedback about the move, providing training, and then getting feedback again is critical. It helps buy more people into the process, allays some fears, and can help identify unexpected problems or issues. Remember, some users will need training for even the most intuitive tools.

Technology change is really about people. New tools should help them do their job by providing new data and insights, simpler workflows, and more time leverage. If you’re considering a technology “upgrade” that doesn’t provide that to your organization, you may be headed down the wrong path. Listen to your employees, provide training up front, and let users experience the benefits of the new tool as soon as possible.

Isaac is the president and founder of Sage70, Inc. Isaac brings over a decade of experience in the non-profit and for-profit venture ecosystems. Isaac has served as Executive Director of Storahtelling, COO of Birthright Israel NEXT and is an experienced technologist and strategist.

Why You Need to Embrace Relationship Based Engagement

Guest post from Rabbi Aaron Spiegel. This post is part of a series on networks and network weaving.

Synagogue 3000 just released a report entitled “Reform and Conservative Congregations: Different Strengths, Different Challenges.” The report could just as easily been entitled something like “Synagogues are Fading Into Obscurity,” but that would be a little too provocative. The data is clear; the institution best positioned to provide the full richness of Jewish life is becoming irrelevant for most American Jews. More disturbing is that our research shows some 70% of young Jewish adults, those between the ages of 23 and 39, have no connection to the established Jewish community (synagogues, Federation, JCC’s, etc.). While many in the Jewish world talk about Jewish continuity and protecting the future of American Judaism, most of the proposed solutions have had little effect. The good news is we’ve also learned that this majority of young Jews are very interested in Judaism, just not the way we’re offering it.

While most in the congregational world talk about outreach, Synagogue 3000 learned that this moniker has a negative connotation. Outreach says, albeit subtly, “I’m reaching out to you so you can come to me and have what I want to offer you.” The community, particularly those young, single Jews who are our potential future are saying, “no thanks.” Instead of outreach Synagogue 3000 changed the conversation to engagement. Learning from the church world and community organizing, Synagogue 3000 created Next Dor (dor is Hebrew for generation) – an engagement program. Participating synagogues agree to dedicate a staffer, most often a rabbi, whose primary job is to meet young Jews where they are – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. These engagement workers are charged with finding young Jews, be they in bars, coffee houses, local gyms, etc., and finding ways of engaging them in conversation to create relationships. Relationships create trust, which creates other relationships, which creates opportunity for real engaging conversations about life and what Judaism has to offer. One of the key points is that this engagement and these relationships are l’shma, for their own sake. Synagogue membership is not the goal – connecting Jews to Judaism is.

While the goal is engaging young Jews in Judaism, several of the Next Dor partner synagogues are discovering tangible benefits. Next Dor D.C., a project of Temple Micah was one of the first adopters. Rabbi Danny Zemel, a proponent of this engagement model before Next Dor existed, knew that Temple Micah needed to engage this unaffiliated and disaffected population. As a Next Dor pilot synagogue, Temple Micah hired Rabbi Esther Lederman as their engagement worker. A big part of Esther’s job is having one-on-one meetings with young Jews, usually in coffee shops. Now in its fourth year, Next Dor D.C. has gone from one-on-one meetings to regular Shabbat dinners at Esther’s home to annual free High Holy Day services for young adults, led by Esther and Michelle Citrin. The results – young Jewish adults are joining Temple Micah.

Some have dubbed this approach “relational Judaism” which seems something of an oxymoron. Judaism is at its essence (at least in my opinion) all about relationships. Unfortunately, congregations have focused on other things like supporting infrastructure, b’nai mitzvah training, and programming. More than the first two, the focus on programming is the irrelevance linchpin. Rather than engaging Jews in what’s important in their lives, synagogues program based on anecdotal information. When numbers fall the default synagogue response is to seek better programming rather than forming relationships with members, finding out what’s really important in their lives, and being responsive to their needs. Interestingly enough, while Synagogue 3000 envisioned the relational approach targeting young Jewish adults, the Next Dor communities are discovering it works with everyone.

Is your synagogue willing to form relationships with people who might not become members? Is your rabbi really willing to “be known” by synagogue members? What are your biggest obstacles to moving from a program-based community to relationship-based? Relationships, it’s all about the relationships!

Rabbi Aaron Spiegel is the CEO of Synagogue 3000. The report was the result of Synagogue 3000’s participation in FACT (Faith Communities Today), the largest and most comprehensive surveyor of faith communities in the United States.

 This post is part of a series on networks and network weaving that Darim Online is curating to advance the communal conversation about relationship focused Jewish communities.  Thanks to UJA Federation of New York for supporting our research and this blog series.  Click here to see other related posts in the series.