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 [email protected]

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.

Monday Web Favorites: A JewPoint0 2013 Retrospective

As 2013 winds down, I found myself poring over past JewPoint0 blog posts. A LOT of stories, insightful moments, cool tools, and practical wisdom has been handed down in these pages. I thought I'd take a moment to share some of my favorites from the year that's passed…

  • Four Lessons for Maturing Your Social Media Practice: Evidence from the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy – All of our social media academy and boot camp participants share amazing moments, and it's tough to choose one or two to highlight…so here's a post that brings you some great moments from not one, not two, but ten different institutions. What a bargain, eh? One of my favorite take-aways from this post is the idea that social media is about people, not technology. Keep that in mind and you're already ahead of the game.
     
  • Using Social Media to Strengthen Culture of Welcome – I especially love this small moment shared in an overall lovely and reflective post by Rabbi Ed Bernstein, "…we then went right to the issue of creating a culture of welcome at the synagogue. People were asked to complete the sentence: “My first time being welcomed to Temple Torah was…,” and there was great response. One older congregant was bold enough to post that she didn’t feel so welcome, but I utilized this opportunity to reach out to her publicly and privately, and she appreciated that.”

    This must have been such a powerful moment for this woman, for Rabbi Bernstein, and a potentially meaningful one for dozens of others who saw the interaction. I commend the Rabbi not only for his actions in this situation, but for sharing this story here; it’s a great example of transparency and what it means to live and learn in the connected age.

  • Two posts about thankfulness: Thankful and Being Thankful – Ellen Dietrick's post "Thankful" is not only a great story, but shares some clever tools for generating, and repurposing, content from and with your community. Michael Hoffman's "Being Thankful" is a super practical guide to showing appreciation to the people who help make your work happen, all year round.

We're looking for new stories and new voices to share in 2014!

Have a bit of insight, a great case study, a cool resource or tool and interesting implementation, a personal reflection, or a big question you want to pose to the community? We'd love to hear it, and perhaps share it here. Be in touch with Miriam Brosseau in the comments or over email to find out about guest blogging. Here's to another year of learning together.

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.

Monday Web Favorites: 2013 Imagery and Inspiration Edition

As we come closer to the end of 2013, sites are releasing their obligatory "best of" lists. Here are a few of our favorites, for your inspiration…

First off, Tumblr's Year in Review is well worth checking out. Tumblr is a hip, funky, user-friendly and lightweight blogging platform that excels at imagery and attitude. Here's a bit about the "best of" list they're producing

The retrospective starts Tuesday at http://YearinReview.tumblr.com with an exploration of 20 categories ranging from the most popular musical groups to the most interesting architecture of 2013. Boasting a plethora of images, the review will continue through December with daily posts that will culminate on New Year's Eve with the best fireworks displays featured on Tumblr during the year.

Our take-aways for the Jewish communal set?

  • Scan the most-reblogged posts and people. What can you learn? What do these posts have in common? What kinds of images, what types of language, etc., really work?
  • Are you using Tumblr? It's a great place to connect with teens. Tumblr is also flexible enough to be used to produce a full website, or can easily pop up for the sake of a single event, conference, or trip.
  • Are there ways for you to capitalize on what Tumblr thinks is hip? What kind of connections can you make between "trending topics" and your work to help get the word out about your organization or cause?

And up next: we normally wouldn't re-post something from Buzzfeed, the site we all waste time on and love to hate/hate to love, but this one seemed especially apropos: the 21 Most Creative Instagram Accounts of 2013. Honestly, this post is not really about the photo-sharing service Instagram, or even about photos, but about the role of surprise and delight. Take a look at these accounts, what do they have in common? To us, they both surprise and delight their viewers. How can our social spaces do the same for our communities?

 

…and we'll close with some good ol' nonprofit video. Enjoy the winners of the 2013 DoGooder Awards!

What have been your web favorites lately? Share in the comments, or send them to Miriam directly, and they could be featured here next time!

Monday Web Favorites: Bob Dylan, Blended Learning, and Karaoke Havdalah

It’s video, video, video on this week’s edition of web favorites! Watch on…

  • Bob Dylan fans and media buffs, rejoice! The first official video for Dylan's classic song “Like a Rolling Stone” was just released, and Wired Magazine calls it “an interactive masterpiece.” The video allows viewers to flip through channels on a “television,” only every program features characters (many of whom you will recognize) lip-synching the words to the song. This format is strangely engaging, with its simultaneous retro and tech-forward feel. Take a break and flip channels. (Our take-away for Jewish communal professionals? It validates the many ways to engage with and experience "tradition" – no right or wrong, better or worse. For lack of a better analogy, this is a great embodiment of "peoplehood". There's something in here about the diversity and user control of the exploration…it's inviting. There's more to explore and learn here; as this technology develops, the cultural implications may get richer.)
     
  • On a different note, Jewish educator and technologist Russel Neiss recently created this provocative video combining a recent presentation on blended learning and B. F. Skinner’s 1954 “learning machine.” It’s worth watching with a colleague, not only for the content and the discussion it may spur, but as a great example of the power and implications of mashup culture: 

  • And finally, the latest work from the talented folks over at G-dcast, a Havdalah Karaoke video made in collaboration with Moishe House, is a visually and musically lovely way to close out Shabbat and welcome the new week. It's the first in a three-part series of similar videos. Not only might these videos be a useful tool for your community, but they're a great example of both an unlikely and beautiful collaboration, and how technology might help us be more welcoming in our communities for folks of all comfort levels with prayer and ritual. Enjoy, and have a great week!

Have web favorites you're dying to share? Let us know in the comments, or send them to Miriam via email and they may just show up here next week!

Vine vs. Instrgram Video. How Do They Compare?

 

This past week, Facebook launched a video component to their already immensely popular photo platform, Instagram, in order to compete with Vine, the short form video app by Twitter.

Vine

vine_icon.png Launched by Twitter, Vine is a micro-video app that allows you to record six-second videos on your phone and share them on Vine and Twitter. You can record all 6 seconds at once, or break up the six seconds to record separate images in a series or "stop motion" style. Vine then displays the videos in a loop, similar to a GIF.  (Yes, you might be thinking, 'aren't animated GIFs so 1999?'  Yes, but they are making a retro comeback, especially through Tumblr and with new tools like Vine).  In some cases the looping effect holds your attention longer, and allows for a deeper understanding of what might appear simple on the surface.  But in some cases the looping effect can be annoying.  Perhaps in the future Vine will allow it as an option.

After downloading the app, you can start and stop the video by tapping and holding the screen. When finished, you simply upload the video and can add comments and hashtags. Similar to Twitter, when tagged, a video can be seen by anyone, but you only see videos by users you follow in your feed. Vine videos can be embedded anywhere on the web and uploaded to Twitter and Facebook as well. A quick Vine tutorial is here.  Warning: it's slightly more than 6 seconds!

Instagram Video

instagram-icon.pngTo compete with Twitter’s new mini-video feature, Facebook launched its own version of Vine, via Instagram.  Instagram video is not a separate app, but rather incorporated within Instagram. Users simply download the updated version of the app and a new video button appears when taking photos on your phone. This video feature can be started and stopped like Vine, but can record up to 15 seconds and allows for editing and filters, similar to Instagram photos. Unlike Vine though, Instagram video can only be uploaded via Instagram or Facebook, whereas Vine can be embedded anywhere on the web.

Instagram video also includes a cover photo (you can choose which frame of the video you want to show when it's displayed as a still image — it doesn't have to be the very first frame), and video stabilization.  These videos do not loop as Vine does.  A quick Instragram tutorial is here.  Also more than 15 seconds!

 

So what should I be using?

Vine does have the largest audience in terms of short video app users. But that audience is only 11% of the total video sharing market, whereas Instagram holds 35% of the photo sharing market, and has 130 million users. Despite the newness of Instagram and the fact that you're not currently able to embed those videos, its audience and relevancy eclipse Vine’s, and it offers more features.

The looping of Vine and the ability to embed the videos elsewhere online can, and will, probably be added to Instagram in the future. But since both are free, it doesn’t hurt to download both and see which one you like better.  If you're already a regular Instagram user, it may make sense to integrate your short format video work into that existing channel.  If you have not created an Instagram channel for your organization, you may find Vine more attractive since you can embed those videos elsewhere to augment other channels.

Here’s a breakdown via TechCrunch (read the whole article here):

instagram-vs-vine5.jpg

 

 

 

Video Video Video. You Need It. Here’s How.

Video matters.  It grabs more attention, tells a story more effectively than text, is easily sharable on social media channels, and can be a conversation starter (how many times have you said to a friend, "have you seen that TED Talk about …"?)

Recently, YouTube, See3, and Edelman teamed up to survey the role of video within the non-profit world.  Surveying over 450 respondents representing a vast array of nonprofit organizations, the study revealed that nearly all nonprofits recognize the importance of video (91% of respondents say they want to be making more video).  Yet respondents were less confident about their capabilities to effectively utilize video in their communications strategy, and how much they should be investing in creating high quality, professional video assets, as 76% responded that they don’t know how to measure video success analytically.  

While an increasing number of nonprofits are learning about the power of creating their own video assets, there are many ways you can leverage video in your work.

1) Not all video needs to be highly professional.  Jewish Community High School of the Bay recorded a brief video of a student leading a Zumba class.  This snippet was gold on Facebook as they began to shift their social media strategy to a more transparent community building approach.  Informal (yet still high quality with attention to sound and lighting) works well, in the right setting. See our post about the new short format video apps Vine (on Twitter) and Instagram for tips on creating even shorter videos.


2) Curate great video content from others.  IKAR was smart in creating a video that sent a powerful message that was applicable to a wide audience.  While the video clearly adds to the IKAR brand, it was really easy to forward and repost because of the universal message.  This is creating social content at its best.  Many individuals and organizations reposted this video because it fit with their own brand and personal ethos. 

3) Use video as a conversation starter.   ELI Talks are a series of short, thought provoking videos of live talks related to Jewish community and culture.  Conceptually derived from TED Talks, ELI Talks are a great way to begin deep conversations among staff, boards and other groups about issues of great importance to the Jewish community.  For example, Rabbi Sid Schwarz’s talk describes his experience taking a group of synagogue members to volunteer in Haiti, and Gidi Greenstein's talk explores the balance between flexibility and rigidity as we chart our course into the Jewish future. You can find discussion questions underneath each video to get the ball rolling in your conversations.

4) Go small.  Two new applications have recently taken off that allow you to record short — very short — videos via an app.  Vine is the Twitter based app (6 seconds), and Instagram just release their own version (15 seconds).  By definition these are short, and if you use them well, short and sweet.  Many nonprofits are creating simple videos that help viewers connect to their mission powerfully by 'reporting from the field' (see the Humane Society and Charity:Water examples).  Other brands are putting in more effort (often with stop-motion design) to create powerful mini-mercials (see these examples from Etsy and lululemon).  Collections of short videos like this, a regularity of posting them, help tell a story in a unique and powerful way, that's quick and authentic.

For more about the survey and resources to help you improve your video efforts, check out the full YouTube/See3/Edelman survey report and online video guide here.

How are you using video? Share your stories and post links in the comments.