4 scheduling tools to streamline your school's marketing ⌚️🙌

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
— Annie Dillard, author & poet

Time management in schools is an important facet of day-to-day work. We all know school life is busy, often bordering on hectic, so being able to manage time effectively is an essential skill to master. This remains true for all staff - from the Head, to the teachers, to the admins and registrars, to the marketing team.

Thankfully, there a plenty of tools to help you achieve this - especially for all you marketeers. We will look at 4 scheduling tools to help streamline your school's marketing and free up more time for other ventures 👍

 

Buffer remains a firm favourite at @intSchools HQ. For us, it's a fantastic tool for scheduling across our different channels. 

Pros:

  • connects to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram & Pinterest (Awesome accounts only)
  • very simple interface for scheduling
  • clean design - helps you focus on crafting content
  • easy to post to multiple channels at the same time
  • it's FREE (you can upgrade to a pro service)
  • connect URL link shortening services (i.e. bitly)
  • has a mobile app
  • integrates with Pablo for quick visual content creation

Cons:

  • purely for scheduling - no interactivity with your community
  • limited analytics and reporting
  • FREE account allows you to only connect one profile per channel (and no Pinterest)

Buffer's charm comes from its intuitive and simple infrastructure. It allows for easy scheduling and more focus when writing posts - without the distraction of loads of data bits.

Use Pablo to create visual content. HINT: perfect for quotes

Use Pablo to create visual content. HINT: perfect for quotes

We like Buffer because it allows us to leverage auto-posting. This means we can spend a little time in the morning planning our content for the day, schedule it on Buffer and know it will be sent out. 

How can you use it on your school?

This does not mean that it is perfect for your school. A large part of your marketing relies on being able to monitor and engage across your channels - which Buffer is not great for.

The consideration is simple: if you want a tool for planning your content on and nothing else, Buffer is ideal. If you want a tool to plan, monitor and engage on your social channels then there are others to consider.

Buffer is a useful tool but has limitations that perhaps make it less ideal for schools. Check our in-depth guide to Buffer here - and see if you feel if it's suitable for you.

 

Where Buffer is simple and clean, HootSuite comes in with lots and lots of features to offer you a bespoke and customisable tool for your social media.

Pros:

  • connects to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram & YouTube
  • can connect further "extensions" such as MailChimp, SoundCloud, Blogger (over 160 to choose from)
  • extensive reports and analytics
  • can make your dashboard bespoke to what you need, per channel
  • Hootsuite Academy provides you with all the tools you need to use the platform
  • schedule a single piece of content across multiple channels easily
  • can assign and schedule updates
  • has a mobile app

Cons:

  • dashboard can be initially overwhelming
  • free version is quite limited (Hootsuite wants you to sign-up for a plan)
  • reports (ranging from $50 - $500!) and third-party extensions (usually a monthly charge) can quickly add up
  • can only use Hootsuite's own URL link shortener (owl.ly)

We all know that managing multiple social media accounts can be time consuming, particularly if you're a smaller school and do not have a dedicated marketing person / team. Hootsuite is a highly recommended utility to help combat time restraints and get you engaging more effectively with your community.

How can you use it on your school?

Hootsuite offers unrivalled analytics and ability to control multiple streams of social media. The major drawback can come down to costs - it is not the cheapest platform available; schools with limited marketing budgets are likely to be put off by this.

However, if cost is not an issue and you can invest time into learning Hootsuite intimately, (they have all the resources you could possibly need for this via Hootsuite Academy) then it is a fantastic tool. In short, it means you can post, reply, like, engage, schedule and source content for all your different channels.

Schools, more and more, are taking to using multiple channels. Having tools such as Hootsuite or SproutSocial (below) to help administer them will ultimately prove to be a huge timesaver.

 

SproutSocial has risen to fame quickly, and with good reason too! It is a robust and intuitive tool. It does not have the same level of depth as Hootsuite, but does have more to offer over Buffer.

It is the middle-ground of the platforms we have explored in this article but fully deserves consideration as a top scheduling tool you can utilise effectively.

Pros:

  • connects to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ & Instagram
  • you can also connect Google Analytics 👍
  • can add multiple profiles and groups (very handy if you oversee a group of schools)
  • multiple users can access - each with customisable admin rights
  • has a mobile app
  • can connect RSS feeds
  • can view Twitter and LinkedIn walls / feeds
  • can use bit.ly for URL link shortening
  • can assign tasks to yourself or other users for better planning

Cons:

  • does not connect to more visual channels such as YouTube or Pinterest 
  • feeds are quite hard (visually to navigate)
  • can be expensive - especially for teams
  • easy to read reports but quite limited
  • hard to keep track of engagement (e.g. who you have replied to or liked)

SproutSocial, much like Hootsuite, gives you (and your team) better control over your social media. The more that your school invests in multiple social channels the more it becomes essential to use tools to keep that control firmly in place. 

How can you use it on your school?

We consider SproutSocial to be as useful as Hootsuite - particularly in smaller schools where costs are a genuine concern.

The major question for many boils down to usability. We find many first-comers to scheduling and management tools don't want to spend lots of time learning how to use them - making Sprout a fantastic choice! It is a simple, clean platform that can be quickly accessed and understood. If scheduling and management is the main aim then use SproutSocial. If this plus detailed analytics and reports are desired, Hootsuite may be the better option.

 

Ah TweetDeck - another favourite for the @intSchools team 😃 . TweetDeck is owned by Twitter and is exclusively for Twitter. This means it has evolved to be the ultimate Twitter tool - and can do everything Twitter can do (often better).

Pros:

  • especially designed for Twitter (owned by Twitter)
  • it's free - completely FREE!
  • easy to learn
  • can create bespoke dashboards to monitor Twitter as you require
  • few everything in real-time
  • very good browser-based platform

Cons:

  • only for Twitter (depends how you would view this 😉)
  • no reports or statistics
  • having lots of columns open can be hard to navigate on small screens
  • browser-based only: no app available  (makes it harder to use on mobile devices)
  • makes us say Twitter a lot...Twitter 

TweetDeck looks like a lot to begin with, but once you grasp the idea of columns it is incredibly easy to use for monitoring. As a tool specifically for Twitter it cannot be rivalled; especially when all data streams in real-time (no more refreshing your Twitter wall to see the latest Tweets). 

Viewing TweetDeck be like...

Viewing TweetDeck be like...

How can you use it on your school?

If Twitter lies at the core of your marketing - something we are seeing more and more in schools - then TweetDeck is easily the best tool for you. It enables you to not only manage your Twitter accounts (no matter how many there are) but also engage quickly and easily with your community. The use of columns makes the layout simple enough to follow, and live data feeds gives you the most efficient way to monitor activity.

Getting onto TweetDeck is easy and really should be used by any school that is using more than one Twitter account as part of their marketing. You can read our handy TweetDeck guide here.

 

Do you use any of the above in your school for monitoring, scheduling and reporting? What about any that we have not listed here - we'd love to know about them 😄. Please leave comments below.

At @intSchools we want schools to use social media effectively.

If you want to talk to us about social media training or strategy please do get in touch. We 'get' schools, we 'get' marketing, and we 'get' technology.

5 Essential Facebook Tips

Facebook is a marketing giant. In fact, if Facebook was a country it would be the most populated country in the world!

This means using Facebook as part of your school's marketing is simply a good idea. With a population of 1.86 billion users (as of the end of 2016) it is likely the vast majority of your community, the parents currently at or interested in your school, are Facebook users.

We have listed 5 advanced tips to help you get the most out of the marketing behemoth. 

[1] Verify the Page

As a business, your Page is eligible to be verified by Facebook. This means you are officially recognised as an organisation, and parents will be able to find you more effectively. Not only this, but this little tick by your name becomes a badge of security - when people see it they will feel safer about liking and interacting with your Page.

Prerequisites

There are a few criteria that should be met before you can attempt to verify your school's Page:

  • Have a profile picture (the little, square thumbnail)
  • Have a header image (the long, rectangular picture at the top of the Page)

If these are met you should see the option to verify in your Page's Settings.

How to verify your Page

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. From General, click Page Verification
  3. Click Verify this Page, then click Get Started
  4. Enter a publicly listed phone number for your business, your country and language
  5. Click Call Me Now to allow Facebook to call you with a verification code
  6. Enter the 4-digit verification code and click Continue

It is also possible to verify using a business document. Simply follow the same steps but click Verify this Page with documents instead, at the bottom-left of the window that appears. You can then upload a picture of an official document (e.g. phone bill / utility bill) showing your school's name and address.

Merging Unofficial Pages

You may have noticed that Facebook has an unofficial / unmanaged Page of your school. These are created when people tag or check-in at your school without using your official account (perhaps your account wasn't set up at the time).

After you have verified your Page it becomes possible to merge the official with the unofficial - nice right! Sometimes, Facebook will do this automatically for you - double nice!

This is nice and simple to do:

  1. Click Is this your business? below the Page's cover photo (on the unofficial Page)
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions
  3. Click Merge [your school's name] into a Verified Page you manage

Please note that:

  • People who liked and checked-in on the unofficial Page will be added to your verified one
  • Posts, photos, reviews and the username from the unofficial Page are deleted.

[2] Create a 'Call to Action'

Facebook added the Call to Action button to business Pages towards the end of 2014. A call to action is nothing new to marketing - and having stood the test of time a simple, effective way to get interaction.

As a school you want your community to primarily be using the Contact Us button - driving queries directly to a school email address or phone number. 

Adding a Call to Action button to your Page

  1. Go to your Page’s cover photo and click + Add a Button
  2. Choose your call-to-action, and enter the URL for your website
  3. Click Create
  4. Choose the relevant Call to Action button (i.e. Contact Us)

Once you've created a call-to-action button, you can track the number of people who have clicked on the button. There are two ways to view this information:

  1. Hover over your Page’s Create Call to Action button and then hover over View Insights to see how many clicks it’s received in the past seven days

  2. Go to This week on the right-side of your Page and hover over the box showing the name of your call to action

[3] Use 'Insights' to get demographic data on parents

Insights are Facebook's term for analytics. By making use of tools such as Insights, you are able to start answering one of the most primary marketing questions: WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

Getting lots of engagement on your posts is great - it's what you are looking for in one sense. But, getting lots of engagement from circles that are outside your community does not necessarily translate to the one thing you want from your school's marketing:  enquiries. 

Insights gives you the opportunity to start tailoring your content to suit the demographics which match your community.

You should already have a basic idea of which demographics you are aiming your marketing at - i.e. age groups, geographic location, general interests, spending habits - and this is all through analysing the parents that already have their children in your school.

In using Insights, and taking the next step, you can start analysing the individual people who are encountering your brand on Facebook. This allows you to actively curate the content that resonates best with your demographic and thus give you an idea on what your community wants to see.

[4] Upload native videos

Right now, videos are kicking up a storm in content marketing. Their popularity is so high that Facebook is actively pushing video content up on Newsfeeeds.

This means that utilising video content as part of your marketing strategy is a proven, effective way to get more engagement.

Facebook allows you to upload videos directly, or natively, (in the exact same way you would a photo) - instead of sharing a URL from a channel such as YouTube. There are various benefits for uploading native videos:

  • You are creating a gallery of video content on Facebook: In short, this means your community will be able to find your content easily. If you had shared a video via a link the user would have to trawl your Posts looking for it. 
  • It creates better reach: This means more engagement! Recent studies have shown that natively hosted videos have a 135% increase in organic reach over videos hosted on other platforms and shared by link. This is true even when compared to photos and images.
  • Editing tools: Facebook has a basic video editing suite built into the platform. This gives you some customisation on the video itself and how it looks when seen / played from your Newsfeed. Facebook's editing features allow you to:
    • Choose a thumbnail
    • Choose to have your videos autoplay (if users have this enabled)
    • Add subtitles and/or captions
    • Add a call-to-action to the end of your video
  • Improved analytics: Hosting videos natively means you get to see how people react to it more efficiently - thus moulding your marketing strategy. On Facebook their is a video section within Page Insights. The improved analytics will allow you to see:
    • How many views over 3 seconds and
    • How many views over 10 seconds
    • Most viewed / top videos
    • Level of engagement (likes / shares)

[5] It's not a #hashtag game on Facebook

#Hashtags on Facebook do not have the same effect as they do on channels such as Twitter or Instagram. Understanding the art of what should go into Posts is important, especially when looking to keep your community engaged (which should be all the time 😉).

Research shows that Posts with hashtags get less engagement - so why look to go against this evidence.

Here are a few ideas for creating top, engaging Posts on your Page:

  • Questions and Posts with images achieve the highest level of engagement. These are Posts that your community can actively share, comment on and talk about
  • Short form Posts (less than 50 characters) are interacted with the most - people want quick to read, easy to digest Posts (preferably with an image) and not to spend their time reading essays
  • If you want to use long form then link to it - don't put it all in a post. Blogs are a perfect place to do this
  • Touching on the point above - embed videos (i.e. from YouTube) so they auto-play in a user's wall

[BONUS TIP] Use Facebook Live

Live-streaming services are coming thick and fast on social media. We predicted Live-streaming would be a big trend in 2017, and it looks like our prediction is already fulfilled! So, why should you be using it?

  • Google searches for "Facebook Live stream" have risen 330% since the Facebook Live rollout
  • Facebook Live videos are viewed 3x longer than standard videos
  • Engagement, in terms of user comments, has seen an increase of up to 10x, compared to normal video
  • Live-streaming will continue to dominate this year!

Check our handy guide for getting your school set up on Facebook Live.


Facebook has a wealth of tools which can help drive your marketing to your community more efficiently. In understanding these tools, and using them correctly, you are giving your school a boost in standing out against your competitors. 

Remember, Facebook is massive! This means that while you can reach more people, and it is also likely more of your parents are using Facebook over other channels, there needs to be an effective strategy in place - otherwise your content will be washed away and not seen.

We are here to help! If you have any queries regarding Facebook and social media please do get in touch, or leave a comment below. 

Do children really care about privacy & data protection? (Part 2: Children online)

In Part 1 of 'Do children really care about privacy & date protection?' we explored how teachers and parents have a responsibility to ensure younger generations are safe online. Much of this responsibility stems from adults understanding these issues implicitly themselves - so they can champion good practice and safe use to children.

In this follow-up article we will look at these issues from a child's perspective. 

Digital Natives

In the last 10 years we have watched the behaviour of the world change. Sounds unbelievable but it is fact. From the richest 1% to people living in some of the poorer places on Earth, mobile technology has influenced lives and behavioural patterns. It has made it possible for these incredibly separate worlds to interact with one another. Something that Richard Branson posts on Facebook can be seen and interacted with by anyone owning a mobile device.

We saw these changes develop - albeit in a profoundly short amount of time - but the younger generation did not. Kids born today don't understand a world without Facebook! They haven't grown up in a world where food, entertainment, transport, education and Peppa Pig is not at their fingertips.

They are digital natives - they are born into tech and are growing up with tech.

What does this mean regarding privacy and data protection?  

On the one hand, many adults will agree their kids understand how to use the digital tools available better than themselves. Their kids are after all, as natural with tech as a fish is to water. On the other hand, you wouldn't give a blowtorch to a child without first guiding them in proper use...would you? 

This latter thought raises an interesting point: adults know blowtorches are dangerous. Fire = danger - we've known this since the Stone Age. What we don't know as well is Internet = danger. It is too new a discovery for the pitfalls to be ultimately realised. This means safeguarding children on the internet becomes harder - but it also means we can start leveraging their natural use of digital to help overcome this challenge.

Overcoming the challenge

So, what steps can we take to achieve this? What tools can we utilise to make digital use safer for our children? What techniques can we employ to make their data and digital presence more secure?

T&C's - opening their eyes?

In Part 1 we brought up the conundrum of Terms & Conditions - how most adults don't even read these when signing up for services such as Facebook or Gmail. This results in the blind leading the blind...how can kids possibly understand what they are signing up for if most adults don't either?

To help combat this situation the UK Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has suggested two steps for schools and digital businesses to take:

1. T&C's should be simple enough for a child to understand: most adults don't read the T&C's for one simple reason - they aren't easy to read. If companies were to rewrite them into simple language more people would be able to comprehend them - particularly children. This has been dubbed by Ms Longfield as giving children power online.

2. Schools should provide Digital Citizenship education: for kids to understand their rights and responsibilities online, schools should be providing the right knowledge. Digital Citizenship education is one way to do this. While lessons such as ICT do provide basic applications in digital safety, for many these lessons start too late in a pupil's life. Instead, Ms Longfield would like to see Digital Citizenship education starting as early as 4 years old.

The first steps of a digital footprint

For many of the younger generation coming onto social media, they won't understand what a digital footprint is. This throws up all sorts of issues regarding how they operate online.

One simple test to ask pupils to do is to Google themselves - it is often surprising what information comes up! In doing this it should make the ideal of a digital footprint much clearer and instil an understanding that what goes online remains online. 

From this, it becomes easier to direct children in using social media safely. It needs to be made clear that posting rude pictures or attacking someone else online has consequences, which are not easy to escape from. However, it should also be made clear that digital footprints are not to be feared! Employing good, and safe, practice when using social media and the internet will negate the negative side.

Summary

Through this exploration, we hope that understanding issues of privacy and data protection online from both an adult's and child's perspective have been made clearer. Digital is still relatively new and there are no right or wrong ways to use it! All we can do is ensure that we, as adults, are educated on the pitfalls and pass this on to our children - the people who will be using digital more and more as they grow up.

It is not an easy task - digital now will continue to evolve; what is true today may not be true tomorrow. However, despite its evolution if the younger generation understand what their rights are as digital citizens, what they are agreeing to when they sign up for accounts, and how far reaching the internet is then they will be better prepared for tomorrow.


#intSchoolsLIVE - FREE School Marketing Workshops

On the back of hugely successful marketing strategy days in New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, Malaysia, Thailand, and around the UK, we are looking at planning EVEN MORE. 

The world of tech / web / mobile / social is changing more rapidly than ever. We are opening up our 'Secret Box' of tricks, sharing our 'Magic Sauce' - and letting you into our creative, digital & social world (which is rather fun)!

We currently have more than 10 workshops in the pipeline, where we will be covering the following:

  • Digital Marketing Impact (making your marketing STAND OUT)
  • Parent Engagement (start being effective, not just ‘busy’)
  • Content Strategy (what, when, who, why, where to telling a story)
  • Social Media (the changing behaviours of connected parents)
  • Monitoring, Measurement, Reporting (understand & deliver real ROI)
  • SEO (the rules have changed, but has your strategy)
  • Google Analytics (let’s unlock dashboards, deep segmentation and more)
  • AdWords + Social Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn)

Pretty exciting, huh?

There will be a limit to the number of delegates, so we can give you hands-on advice. If you'd like to be the first to know more, please register your interest.

Register your interest:

Name *
Name

Host an #intSchoolLIVE event at your school?

We would look to invite between 25 - 50 people involved in school marketing, admissions, external relations - and provide free CPD. We would co-brand it - and also market it. Great for your school PR too. 

All you need to do is provide a suitable room to present, access to wifi, and coffee. What do you think? Sounds great hey?

 

Thanks for reading - if there are any questions you have regarding this - or if you have any thoughts on what has been discussed - we would love to hear them. Please comment below.

Do children really care about privacy & data protection? (Part 1: Adults online)

Digital privacy and data protection is a big topic for schools adopting social media. It is the first time in history that teachers have less knowledge than the pupils - with so many kids having now been born into a socially connected world.

5-Myths-About-Digital-Natives.jpg

This means that extra work needs to put in to ensure pupils are using social media and digital tools safely. This does not stop at the classroom - parents also need to be educated to understand and guide their kids to safe digital usage...

...this is the assumption anyway! But do the younger generations need to be correctly guided in social media?

How clued up are they about privacy and data protection? Do they even care about it - is online security a serious consideration for your plugged-in kids?

 

Educating the educators

Before we can answer these questions you need to ask yourself how knowledgable are you in online safety?

 

T&C's - the blind leading the blind?

As adults we have greater scope to understand how social media works and to be savvy about what we sign up for. However, the simple reality is most of us aren't particularly savvy and will blindly agree to anything online.

Don't believe us? When did you take the time to read the Terms & Conditions for Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or iTunes, or Netflix, or Gmail? 

Without fail, each and every one of these services collect your data and you agreed for them to do so! Some use this data to refine their platforms, some use it to target you better with products and some will sell your information onto third parties. It may sound dodgy or seem unfair, but you agreed to let them do so.

With this in mind, how can your pupils and kids possibly understand their rights as digital users? 

 

Professional Reputation - digital is forever

As educators your reputation in your school is important. You are champions to your pupils - examples in how to learn not just academically but in all facets of their lives. It is essential then that you maintain a professional outlook in all facets of your life. The simple rule to always remember is this:

What happens on social media, stays on Google forever.

Suddenly, that silly thing you did a few years ago (for a laugh) becomes your digital legacy. The pupils in your school can (and mostly likely will) find it - even if your settings are set to private. 

Understanding this is an important step to understanding how you can better educate your pupils on their digital legacies. 

 

Issues of privacy: The rise of Sharenting

Have you heard of Sharenting? It is the name attributed to parents who share images of their own children on social media. It sounds harmless enough, but it is important to realise the consequences of this.

Most kids have started their life on social media before they are even born! It is nothing new to see pictures of ultrasounds - of parents celebrating their pregnancy. Beyond this, it is likely you have seen proud mummies and daddies plastering their Facebook or Instagram walls with baby pictures and videos. In fact, according to a survey, more than 90% of 2-year-olds in the US have a presence on social media.

This trend continues on for most parents indefinitely -  with toddlers and older having their photos continually shared online.

What is not being realised is that parents are creating digital footprints for their kids. This means that:

  1. Media of a person is being shared without permission. While this is not usually an issue with babies, it does raise an interesting question. If a child asks for their pics to stop being posted on social can the parent refuse? What digital rights do children have? Right now there is no one rule -  in much the same way that adults can't 100% stop friends and family posting pictures of them.
  2. It’s hard to UNDO content. For kids reaching the more awkward stages of their youth, fitting in is a huge worry for many. Many will be on social already (even if they are younger than 13), so having a collection of embarrassing photos and videos of them can lead to hard experiences. Good news (although laborious currently) - when they turn into an adult, they automatically become the right-holder for their data - and can go through the process of asking Google to remove any links or references to them. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals. In the future, this will be more automated and easier via AI.
  3. Private information is being shared. Think for a moment about the sharents you know on your own social media. Now think about all the details you know about their child - even if you have not seen them or the parents for a long time. You'll probably know their name, where they live, their age, date of birth, hair colour, eye colour, the school they go to. If you know these details it stands to reason that anyone can easily find them too. 

Resources: In and out of the classroom

You may be reading this and thinking MY GOODNESS! But fear not - we are not looking to scare monger people into never using social media again. In fact, we are all for social media, and want schools to be using it effectively and safely to help share #SchoolStories across their communities.

What needs to be the focus of this article is awareness, and understanding the consequences of poor privacy and data protection. 

There are plenty of great resources available, ranging from lesson plans for your pupils to taking control of your own digital citizenship. We have listed some below 👍

  • The UK Safer Internet Centre - the organisation behind Safer Internet Day - is a great place to start. Their site is filled with lots of tips, articles and advice for your pupils to better understand e-safety. It also tackles large issues such as what to do if pupils have witnessed or been involved in cyber bullying.

The site is split into three sections for easier navigation - dependent on who is looking for advice:

  1. Young People
  2. Parents and Carers
  3. Teachers and Professionals
  • Likewise, edutopia has curated a Digital Citizenship Resource list - collecting articles, videos, and other resources on internet safety, cyberbullying, digital responsibility, and media and digital literacy.
  • We also have a great article from our blog archive all about Keeping Children Safe Online.

 

 

We hope that the information in this article has given you some insight into not just digital safety and privacy, but where you and your school stand in ensuring children are safe online. As a school, your duty goes beyond keeping children safe in the world - meaning it is important parents also understand their role in online safety.

In the next part we will look into this from a pupil's perspective. It is important to realise that the vast majority of your pupils are digital natives - in terms of using the tech they get it. What needs to be addressed is whether they care about privacy and data protection, and if they need to be taught in the same way we need to.

 

Thank you for reading. We welcome thoughts on all the topics we discuss and would love to hear from you. Please comment below. 

Why should you hire a Digital Storyteller?

With digital storytelling still being a relatively new concept, you could be forgiven for being a little confused about what it is or how it could benefit your school and your pupils.

However, it has grown in significance as digital technologies have evolved at an incredible rate. Now, as social media impacts most facets of our lives, the ideals and desires of good digital storytelling are larger than ever. Hiring a Digital Storyteller (DS) is something to take under serious consideration.

 

What is Digital Storytelling?

giphy.gif

Digital Storytelling is a method of sharing stories or events using digital media production. It is the marrying up of traditional storytelling with modern technologies to create content including: videos, images, voice-overs, soundtracks and animations, among other things.

A DS is the person behind the stories - a digital Dickens if you like. They are the authors curating your stories - just without all those words on all that paper. Where once the pen might have been ‘mightier than the sword’, it is now the likes of computers, tablets, software and apps that will help you win the attention and engagement of your community.

This new technology has already been fully adopted by the majority of your pupils, and their parents. It is now so integrated it into their lives that many cannot do without it.

They make use of sites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Boomerang the way previous generations watched TV, read newspapers, listened to the radio. Instead of getting out of bed and brushing their teeth, people are now reaching for their phones first thing in the morning. It is routine for them.

We have been spoilt by the consumption options available to us. We no longer just want words on a page or screen. We are now used to GIFs, soundtracks, short form text and memes.

Digital Storytelling achieves so much more than words on a page. It is content that is impactful, interesting and engaging. And it begs to be shared.

Why Digital Storytelling?

Here’s a philosophical question for you. Is it brands that create stories or is it stories that create brands? Very much like the chicken and the egg there is no real clear answer. However, from a marketing standpoint, the general consensus is this: if you want to communicate effectively with your audience you should be doing it through storytelling.

As a species we have been telling and listening to stories since the Big Bang. As cavemen we drew on our cave walls. Languages have come, gone and even today continue to adapt. While the method of delivery evolves in parallel to tech advances, our love for storytelling remains a constant.

Storytelling allows a post or series of posts, which may otherwise become white noise, to STAND OUT to your audience. It does this by evoking an emotion, providing authenticity to your brand and creating 'relatability'.

Good storytelling will keep people coming back for more.

With this in mind, the question becomes how can a DS facilitate these outcomes to benefit you and your institution?

Relatability: Humanising the Bricks and Mortar

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As a school you find yourself well placed when looking to market to prospective parents. This is because most brands need to start their marketing journey by synthesising a brand and identity. They need to create a relatable personality.

With your school, all the personality and identity you could possibly need is already walking the corridors and eating lunch in your canteen.

YES - your pupils are the answer and focus of your digital storytelling content. They are the literal human facet and personality of your brand, and as such using #SchoolStories about them will go a long way in humanising the bricks and mortar of your school.

Suddenly your signage is not just another school emblem. Your motto has a face which prospective parents will use to picture their own kids attending your school. Through effective storytelling they will be able to envisage them playing for your sports teams, to see them laughing at lunch, studying with enraptured faces and becoming a part of your school’s culture.

Why a Digital Storyteller?

Digital Storytelling is proving to be an ever growing trend, with multiple benefits when used by your school and in an educational setting. It stands to reason that a dedicated DS can only be a good thing for your institution.

The person in question need not be an expert by any means, although for those interested, there are workshops dedicated to teaching the craft. The only prerequisite really is a little bit of tech savvy and knowing how to focus on the story without relying on bells and whistles.

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What is imperative in your DS is how they can express your school's brand. It is brand that you want to communicate to students and parents; both current and prospective.

Your school's brand is a direct representation of what your school stands for. It is that special element that makes your school unique. All schools say they are special and one-of-a-kind, but most struggle to adequately get this message out to their community.

A good DS will take this brand and curate the stories that best engage your pupils and their parents. And through these stories you will see the difference between a post that is passively read to one that is actively shared (and word of mouth is always your top marketing tool).

By having a designated member of staff in the DS role you will have a brand champion; someone who is the glue - keeping content, tone, pupils and staff on the same page. This will mean that no matter where the source of content comes from - whether it’s a Snapchat of the football team’s latest win or a Youtube upload of a science lesson experiment - it will always appear in your school’s house style.

Beyond Marketing: Digital Storytellers in the Classroom

You can't be everywhere at once!

You may be reading this and wondering why traditional storytelling methods do not suffice anymore when it comes to engaging with pupils. Why can a post not be drafted with some text and a nice image? The answer to this is simple. Your intended audience are digital natives and they expect more from their content.

From an educational standpoint, there are many reasons you may want to adopt Digital Storytelling in your classrooms.

How much more interesting and innovative would a lesson be if that complex math theory could be explained via a video on YouTube? Or how real that debate will seem when tweet responses are being broadcast in class in real-time, with some of your pupils even taking part and Tweeting themselves? These are the educational tools that a DS can help unlock in the classroom.

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With an increase in the availability of computers and tablets in schools, your school may want to take advantage of content delivered in lessons to pupil's personal devices (whether owned personally or provided by the school). By sharing content in this way, teachers can take advantage or the fact that students will likely prove to be more engrossed in tablet or phone devices than by focusing on white boards alone.

Further to this, there are notable benefits in allowing your pupils to be DS's themselves! Pupils are able to develop skills in a number of areas including: 

  • research
  • resource selection and synthesisation
  • script-writing
  • voice-overs
  • tech skills
  • collaboration
  • presentation
  • creative expression
  • communication.

 

The Future

As we consider what the future of school marketing - and marketing in general - will look like in the future, it is clear that nothing will stand still for long. As tech evolves so too does marketing remain in a state of flux. That is, and always has been, the nature of marketing. Newer, more innovative methods will be developed - and will likely need to be employed on platforms and on devices that do not even exist yet.

Again, school’s are extremely well placed in navigating these changes. Your student body will continue to be digital natives - each new generation already bringing with them the skills your teaching staff will need to adopt. In this, you will continue to see first-hand where your marketing focus should be next.