School District Spotlight: Williamsville Central School District
With almost 14,000 school districts in the United States and over 300 in Canada, there are so many that are doing great things on social media. Here at Box Clever Education, we know how much work goes into making your social media efforts a success, and we want to highlight some of the fun things that individual school districts are doing.
The next school district in our spotlight is the Williamsville Central School District, based in East Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. Williamsville CSD is comprised of 13 schools: 6 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 3 high schools. They have nearly 10,000 students and 1,500 employees, and are the largest school district in Erie County.
We spoke with their Social Media Web Specialist, Tracey Mancini, to get the inside information on how Williamsville Central School District finds success with social media.
Box Clever: What goals do you have for your social media?
Tracey Mancini: Our social media accounts are a vehicle for getting information out to our parents, students, and community. We have 13 schools in our district, and so we needed a way to funnel important information in a clear and concise way. Each of the schools have their own accounts for more specific information, so the district shares the general information that is common for all schools.
For the 2017/2018 school year, our Board of Education has set out a goal to “foster and enhance relationships while continuing to improve two-way communications with students, families, staff, and community stakeholders.” So I would say that sharing information on social media has been our way to reach this goal, and we have received great feedback from parents about how effective our communication techniques are.
BC: Which have been your most successful posts?
TM: Announcements about snow days! [Laughs]. It’s kind of a funny story. Williamsville had not had a snow day in 2 years prior to this past March 2017, so our superintendent gained a reputation of being anti-snow day. When he announced the first snow day in 2 years (followed by a second!) you can imagine the excitement from the students. He started out with 61 followers, but after the announcement of the second snow day, he had 595 followers.
BC: You have shared some really high quality video content. Can you tell us more about that?
TM: We are lucky to have a teacher that is really good at creating video content, and he enjoys doing it. He has made a few videos that have done really well on social media, with thousands of views and excellent engagement. The students love being involved!
(To see the video, click here.)
BC: Who is on site at each of the schools taking the photos for your social media account?
TM: The principals at each school will take the photos, and then I oversee everything for consistency. I do a large portion of the work though, because the principals and staff are busy with their other duties.
BC: Which tools do you use for posting to social media?
TM: I prefer to post natively to the platforms, especially with Facebook. I do use Tweetdeck on Twitter because it makes it easier to manage the 19 Twitter accounts that I run for the schools.
BC: 19 accounts! That is impressive.
BC: How do you gauge success for your efforts on social media?
TM: We analyze our general engagement, such as the number of likes, retweets, and video views. If people are interacting with our content, we deem it to be successful.
BC: Can you give us another example of how you use social media as a vehicle for communication?
TM: We had a situation last year where our phone lines went down for a short period of time. Having an established social media presence was critical during that time so that we could keep parents informed about the situation. We sent out an emergency alert SMS text, an email, and we posted to all of our social media channels to let parents know that the phones were out but that everything was okay. So there was no shortage of communication. We actually received a response from a parent that commended us on our ability to keep people thoroughly informed.
BC: Before we go, do you have any advice to give to other school districts that are on social media?
TM: Keep up with it, and keep it consistent. It is important to post at least once per day, because your audience is relying on it as a communication tool. Keep them informed and updated. And have fun with it!
BC: Thank you so much for talking with us today.