I’ve written about using social media in your overall school marketing campaign, but it deserves updating. Your school is a brand; you need to develop positive brand awareness among community and governmental grant contacts. You want to be the Band-Aid™ of the school market with a name so recognizable that it stands on its own with dignity and character. This effort will take time, and you need to employ every strategy to make it happen.
I assume your school has a first rate website. Don’t settle for just the node on your district’s main site that has a cookie cutter template for each school in the district. I mean a unique, individual site that establishes your brand beyond the district presence. Create the site with the approval of your school superintendent and district technology personnel. They may not let you “go rogue” and to have your own image. With careful planning and agreements about restricting content to district approved subjects, you should be able to launch a new site.
One way to establish and market your school is by using social media. There are many outlets to choose from; it seems there is a “social media site of the month” syndrome in place these days. The outlets are not just for tweeting and liking; they are free, incredibly effective tools for fine-tuning the marketing campaign for your brand. Their reach, especially Facebook and Twitter, is worldwide, but other sites are climbing the ladder to becoming recognizable.
I like Pinterest and LinkedIn. We’ll take them one at a time.
Pinterest is a social media site that lets you “pin” images and other media to subjects and areas of interest based on your preferences, like bookmarks. A simple search for grant writing revealed pins for “power words in grant writing”, “grant writing tips from foundations”, “grant writing myths and success tips” and more. Think of it as a virtual corkboard for media stickies you create that coordinate and consolidate all the fun stuff you’d like to know more about. It’s a bookmarking service and each bookmark is a pin. You can change your interest and your pins at will. You will get emails informing you of new pins in your area of interest. Your school can be its own pin, and over time as your name recognition increases, it will be a go-to place for people who want to know more about you. A pin for Washington Elementary School in Lancaster, PA leads to an article about fund raising efforts at that school. So much is accomplished with media these days, your phone is your podium (the camera) and pictures you take around your hallowed halls become great ads for a thriving school environment.
LinkedIn is your professional page. You might feature your school principal with a resume and information about professional interests and organizations to which he/she may belong. There are professional groups on LinkedIn, including one for grant writers, so you may want to set up your own LinkedIn page. Get thee to the hairdresser and have a great picture taken. You are part of your schools’ brand now and you want people to see you in a professional environment.
For grant writing purposes these sites work both ways, they are avenues for school promotion, but also places you can browse to see how the other half lives. It’s amazing to me how well behaved most online community members are. In my experience, you rarely see what you hear about, naked kids doing bad things. People now seem to understand that posting something is forever. I’d love to hear stories that support this statement; I get tired of hearing horror stories about ruined reputations from postings made in a careless moment.
Therefore, grant writers get ready; I have some resources for your consideration.
Social Media for Grant Writers – Foundation Center
Your School as a Brand
Enforcing and Enhancing Your School’s Brand
PD Hub for Your School
Using Twitter for Your School
List of Social Media Sites
Branding Your School District (Slideshare)
LinkedIn Grants Group
Let me know how you’re doing. You may network with me by leaving a comment below.