To help state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) use social media platforms more effectively, the Reform Support Network of the U.S. Department of Education has begun offering Social Media Tip Sheets. The first, focusing on Innovative Engagement, came out in June. The tip sheet described four key innovations, giving examples of each.
- Utilizing the Voice of Chiefs. Since taking over four years ago, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has amassed more than 9,000 followers on Twitter. She tweets, on average, at least six or seven times per day as part of her social media outreach strategy.
- Trying New Platforms. Georgia, among other states, is experimenting with posting materials for teachers on Pinterest. The Georgia Department of Education’s Pinterest page features 24 boards with different topic areas.
- Engaging Directly with Non-Traditional Media. Ohio has engaged with and monitored bloggers who write about education in the state.
- Keeping It Social—and Fun. Several states are working to find ways to be compelling and even humorous (but still informative) on social media, realizing that social media attracts the most interest when it is compelling.
To learn more, read the full tip sheet.
The tip sheets built on findings from a Reform Support Network survey that found 80% of SEAs and LEAs said they use or plan to use the three dominant social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube—and 79% said they thought their efforts on social media were succeeding. Key findings from that survey, titled “Measurable Success, Growing Adoption, Vast Potential: Social Media Use Among State and Local Education Agencies,” include the following:
- While adoption of the leading social media platforms is strong, skepticism remains about additional or unproven platforms.
- LEAs use social media more expansively than SEAs.
- About half of agencies have formal policies in place for social media usage, and an equal number use metrics to track success.
- Parents, local educators, and the media were key audiences for LEAs and SEAs using social media.
- Staffing, concerns about negative postings by the public or critics, and lack of training and resources are key challenges for social media implementation.
For further information, read the survey report.