This public school district can teach brands to embrace social media

There’s a new process and policy for managing social media risk that should be used as both encouragement and a model for brands everywhere. What’s remarkable is that Kristin Magette, the woman who pioneered the use of this process, has been able to achieve social media success in a sector that is fraught with danger: the public school system.

Callahan’s Social Media Director Ben Smith worked with Kristin from development to implementation and continues to provide support today, so we were excited to host this morning’s Social Media Club of Lawrence event. Kristin, who is the Director of Communications for the Eudora, Kan., public school district, presented highlights of her inspiring story (which is also chronicled in her new book Embracing Social Media: A Practical Guide to Manage Risk and Leverage Opportunity).There are all kinds of similarites in the work we do for clients, and a lot of great social media marketing takeaways for brands of all shapes and sizes.

Whether they are highly regulated or their corporate culture is just too risk averse, lots of companies and brands face the same hurdles that a public school district faces. “Risk management is the language of leaders,” Magette says, and it’s true. The three things that can mitigate these risks, however, are simple:

  1. Formal Policy
  2. Procedure
  3. Professional Development

It may seem like an arduous task, but having a formal road map for how you are going to interact as a brand is what keeps the risk at bay. This applies not just to the communications professionals who post on behalf of your brand every day, but also your employees. Your own employees are a great place to start when building advocacy, because they’re already on your side. Without policy and procedure, however, jumping into the world of social media may seem like an insurmountable challenge.

Let It Go

Exerting control over all of your brand’s social media content and company-wide responses feels more comfortable. But Kristin says learning to let it go (she used a slide from “Frozen” here, of course) is what makes social work. With clear guidelines and a carefully laid-out map for professional development, your employees and company advocates can turn into your best content curators. And as she later tweeted, this means “more engagement, more awesomeness!”

Responding Online

Social Media Policy Can Be Exciting

Media and marketing have changed drastically in the last decade and will continue to do so at a quickened pace. Brands can’t let the fear of engaging through social media stop them. Kudos to the Eudora district’s superintendent for being a forward-thinking person; their social media policy contains official language about employees’ “web-based communications on publicly available sites” such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr and YouTube, but it also contains this statement:

“These activities are encouraged to take place in a classroom or school office setting so long as such activities do not detract from the employees’ effectiveness or other job duties.”

Encouragement! This is huge, and it was a key point because many of the teachers and educators were finding that students were learning valuable skills through using online platforms such as blogs and social media networks. One perfect example Kristin mentioned was that composing social media posts is a great way to teach kids the skill of summarizaton. (My daily Twitter use ensures that I refine this skill every day — thanks to hashtags, @s, and pictures taking up more and more of those precious 140 characters!)

The bottom line is: Policy is exciting when it creates the opportunity for great things to happen.


Encouraging Professional Development

Seizing that opportunity is a lot easier when employees get the proper training and support. For the Eudora schools, social media allows efficient communication with parents and students, real-time feedback and collaboration from anywhere in the world, opportunities to teach kids responsible digital citizenship, and an online environment to engage and challenge students.

Staff who wish to maintain a social media profile to complement their jobs need only to fill out an online form to officially register, and there are tons of helpful, informative links sprinkled throughout the page. The district’s social media directory lists all of the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for everything from Parent-Teacher Organizations to kindergarten classrooms to high school student council.

According the the 2015 State of Marketing report, social media advertising, social media marketing, and social media engagement are the top three areas where marketers are spending their money and effort this year. Brands shouldn’t let fear get in the way of taking advantage of the biggest opportunities in the digital space.

In this video clip, Kristin talks about the real-time advantages and efficiencies of empowering multiple people to speak with one voice for the organization:

Here are the slides from Kristin’s presentation:


Photo credit: @hcaclinic


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