11 ways to wow your social media audience
by Shanxi Omoniyi, Online Content Director, Midwest Parent Educators • July 24, 2020
Hate taking selfies? No worries—with time and practice, even the most camera-averse homeschool leader can become a social media veteran!
While many of us have a love-hate relationship with social media, it has streamlined the way we communicate with multitudes of people. Put that to work for your homeschool organization in the following ways:
1) Tailor your message to the things millennials care about. You need a compelling story, along with visuals, about stuff your audience can relate to. Everything about your social media accounts, from the photos to the text, should focus on the unique advantage of homeschooling (and one that millennials are passionate about): the power to provide the best education for every child, often with the added benefit of stronger families!
2) Research before you plan and schedule content. Pay attention to the kinds of questions you get on social media. At Midwest Parent Educators (MPE), we’ve found they’re often about starting homeschooling: How do I withdraw my child from public school in the middle of the school year? Where can I go in this area for homeschool discounts? Are there any local homeschool co-ops? What’s the typical curriculum or schedule for a homeschool family? Once you have a list of questions and content ideas, you can craft content that will be liked, commented on, and shared. (And all this engagement will help your social media accounts rank higher!)
3) Recognize the different attributes of each social media outlet. Your kids aren’t carbon copies of one another; neither are your social media platforms. They appeal to different audiences and convey content in different ways. For example, you can (and should) post several times a day on Twitter for maximum reach, but Facebook will probably penalize you for multiple posts a day if those posts receive few likes, comments, and shares. Experiment to find the happy balance for your organization. Watch what other accounts are posting on each outlet, then see whether you can adjust or tweak the best strategies for your own posts.
4) Think in terms of video and audio. If your organization isn’t on YouTube, you might want to think again. You don’t need to upload a new video every week or even every month; you may be surprised at the number of views any video will receive organically if you leave it there long enough! Live chats on Facebook and Instagram also make excellent videos and snapshots that generate a lot of organic engagement, which helps if you don’t have a big budget for social media advertising. (While there are times when it’s appropriate for your visuals to be pricey or professional, this isn’t always the case—especially with the advent of smartphones.)
5) Communicate wherever they are. Most of MPE’s social media audience is on Facebook, and we use a number of strategies to capitalize on this:
- Post to our Facebook Page and local Facebook homeschool and parenting groups.
- Create Facebook events at least six months ahead or longer to gain momentum.
- Use Facebook Messenger to communicate quickly through our Page.
Facebook Groups also generates engagement within a smaller, handpicked community, which gets higher engagement rates than our public Page.
We also send email newsletters, and we post to Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. To help cut the huge time commitment it takes to answer questions on all these platforms, we write Q&A blog posts and quick-answer templates that we can copy and paste to Facebook private messages, texts, and tweets.
6) Once you’ve generated content consistently for one to three months, analyze the results. Sometimes it can be so easy getting onto a content production treadmill that we forget to measure what content performs best! Set aside even a few minutes each month to review which posts got the most engagement, then refresh your content schedule accordingly. All social media accounts come with their own free analytics, so it’s easy to see your winners in terms of most likes, shares, comments, and clicks. Some of MPE’s top-performing content includes memes, stories, pictures of our volunteers, event photo albums, and parenting articles. (And we’ve experimented with many flops to find our top performers!)
7) Collect third-party testimonials. Treat every social media recommendation and kind email to your organization as gold! Then, emblazon these messages all over your website and include them in your regular social media content strategy. This will also help to (see next bullet) . . .
8) Use FOMO (fear of missing out) to your advantage! Remind people of registration deadlines and what they’ll miss if they don’t come to your conference or event. (Deadlines can generate a huge amount of social media engagement in a few minutes!) Use recommendations and testimonials to bolster people’s anticipation if they’ve never attended the event before.
9) Laugh at yourselves. Let your audience know your sense of humor. Self-deprecating humor is usually safest! For example, we can always poke fun at homeschooling’s unique challenges—as MPE did on our Facebook Page with these entertaining takes on grades and school uniforms.
10) Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. If you need to tackle trolls on social media, proceed with caution and legal counsel. Try to direct all public complaints into private, offline conversations. Here is an excellent social media template to use for doing this: We understand you’re feeling [EMOTION] about [TOPIC]. Can you contact us as soon as possible so we can help resolve this? Here’s a good phone number/email address to reach us: [CONTACT INFO]. Which brings me to my next point . . .
11) Cultivate your HSLDA ties! All of us at MPE are grateful for HSLDA’s service to make homeschooling possible. We promote HSLDA membership (and offer a group discount) to our community at every opportunity. Whenever we run into a sticky social media situation—and it does happen!—we ask our HSLDA liaison for advice.
A tool for connecting
In closing, try not to dismiss social media as the latest craze in self-obsession. It’s not just about what people ate for dinner or where they went on vacation (though if you want to share content about meals that real homeschooling families cook or places where they travel, feel free to experiment). It’s about sharing meaningful experiences with people who love your organization, connect with your mission, and want to support you and their fellow homeschoolers in any way they can.
Shanxi Omoniyi is the online content director for Midwest Parent Educators (MPE), a homeschool support organization in Kansas City. A homeschool graduate, Shanxi earned degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. She is excited (and humbled!) to continue homeschooling with her own children. Her company, Wordspire Media, helps businesses and organizations share their stories through content marketing, social media management, and email marketing.