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One of the best ways to increase engagement (and getting more people to know your program exists) is by showcasing or featuring students on social media. People are drawn to photos of people–especially if they know them.
Students love to see themselves showcased and so do their parents, grandparents, and friends. Also, they are more likely to comment and share your posts so that others can see them. But, how do you go about showcasing your students? Not only that, how do you not spend your entire life focused on these posts?
Here are a few tips on how you can feature your students on social media without the overwhelm.
In this episode, Khristen discusses:
- Have Students Fill Out a Survey
- Take Student Photos and Edit Them All At Once
- Batch Content and Use a Scheduler to Post
- BONUS: Have Students Submit Videos for Stories
Have Students Fill Out a Survey
If I were to talk about my students individually, I feel like my report would be similar to that of one that I give a parent. Like those during parent-teacher-conferences or even a letter of reference. To be honest, it would be pretty lame and would consist of how they worked with others and whether or not they were grasping concepts learned in my class.
While that information is important to a parent during conferences or an admissions office, it would not highlight your students in a way that would engage current and future students. That audience wants to see is how they are similar to the student being featured. You want them to ask themselves, “Oh, I’m interested in being a lawyer someday, and so does Heather. She mentions how much she likes this class because of the collaboration she was able to do. I bet I would enjoy this class as well.”
How do you find out these bits of information? You give your students a survey to fill out that allows them to be relatable to other students. This can be done digitally or on paper, but I’ve found that digitally is easiest for you to store and repurpose for social media.
Here are some questions that you may want to ask your students:
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- List your hobbies.
- What was your favorite part of this class?
- What is something you learned from this class?
- Why did you decide to take __________ [class name]?
TIP: Some students don’t want to be featured on social media, so I ALWAYS ask if I can feature them as one of the questions.
Take Student Photos and Edit Them All At Once
Images of people always win over text when it comes to engagement on social media! At some point, you will need to collect photos of all of your students that you can use on your posts. To save time, you will want to take all of those photos at once. This will save you from needing to scramble to find or take a photo of a particular student for your post.
In the past, I have taken all of my students’ photos on the first or even the final day of class.
Sidenote: depending on the questions you asked in your survey, you may be featuring them after the class has ended so that you can get the best responses about the take-aways from your class.
Tips for Taking Student Photos
Plain backgrounds work the best for portrait-style photos and luck would have it that you already have this in your classroom. Drumroll please… your whiteboard or your projector screen. Whiteboards can be a little trickier as you can get a glare, but I’ve found that these two backgrounds work great.
Another option would be getting photos of students while they are working in a shop or lab. These would take longer to take more effort on your part, but they may also be able to be used in non-spotlight-type posts. If you are going to use this style, still make sure that the student being spotlighted is the clear focal-point and they are identifiable.
TIP: Because our students are on social media as consumers, they are very aware of how they look to others. Get approval from your students by showing them the photos you take right after you take them.
Editing Student Photos
Now that you have all your photos, editing them all at once will save you time. Take some time and figure out what edits or filters you would like to add, and then add them to all photos. Depending on your software availability, edit these on your computer or your phone.
Adobe Lightroom has a desktop version and a free mobile version. You can create your own presets or get free or paid ones online.
Another free, but simple to use mobile editor is Snapseed. I’ve used Snapseed to add in-app filters and also the “selective” tool to add brightness to my “projector screen” background.
After you have edited all your photos, make sure to save them to a central location so that you can find them easily when you need them.
Batch Content and Use a Scheduler to Post
Have you heard the term batching before? It is a productivity term that is used when talking about doing similar tasks all together so that the brain doesn’t have to toggle between them.
For example, meal planning for the week. If you were to plan all your meals for the week during one sitting you would then be able to create a grocery list easily and not forget any necessary ingredients. Also, because you have the meals planned–and written somewhere–you won’t need to spend time or energy each day making the decision of what to eat that night.
Batching can be applied to many aspects of our life–including lesson and unit planning for our classes. For today’s example, let’s talk about how to apply it to your social media so you “set it and forget it.”
How to Apply Batching to Your Student Spotlights
What you will need to do is to create all your student spotlight graphics and captions at once. You could dedicate a few of your prep periods solely for this purpose so that you stay on track.
Once you have those graphics and captions formatted, use a planning or scheduling program to automate the posts on social media. Facebook has a “creator studio” which can post to Facebook and Instagram. You can post instantly or you can schedule for a later date. This way you can schedule all your student spotlights at one time and not need to worry about it again.
BONUS: Have Students Submit Videos for Stories
Some of your followers will view their feed more, but a lot of them will view stories more. This is especially true for students. There are some accounts or schools that have been brave enough to let students take over stories and create a day-in-the-life series. I have yet to find a way to allow them to do this directly in the platform without giving them the login information.
An alternative to letting a student have full access to your account would be to ask students to create similar videos on their own devices and then submit the videos to you. You will need to upload the stories and may need to edit them as well. Any text, stickers, or GIFs will need to be added by you as you upload the videos. A great example of this is on the @distinguishedyw Instagram account. Check out the “Distn. Stories” highlight to see what they were able to with this type of feature.