Social engagement done the RIGHT way

When Angela Maiers, teacher, author, and consultant, asked the question, "How often do you hear stories about social media going very wrong?" a majority of the audience raised their hands. Because of this basic narrative, framed by people who do not "live" in social media, board members and school systems are hesitant on social media because they do not want to get it wrong.

According to Maiers, connecting in "the right way" means making social engagement rather than social media the foundation of your strategy and success. A framework for this success is the acronym R.I.G.H.T, representing Real, Integrating, Generous, Honor, and Telling Your Story.

Real - Likening social media to a community barbeque, Maiers pointed out that it's not acceptable for someone to continually come to the table with a fake name and a Halloween mask, and without a dish to contribute. By the same token, "hiding" on social media is unacceptable to those you trying to connect with. "There's a real, live community waiting every week to connect with you," Maiers said. Connections cannot be made through technology; they have to be made through people. 

Integrating - Maiers said, "Whatever you do, there's an app for that." Citing the difference using film in a camera and having all your photos developed, versus using a digital, editing yourself, and printing only the best photos, Maiers noted that most people embrace any method that is faster, cheaper, and more efficient. The same is true for communicating with your community by using the right message on the right channel by finding out what tools your community can easily access.

Generous - Once again using the barbeque analogy, you cannot arrive at the table without bringing something that you really want to share. Maiers advised this rule never be broken: Always give before you get, and give with compassion and generosity. Online this translates to being "bursting to share something because you believe someone else will benefit" from a blog, article, photo, or video. When sharing is practiced honestly, our community learns to trust what we have to say. We should be modeling this for students, teaching them to be generous members of their communities.

Honor - We need to honor what our students are doing by sharing it. Maiers said, "When we shine the light on the brilliance of our kids, schools, leaders, and community, guess what stories the community starts to believe?" This habit of honoring by "sharing the awesomeness" quickly becomes a habit in our school communities, one which our students pick up on.

Tell your story - Maiers believes you are a brand and your story is your brand. If a Google or Twitter search is not turning up the story you feel should be told, then "grab the mike and tell the story." The average parent has 100 connections on social media, and one negative post can spread, doing a lot of damage to your brand. Conversely, continuous sharing in an honest and generous way produces the story that needs to be told.

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