In this School Lunch and Social Media series, we’re going to walk you through the steps for setting up your School Nutrition program’s social media accounts.
In Part 1 of this series, we showed you how to tell if your School Lunch program should be on social media or not, as well as some preliminary steps you should take before creating any accounts. If you didn’t get a chance to see it yet, you can click here to check it out.
Now, in Part 2, let’s look at the different apps and see which one may be best for your School Lunch program to start with, based on your unique situation and goals.
Why just one? You don’t need to be everywhere all at once. It’s more important to do a good job on the channels you’re using. If you are on five separate social media apps, but you’re doing a poor job on each one, then what’s the point?
Here’s some background on the apps and some information that will help you determine which one to choose.
Facebook may be the most intuitive to use because it gives you flexibility and a range of ways to promote your School Nutrition program as you see fit. Parents are more likely to be found here than are students (although plenty of students still use it), so if parents are the main group you’re trying to reach, this is a great starting point.
You can post pictures, videos, and status updates (without any restrictive word-count limits). Plus you can set up a business page (different from a regular profile for an individual) where you can set controls that are helpful to organizations. For example, you can grant access to specific/multiple staff members and control who has permission to perform certain actions.
Twitter is [supposedly] a little “cooler” than Facebook, so you’ll find a higher student-to-parent ratio here. You can still post pictures and videos, but it’s less flexible than Facebook is.
Not only is there a word limit per post (which will take some getting used to for the uninitiated), but also Twitter sometimes can be a little more complicated to share images and videos from a technical standpoint because the platform is geared toward quick, written thoughts.
Still, if you want to send updates and fun, short messages to a good mix of students and parents, it may be worth taking on the learning curve.
Instagram is sort of the opposite of Twitter in that it’s more about the images than the words. You can still add captions, but for the most part this is a highly visual channel.
Like Twitter, there’s still a better mix of students and parents than there is on Facebook, but with the growing popularity of Snapchat (see below), the under-18 crowd seems to be moving away from this one a little bit.
Nevertheless, this is a great place to post pictures of your food, since that’s already a huge trend on Instagram — people take a shot of their meal, throw a filter on it (a filter is an easily added visual alteration of color, clarity, etc. to enhance the image) and share.
Just make sure your food quality is consistently high so that you have enough material to post regularly.
Also, a side note: You’ve likely heard of Pinterest and may sometimes get it confused with Instagram. Pinterest is a photo-sharing app, too, but it’s geared more toward browsing interesting professionally-shot photos and “pinning” them (collecting them, basically). You can upload your own photos to Pinterest, but not as easily as you can with Instagram, which is built specifically for taking your own pictures.
You probably already know that Youtube is all about videos. As you create and share videos, you can build themed “channels.” You may have a channel that’s all about breakfast, or a channel showing food prep, or a channel about anything, really.
The catch is that YouTube has a steeper learning curve than the other social media channels. It takes some time and know-how to produce a basic video that doesn’t come off looking cheesy or just plain bad.
On the other hand, once you learn how to do everything, you can easily record a video on your phone, tweak it, post it to YouTube, and then share it all over the place in other apps.
In the end, though, YouTube is more of a tool to use in conjunction with other social media channels than it is a channel unto itself. It’s great for enhancing, complimenting, and adding to your presence on other social media, but it may be a good idea to hold off on YouTube until you’re established elsewhere.
OK, now for the moment many of you have been waiting for: it’s time to talk Snapchat.
You’ve heard about it. Your students are all over it. You want to be on it.
Yes, there is an extraordinarily high student-to-parent ratio, with tons of students and very few parents. But even if you want to connect with your students, we advise caution when it comes to Snapchat.
How it works is that you send someone a photo and then the photo disappears after 10 seconds. (There are a ton of exceptions — like adding a “snap” (a photo) to your “story” (one-day timeline) so it stays visible for 24 hours, along with some other updates Snapchat has made just this year — but the gist of this medium is that the photos disappear.)
So the upside is that you will connect with your students. The downside — apart from concerns over privacy and the types of content you may receive back from students — is that the content you take the time to produce and post is more perishable than anything you have in the freezer right now. That means you’ll have to be on Snapchat constantly to monitor and post new material.
In the end, you have to decide for yourself if such a commitment is worth it just to get in front of your students, though the downside seems to outweigh anything your School Lunch program stands to gain from this app.
OK, full disclosure: this one is HSS’ own app built just for School Nutrition programs.
It connects securely with both parents and students: the students use the app and its Facebook-style news feed to “favorite” and rate meals with fun emojis and find out what’s coming up, while parents use it to check menus and receive updates directly from you in real time.
You can customize it with school colors/logos, post photos, and much more. Obviously we recommend it as your go-to medium, but it also is a good first channel to test the water with before you get into the general social media apps since its simple to use, flexible, and built specifically for School Lunch programs.
You can check it out for yourself right now: Click here to go to the EZSchoolLunch page.
There’s no shortage of new social media platforms popping up all the time. Some will lend themselves to your goals and some will not.
The key to remember is that if a new social media outlet is not yet established, you open your program up to a ton of risks, from security/privacy problems to simply wasting your time on an app that’s doomed to fail or has the wrong audience.
Meanwhile, other social media platforms are very established, but don’t really have much to do with your goals as a School Lunch program.
LinkedIn, for example, has been around for years and has built recognition and trust, but probably won’t help you market your School Nutrition program to parents or students since it’s more employment/business-focused.
Yes, you are running a type of business, but that’s not the sort of connection you should be looking to make with your “clients” (parents and students) on social media.
What type of connection should you be looking to make? We’ll tell you all about it next time, when we discuss what to post on your social media channel and explain the single most important concept behind social media marketing.
Click below to read Part 3 of our School Lunch and Social Media series, “What to Post,” to find out how to truly engage with your audience of parents and students.
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