Photo of Josephine M. TorresThis is a guest blog post by Josephine M. Torres, Communication Specialist at Lyford Consolidated Independent School District (TX).

The first time I heard the term “millennial” was during a conference where I had the opportunity to attend a session on dealing with the use of social media in schools. Halfway through the session I began to realize, I am a millennial, it should be easy for me to relate to our parents. What am I doing wrong? Why isn’t social media a critical component to our district’s communication plan yet? As I continued to listen to key points and tips about how to relate to the millennials, I compiled 4 reasons why it was important for me to make social media a vital part of my district’s community engagement strategy:

#1: Social media has become a part of everyday life

Most people have already included it in their daily routines. It’s the last thing they see when they close their eyes at night it’s the first thing they see when they wake up. When looking at the analytics and insights of our district’s social media pages, the highest traffic times are around 7:15 AM and 10:50 PM. And these are very common times for our audience to either be waking up or going to bed. The majority of our audience are parents, so checking social media early in the morning and late at night makes sense, they want to make sure they didn’t miss any announcements.

#2: Social media enables us to have a larger reach during emergencies

In south Texas we rarely have school cancelled because of weather. However, there are other emergency situations that have occurred in the past two years since I started my career in education public relations. I’ve unfortunately had to communicate about a campus lockdown due to local prison riot with possible escapees, and a student’s death the week of a big football game. Being able to post on our social media sites and provide parents with information and updates about what is happening on campus is the fastest way to keep everyone informed. Parents are more likely to check our Facebook pages frequently throughout the day versus checking our website multiple times a day to read the latest headline.

#3: Social media provides us with immediate access to parents

Often times when parents change phone numbers and addresses, they forget to update their information in our school directory. I know this first hand because I send out save-the-dates regarding upcoming events, Christmas cards, and registration reminders. I get a lot of responses that validate I have the wrong information. Social media sites are the one constant source for keeping our parents up-to-date.

#4: Social media saves us money

Before I started working in the communications department for Lyford CISD, I worked for a non-profit that supported paperless communications. When I started at Lyford CISD, over 1,000 flyers were printed every time we had an event. I really disliked how much paper was wasted because I knew parents often times threw away those flyers. Now, all important announcements are sent out to parents via social media and it’s more cost effective. This year we started purchasing Facebook advertising spots which are still more cost effective than printing thousands of flyers.

Josephine M. Torres is the Communications Specialist at Lyford CISD. She takes care of all media relations and public communication for the district, which also happens to be her alma mater. She has worked for two years in public education, leading efforts in parental engagement and improving online communications.

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