So you have a plan to unveil a school blog page for the start of this academic season. . .
Now your question might be: What is the best way to inform our families that it will be our primary communication portal?
Well, here are a number of strategies you could employ:
- Word of Mouth. Have a few contests where the kids login and answer some questions in the mornings. The info they need to answer can only come from the blog. Better yet, have them leave their answers on the blog as a comment and award a few winners each morning for a couple of weeks. This will wear off eventually so be careful with the carrot at the end of this stick. You want the reward to attract them to the blog and once there the information has to be rich in order for your visitors (parents and students) to want to come back.
- Get a digital club together and make sure the kids are talking the talk. Have them adorn the hallways with posters. Make sure there is a Digital Club blog to go with the school blog so that kids are attracted to the work of their counterparts. Make sure you are embedding Dig. Cit. into your days as someone will test the boundaries and make some faux pas. That is okay. It is all about the learning. Careful…don’t want to scare them away with punishment, on the contrary you want to attract them with learning.
- A Facebook and Twitter account with a brand page or school page helps and be sure to link both to your blog. Facebook will get your blog in parent circles the fastest.
- Decide on a strategy ahead of time for dealing with comments. Moderating comments maybe the best way to go in the interest of preserving everyone’s Digital Footprint. Better to have a moderated comment to talk with a student about rather than a public one. After a meaty discussion on Dig. Cit. allow the student to then make the decision about whether the comment need be public or edited. Interpretation learning is always so rich. When students and parents see their comments they are empowered to join the conversation.
- Use the school sign to advertise the blog address all year! Order a large banner from the school photographer if you don’t have access to a school sign. They offer these for free with your yearly contract.
- Send a newsletter until January and advertise the blog in every issue on the front. Let the community know the timelines.
- Give the Whys of the Blog: eco-friendly, fiscally responsible, up-to-the-minute, always available, more interactive, read/write, etc.
- Keep your posts up to date. The longer they are stagnant the more readers you lose. Keep your posts short and tidy.
- Don’t be afraid to move beyond information items and include some important stuff on the blog with decisions to be made. Increase the value of the visit.
- Add pictures to all of your posts. Make sure all consents are up to date and signed! Call parents when you are showcasing or naming a student. This double redundancy is so appreciated by parents and puts safety and courtesy first. Adding the Flickr widget is a great help especially when combined with the iPhone app!
- Add polls to some of your posts. Let the community vote on some items.
- Add video to some of your posts. Keep them short and to the point. (My first couple “From Mr. Cowper’s Desk” were dreadful! Too long and wordy.)–you need a safe YouTube channel to do this right.
- Allow students to contribute writing to the blog. This increases your word of mouth traffic.
- Enable the Post from Email function. This allows you to update from anywhere with no app required. Make sure parents can subscribe to the blog via email.
- Install the WordPress App on your iPhone. This way you can quickly and quietly fix spelling errors or delete posts.
- Put the blog address everywhere. Let the community know that this is where the stuff is and if they aren’t reading it they are missing out……not in these words of course…you get the point.
- Use tags! This will help your readers find the blog when they lose the address. They will lose the address. Make sure the blog has the school name in the address and make sure you tag with the school name each time.
- Change the phone message and have the message state the blog address for the most recent and up to date information and “goings-ons”
- Think Multimedia: video, pics and audio. Audioboo is another great little iPhone app that lets you add real-time conversations and audio from around the school with three clicks!
- Add a Clustr-Map widget to the blog to track visitors.
- Get the staff Blogging! The more familiar it is to all stakeholders the more it will “stake a hold!”
I hope these ideas help you increase your communication level with your school community. Enjoy the analytics that WordPress offers. This will help you track the most interesting posts and the times that your blog is used the most.
Happy school blogging in 2012-2013 everyone!
If you have other ways that you have increased the school blog use please comment!