Recently I gave a talk at an edSocialMedia bootcamp where I said “I can assure you I work at the most conservative school in the room; the school most afraid of the change social media is creating.” A few people challenged me on that statement that day and a few more in the following weeks.

Since I write here obviously I’m into this “social media stuff” but I forget that some people still need convincing. That person may be your boss, or someone you work with. This post is for them.


I gave one piece of advice during my talk on how to pitch social media to your boss, in retrospect I should have expanded on that topic so here it is;


How to pitch social media to your boss – a dozen tips:

1. The groundswell – one of the most important books on the topic of social media. I gave copies to several members of the Xaverian Administration and said “if you read this book and think social media is a fad and not worth doing I will never bring it up again.” It helped my cause tremendously. The book is in paperback now and well worth the $10 investment.

2. Assure your boss you will start small and be conservative, after all slow and steady can win the race. Finalsite did a great story on the slow but steady approach with Rye Country Day School

3. It’s not that complicated – what I learned from the edsocialmedia bootcamp is that a handful of people armed with a flip video camera, laptops, and a few hours of time can produce interesting, thoughtful, marketable content. (Hope that doesn’t come off like an endorsement for the bootcamps – but I was really impressed.)

4. Promise to be consistent with your brand. Nothing will derail your efforts faster than inconsistent messaging.

5. “If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough” (read the blog here) Although that blog was written about searching for a job the title and content can be applied anywhere. This is currently my favorite saying. Remember the famous words of Ben Franklin “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

6. Present a plan for the negative. Someone is going to say something that makes you uncomfortable. Have a plan to deal with it. It is GOING TO HAPPEN. It’s not a matter of if but of when.

Jessica Krywosa of Suffolk University wrote a great post about her experience with negative comments, the blog and follow-up comments are all worth reading.

7. Use resources. Without question my favorite resource is Twitter; I am connected to so many intelligent independent school folks who love to share latest trends, issues, and best practices. My Twitter network is invaluable to me. Visit Brendan Schneider’s list of 101 people to follow on Twitter – they are all from independent schools and are all actively using social media.

8. Build support from within your school. Inspire a shared vision, this is really a function of leadership and being an agent of change. You can’t do it alone, plus you’ll want a partner in crime when #6 happens.

9. Share success stories from other schools; I will offer my school as a resource Also revisit the Rye Country Day School article. See what other schools are doing. I learned in graduate school what a CASE study really means: CASE = Copy And Steal Everything. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

10. Social Media is low-cost, all it will cost is time (but your time is valuable.)

11. Everyone else is doing it. As silly as this sounds it can be an effective argument, despite what your parents taught you. As an Admissions Director I am constantly monitoring the schools I compete with, I’d be foolish not to. Research your competition and show your boss that your competitors are using Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube to engage current and prospective students and families. The cost of not getting onboard with the social web is greater than the risk of potential negativity from engagement. You will be outpaced by your competitors who successfully inspire an army of marketers. Your customers (current families) have a voice – this voice gives them power. This can be your greatest asset or your ultimate undoing.

12. Express your passion – if you don’t care deeply about something how can you expect others to feel any sense of conviction? Tell your boss what you imagine and believe social media can do to advance your school brand and help enrollment, retention, and fundraising.

You know your boss best so the actual approach will be up to you; decide ahead of time if you do a formal or casual presentation, whether you bring action steps and examples to the pitch or wait for approval. The specifics are up to you, but consider this:
After four years of asking, my boss finally agreed to write a blog post two months ago. To date his is the most popular blog we have ever published, a fact he loves to recite when in the presence of other bloggers at school. Now he is constantly coming to me with blog ideas. He is a convert. Most importantly his blog was read by over 800 people, 400 of whom went directly from his blog to our website. If I can do it so can you!


What has worked for you?


Photo Credit: The Society Of The Spectacle

Tim McDonough

Tim McDonough

Senior Customer Success Manager at finalsite