In thinking about how we connect with various constituencies, I can’t help but to think about every piece of content as a story. Content must be compelling and have a specific purpose in mind. As you read that last sentence, you probably found yourself subconsciously nodding and most certainly understanding the first statement as truth; however, the second statement may not have been quite so obvious. When posting on social media channels, it is easy to ask, “Is this content interesting?” What takes a little more time and effort is to have a greater strategy behind the content you are producing.
What is your intention? You must ask yourself what do you want each post to do. Is the greater purpose to get your alumni to donate, or to drive prospective families to visit campus? Are you sharing a fun piece of trivia about your school, or something unique that a student has recently done? Whether you are trying to get a big message out to your constituencies, or just capture a snapshot of something, you should always be able to articulate your intention.
Why is the approach important? If you view your participation in social media as sharing stories, I think it is easier to create meaningful content that people are interested in consuming.
Case Study: Walnut Hill School for the Arts and YouTube
Walnut Hill School for the Arts has 6 YouTube Channels. You might be asking yourself why would you ever want more than one YouTube Channel? Walnut Hill has 5 different majors, ballet, music, theater, visual art, and writing and publishing, and many students and alumni connect specifically with one major. We have built 5 artistic channels: Ballet, Music, Opera, Theater, and Visual Art and one general school channel called “Walnut Hill Arts.” There is a specific strategy behind each channel as different stories are compelling to different populations. The performing arts channels, Ballet, Music, Opera, and Theater, all feature performances. The Visual Art Channel features student created artwork and videos, which are the performances for Visual Artists. The Walnut Hill Arts Channel aims to give viewers an insight into life at Walnut Hill. While I can easily articulate the intention for each one of these channels, I do think that the approach to the videos shared on each channel could be revised. When the channels were originally conceived, the goal was to get our students seen and this usually meant each video consisting of a full performance. Few videos are crafted to tell a story. This really dawned on me as three Walnut Hill students have embarked on a journey to create “A View from the Hill.”
“A View from the Hill” is entirely student-conceived and created. Each video is an interview of a member of our community in an effort to bring outsiders an inside view of what Walnut Hill is all about. The videos are poignant, full of humor, genuine, and honest. The stories these students portray are most certainly purposeful. There is a reason why each subject is chosen and the student creators have intention behind each question and edit the footage to piece together a compelling story. I am grateful to learn from students and I think that it is important for us to realize that our students are probably most qualified in helping us tell these stories that already exist in front of us every day at our schools.