Behind Three of Our School’s Most Popular Facebook Posts

Social media mavens and storytelling masters such as Brendan Schneider and Chuck Will have been telling us and showing us for a while—when it comes to storytelling at your school, it’s often not the grand plan or best intention that makes the headlines, but the small moment or serendipitous coincidence that often seems to be the most notable. I was recently reminded of this adage when I recently looked at Windward School’s social and web analytics and noticed how certain Facebook posts were engaging users in terms of reaches, clicks, and shares.


Three of our top posts this year were taken with a smartphone, were pretty grainy, and took something like, oh, three seconds of planning (The numbers below may or may not be high depending on your Facebook page, but they’re good for us at this point).

Here are the stories behind them:

1. Prince, we are so proud of you!windward-prince-mumba-tv

Windward’s assistant track and field coach, Prince Mumba, proudly competed for his home nation of Zambia in the 2012 Olympic Games in London this past summer. Prince, a runner in the Men’s 800m., was featured in television and web coverage along with many Windward students who spoke glowingly of their coach and friend.

But what really blew the lid off this story for us was a Facebook post: I was at home watching the opening ceremonies to see if they would show Prince in his delegation. Imagine my surprise when Prince appeared on the screen carrying the flag for Zambia! I paused the TV and took a quick picture with my iPhone.


Our Director of PR, James Lubin, was also watching and texted me a better screen capture, which I posted to Facebook with the phrase: “Prince, we are so proud of you!”


Our enthusiastic community did the rest.


The numbers: Reach 1672, Engaged Users 399, Talking About This (liked, commented, shared) 138.

2. Look! Overhead! It’s a . . . Space Shuttle!windward-space-shuttle-phone-photo

The Space Shuttle Endeavor made a final, glorious, daytime flyover across the skies of Southern California before landing at LAX. I was in a meeting all morning, and had forgotten about the flyover, until I stepped out and saw the shuttle just disappearing above the school. Ugh, bummer—I had missed it!


As I happened to stroll into the library, I saw a group of boys huddled, looking intently at one of the smartphones. As I wandered over, I noticed that the one student had taken a great shot, so I asked him to email it to me. Facebook fame is coming your way, young man!


I posted it immediately (and gave him credit, of course), and our community shared the heck out of it.

Sidenote: This little photo nugget reminded me that getting students involved is always a good idea. I’ve toyed with the idea of a student smartphone club, which would wander the campus snapping and posting (they do the snapping; I do the posting). Anyone tried this?


The numbers: Reach 524, Engaged Users 165, Talking About This 48.

3. Girls Volleyball Video Mayhem! windward-gbv-win-screencap

As our girls varsity team was on its way to winning a huge semi-final playoff game in front of a raucous home crowd, I thought it might be a good idea to get out my phone (still an ancient iPhone 3GS at that point).


I happened to capture the final match point, including our student body streaming onto the gym floor in celebration. According to the previous numbers, do you think the team liked it and shared the shaky, hand-held video once it was posted to Facebook that night?

View the short video.


The numbers: Reach 1044, Engaged Users 225, Talking About This 51.

The big picture

So put down the big Nikon, open your eyes, and be ready. And keep your phone charged.


Any moments of serendipity that you’ve captured at your schools? Share them in the comments below.

Stephen Johnson

Communication Strategist and Consultant

Stephen Johnson has been involved in education as a teacher, writer, and communications professional for over twenty years. He is currently a communication strategist and consultant for schools, small businesses, and non-profits; and since 2009 he has worked with some of his favorite people ever at edSocialMedia, where he currently runs boot camps and consults.