Host Carole Dorn-Bell speaks with Tate Skinner, secretary of the Ohio Small & Rural Collaborative (OSRC), about live streaming and social media. Tate is also the assistant principal at Minford High School, which uses live streaming and social media to provide access for students and families.

Carole talks about how nervous people were about social media a decade ago, but how now social media is incredibly important for schools today. She says that live streaming and social media in the last several years especially have really caught fire.

“Social media has taken off so much that it’s really obvious when a school doesn’t do it,” Tate agrees. “As an observer from the outside of other schools, if I go to a school’s social media, sometimes I wonder why they even have it if their most recent post is from two weeks ago.”

Tate says he tries to think about his social media as an observer from the outside who is trying to find out what’s going on. He says social media is Minford’s opportunity to get to their community members in their living rooms or wherever they might be.

“We live streamed graduation, and it was watched in twelve different states and three different countries,” Tate says.

Carole agrees that he’s spot on that it’s incredibly noticeable when a district isn’t utilizing social media effectively.

“I think the worst thing that a district can do is to set up an account and not use it or hardly use it,” Carole says.

Tate says that websites used to be the way for schools to communicate with their communities, but now tools like live streaming and social media are the best ways to communicate with community members.

“People don’t want to go retrieve the information, they want it pushed toward them so that when they open their timeline on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, they scroll and see the information they want,” Tate explains.

“If you’re not on social media sharing it, I just wonder how many people are getting your message,” Tate says.

The two discuss how live streaming and social media have been great ways for school districts to connect with their communities.

Tate has live streamed high school announcements, and he likes to think of it as almost nightly news. He live streams attendance contests and other events that benefit from transparency.

He says that live streaming serves two purposes for his school: to get the event or information out there to people who can’t be physically present as well offering as an instant upload of the video, which cuts down on work.

Carole especially likes live streaming because it encourages brevity and offers the ability for schools to quickly deliver the message.

Tate says parents love live streaming because they can actually watch events, drawings and other announcements that they typically wouldn’t be able to attend.

The two discuss what makes an effective social media post, and Tate says it’s a tie for first place between student achievements and general announcements.

He says that their annual welcome back videos featuring notable graduates tend to perform very well. Anything that brings good attention to the school and makes the students feel good works.

Live streaming and social media have helped improve school spirit as well.

Carole brings up that it’s important to keep the school system’s branding in mind in each and every post and to maintain a consistent voice.

Tate says that he likes to use photos and videos with short bits of text to keep things short and sweet. He utilizes Google Slides to create quick posts to get users’ attention.

“We are in a visual world, and I prize brevity,” Carole says.

The two discuss the ups and downs of using tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts and point out that it’s good to keep scheduled posts to a minimum to keep the authenticity of the social media communication.

Tate suggests that every school utilize social media, but warns that once you set up your accounts, you need to consistently update them. The benefits of social media far outweigh any potential negativity.

Follow Tate to get a better understanding of how he utilizes Twitter to connect with his community. @TateSkinnerMHS

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