37. Celebrate Your School with Social Media with Andrea Gribble

In this episode, Andrea Gribble, founder of #SocialSchool4EDU, utilizes social media to uplift and celebrate schools everywhere. Andrea and her team work alongside staff and teachers to showcase online the heart of each school, enabling parents and faculty to stay connected to the classroom.

About Andrea Gribble:

Andrea’s passion is helping schools recognize their daily awesomeness and sharing that story with the world. She’s built a team that celebrates hundreds of schools across the country! #SocialSchool4EDU provides full social media management, offers an intensive Social Media Bootcamp, and runs a vibrant online community that provides ongoing professional development for school social media champions.

Find Andrea Gribble:

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Show Transcript

Tara: Welcome to mindful school marketing. I’m Tara Claeys. 

Aubrey: And I’m Aubrey Bursch. Today we’re joined by Andrea Gribble. Andrea’s passion is helping schools recognize their daily awesomeness and sharing that story with the world. She’s built a team that celebrates hundreds of schools across the country. Social schools for EDU provides full social media management offers an intensive social media bootcamp and runs a vibrant online community that provides ongoing professional development for school, social media champions. Welcome Andrea! 

Andrea: So great to be here with you. Thank you so much. 

Tara: So glad to have you here and a fellow podcaster as well- so female podcaster, all great things. So thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and your story? 

Andrea: Yeah I’m an accidental, I guess entrepreneur. I was, I now can say I was blessed with a layoff back in 2013. But at the time it was not such a blessing. I was a single mom with two little girls and I was like, oh my gosh, what am I gonna do? I decided to start a business doing social media. And I was doing it for small businesses when I got a chance to work with my daughter’s school district, small school of 300 students, which I know you guys deal, especially Aubrey with a lot of small schools that needed help with social media. And I thought, awesome. Cause this is not like marketing. It’s just celebrating the everyday things that are happening. And I found out that not only did that school need help, but there was other schools that needed help too. And so I jumped in with a pilot program to do Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and then started working with some other schools across Wisconsin. Now we literally help schools around the world through a variety of our programs that Aubrey kind of talked about at the beginning, but I have a job that I absolutely love because school storytellers have the best, the passion, for education to really promote all the great things happening when there’s a lot of negativity out there. So let’s use social media for the good. So that’s a little background on me and then I am remarried. I’ve got six kids. And I’ve got about 30 people coming to my house this weekend for our annual Gribble Olympics. This is my calm before my storm of being trying to be hostess with the mostess, but excited to be here.

Tara: Wow. I don’t know if we wanna spend the whole podcast talking about the Gribble Olympics. That sounds pretty interesting too. Are you gonna be posting that on social media? 

Andrea: Oh, for sure. I pretty much married Clark Griswold. And so that is the kind of feel we have for this weekend and it’s gonna be awesome. Gonna be amazing. 

Aubrey: That sounds so much fun. I wanna start Olympics now for my house. That sounds so much fun. And I love that you, how you kind of frame social media as like positive storytelling. I think that’s, often I think people think of social media, they think well I have to post on social media. But you’re celebrating that it’s, it’s something that’s positive and you’re telling a really important story. So I appreciate that perspective. 

Andrea: Yeah. This is my kind of go to I’m holding up a mug for those of you not watching on the video, but celebrate your school one story at a time. We overcomplicate social media in some cases with strategy and all of this, which all comes into play a little bit, but bottom line, you have incredible things happening.

You’ve gotta get those stories out there because parents like me don’t get to see inside the classroom every day. So let’s give your community a glimpse in to what really is happening. And kids are doing great things. Our staff are doing great things. We just need to snap that picture or shoot that video and get it out there.

Aubrey: Thank you. I appreciate you reminding people about that, cuz it is really important. And I’d like to shift gears because why it’s important right now, a lot of our K through 12 independent schools have seen an increase in enrollment over the past two plus years. Yet their resources are staying the same. So when you’re talking about gathering the storytelling, like all that sort of things they’re juggling just so many things. Including social media. Like sometimes that gets added onto a plate afterwards. That’s always fun. And given this like limited time and energy available, what things related to social media, do you recommend schools prioritize heading into the fall?

Andrea: Well, I think looking into the fall and time is always a concern. But obviously your independent schools have a, maybe a good problem to have of having more students to, and more things to take care of. I think the biggest thing is look at what platforms you’re on and prioritize those. So social media, like every week, they’re coming out with a new platform and it’s like that shiny object oh my gosh, we have to be there and we have to be there. And I think the biggest thing that you can do is really look at where is your audience that you’re reaching the most people- focus the most time on that. And don’t worry about trying to be everywhere to everyone and then not doing a good job at any of it. Pick your platform and then get consistent and, by consistent, a daily post during the week. I don’t recommend a lot of posts on the weekend cuz they don’t get a lot of reach anyway, I know this is the mindful school marketing podcast. So we’re all about giving ourselves a break and building in some boundaries, which is really important. But it is important to be consistent and then focus on engagement. There are the algorithms at play and so we really need to look at, you know, social media’s a spot to get connection with new families, but it’s also a place to engage your current families. And especially if you’ve got new ones, you want to be able to engage them. So you think about engaging language of asking questions of really taking the time if somebody asks a question on a post that you’re answering that. And just with social media. Isn’t just about posting- it’s about the engagement that can happen afterwards to be that two way communication. So I think if our stressed out social media managers can focus on the platforms, the consistency, and then that engagement that will really help your social media efforts.

Tara: That’s great. I would love to talk to you about the, you mentioned parents and students, and I’d love to talk about trends that you’re seeing in social media, and also in terms of what channels parents and students using, and are they different? And do you post differently with the thought in mind of who your target is? Are you posting something that’s more parent focused on one channel and more student focused on like TikTok or something? How, what are you seeing there in terms of trends and behaviors? 

Andrea: Yeah a lot of trends. Obviously TikTok, Instagram reels is basically TikTok. It’s that short video that people are really consuming and it’s a way to expand your audience, but it’s also a chance to engage your current followers. And you have to remember. Yes. Instagram, I would say is a great spot to connect with students. Facebook is a great spot to connect with parents, but your parents are getting younger. So Instagram is also a spot to connect with parents as well, especially those young parents of your, pre-K kindergarten students. They’re big time, Instagram users. So I think I’ve seen schools 10 X their reach on Instagram by starting to use reels. Reels can be really intimidating, especially for a 44 year old mom like me. But once you get into it, you realize it’s a really fun tool. It’s a new way to tell stories. And again, we’ve seen a lot of engagement from students because they are seeing their school in a different light. So I’ve got some resources out on my website. We’ll make sure to link to that a lot of blogs there. So that’s really key. And you can drive interaction through Instagram stories, Instagram reels, and some of those things. And then you asked about, what channels they’re on and should we cater the content? Yes. You’re gonna reach more of your community, more of your families out there on, in, on Facebook. Instagram can be tricky. I’m actually gonna be starting a Instagram bootcamp just for schools, because it’s so different because you’ve got the feed, your posts, you’ve got stories, you’ve got highlights, you’ve got reels and that each one has its own play and how you use it. So I probably can’t dive into all of those specifics, but you should definitely pay attention and. There’s metrics on Facebook and Instagram that you can get really overwhelmed with, but look at the age ranges that you’re reaching pay attention to what’s driving engagement and what isn’t. Obviously we wanna do more of what engages folks. And I think, some of that short form video content, we always have good experiences with like staff highlights that you’re recognizing staff or students. Some of those things really end up driving engagement, driving new followers things like that. So does that help? 

Tara: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think it is super intimidating and I find with my social media posts, even the, even though it’s a business channel that I run the personal stories are the ones that get the most engagement. If I post a picture of my family or something like that, even if it’s not business related. So you’re developing a relationship really more than selling. Yes. Yeah, for sure. Thanks for sharing that. 

Aubrey: And I know you alluded to some of this in, when you were talking about like the faculty highlights and stuff like that. I’m curious, like what content and story ideas do you see have the biggest impact on social feeds? And then secondary question- how can schools collect more of this type of content, given the resources and stuff that they’re dealing with? 

Andrea: Sure. So, you know, The kind of content and stories that really drive a lot of engagement are like the emotional. The perseverance, the kids going above and beyond. So you have to be intentional to look for those stories as you’re leading into a new school year, you’re only one person. If you’re doing the marketing side or, social media side on a part-time basis, get with your staff and say, Hey, we’ve got incredible stories here. We just need to uncover those and share them. We had a great post because I did a challenge where I asked people, okay, you’re gonna share a perseverance story. So one, one school found this gal that was blind. And she was learning how to read music through braille. Really cool story, really cool student. It gives me goosebumps when I talk about it. Those and, and it doesn’t have to be long, okay, those stories might be three or four sentences, but that is a powerful story that. It shows your community, your followers, what kind of school environment that you have, the amazing students that you have. We had another story of a little girl who lost her arm in an accident and had a prosthetic. And she was only like in kindergarten. She was really nervous about wearing her prosthetic, which she named Ariel to school and through encouragement through her friends and her teacher she finally wore it to school. Oh my gosh. This one little picture. And it’s not a professional picture. Somebody just snapped it with their, cell phone. And they shared that out on their page. Oh my gosh. Reached thousands and thousands of people, those stories that touch the heart are going to get great engagement. So we have to be intentionally looking for those. Is every story- some of those stories might. A student helping another student tie their shoe, right? We’ve gotta capture those small moments of kindness, compassion, perseverance. And then we need to get that on our radar of our entire staff to get those out there. So that’s really important. And then there’s regular features that you can do. And if it’s summertime now, and you’re looking forward to this next year, staff highlights. Your new staff, if you I’m, I’m probably, you’ve probably got some new staff, new teachers, new support staff, new leaders, introduce those individually. Don’t do ’em, don’t do a big group picture because you can bet that first year teacher, she is gonna get her mom and her grandma and her aunt that are gonna be like, oh my gosh, look at Emily. She’s got her first job at this school, so you’re gonna get new followers. And then also just look at how you’re highlighting your students on a regular basis. And if you can build in some features, you might call those campaigns, but I just call ’em features cuz it’s that’s stuff that you can batch ahead of time and schedule out. So you’ve got, I said kind of consistency is key. Those things you can schedule out ahead of time. So now all of a sudden I already have four outta my five days of the week, you know, scheduled. Those are all things that drive a lot of comments, a lot of engagement, a lot of likes and loves. And your content’s gonna be seen by a lot of people.

Tara: I love that. That’s great advice. And I think since I make websites for schools, we reflect a similar thing. We see a trend in school websites where we’re telling stories on the homepage of the website where there is, a feature about a student or a faculty member, or even a parent telling their story, what they love about the school. So it. It mirrors that social media, which, we are, we talk about branding a lot with our guests and having a consistent message, a consistent tone, a consistent look across all of your platform, social media and website as well. I also have been seeing, we’ve been putting embedding Instagram feeds in website homepages for schools, sometimes Facebook, but Instagram just looks so nice and it makes it really for a school to have fresh content on their website without having to log in and do something on their website and they can get information from other people who are posting. So I wanted to ask for your thoughts on embedding social media posts into a website and also, what other social media strategies that you recommend for under-resourced schools, who might not have the time to be updating in many places. And don’t have the time for training. 

Andrea: Yeah. I think social media gives you that glimpse into the everyday happenings of a school. And I think it’s a great idea. If you can embed that on your website because your website is, I love that you’re incorporating the story of, a student or a staff member to really define some of that. But a lot of website stuff- those are the nuts and bolts of things that you have to have your calendar. Some of that, and yes, you can change out some beautiful images that are gonna be on your website as well. But as far as that daily storytelling, that’s gonna reach not only your web visitors, but people beyond just through the social media channels, I think it can be very effective because then you’re not like having to do multiple things like, oh, I gotta remember to put this on the website and on my Instagram page and on Facebook. It’s already gonna show up there. And so it’s that consistency of up being updated and, not only families seeing it, but staff seeing it like potential staff. And there’s an element about social media of even internal community and culture and knowing what other staff members are doing, because they’re seeing things out on social media. And then you asked about, what are some tricks there about you don’t have a, to a ton of time, what should you be focusing on? Celebrate the everyday learning. Okay, make sure that you’re celebrating that and get a system to crowdsource that content. So you are only one person. My system is with our schools we do social media management for 90 school districts across the country with my team of stay at home moms. And we create an email address and we ask staff, Hey, submit two things a month to this email address, you snap the picture. When it happens, you give me a sentence or two of what’s going on, right? What are these kids learning? What are they doing? And then you’re able to put that out on social media and schedule it. Not everything has to be posted the same day that it was done. But that’s really a key to making sure that you can be successful with limited time focus in on that everyday learning, giving people a peek at what’s actually happening and have that system of continuous content, because you may be the, a secretary or a media specialist or a teacher, or even a volunteer that isn’t at the school. That can be an easy way to, to get that content. 

Aubrey: Those are some great ideas. I do have a follow up question because I know this comes up a lot when I’m talking to schools, small schools, especially is that they’re like, yeah, our staff, we ask them to send stuff, but they’re not sending stuff. Do you have any ideas for incentivizing that or like staff training? Like what sort of things get, get those staff members? Cause they’re busy. Our educators are amazing. They’re doing so many things. They’ve got a million things on their plate. So how do we get that information from them. So I’d love to hear any ideas you have to share about that. 

Andrea: Yes. And we do face that. So number one, it’s all about building those relationships. And sometimes you have to grab the folks that, are gonna be the most willing to help you. Maybe those are some younger folks that are more accustomed to social media and taking pictures and, comfortable with that. But they’re just excited about what’s happening in their classroom. Build a few advocates that way. You can also talk to, principals, or if you have any kind of instructional coaches or people that are in different rooms, they may have a different lens or sometimes even an aid or volunteer that’s going into multiple classrooms, get them involved in snapping the picture. The other thing is. I always say an email to everyone is an email to no one. So if you email all your staff and be like help, if I need some more, pictures, nobody’s gonna answer. But if I send a picture to my tech ed teacher, or you’re sending your picture to your English teacher and be like, Hey I would really love to highlight your class or your students doing a special activity this week that you could snap and share. They nine times outta 10, if I send an email out, I’m gonna get a response, especially if you can give them a specific thing of, Hey, I really wanna capture, this, or are you doing this type of activity? The more specific you can be, the more they’ll be like, oh I can do that. Or if you even see an idea out there and can send him a picture and be like, Hey, I’d love to share something like this from your classroom. Could you just try to capture- they usually can. Again, they are prioritizing obviously teaching first but just making sure that we instill, Hey, I know you’re doing incredible things in your classroom and gosh, our parents love to see it. Can you just, at some point this week, sometimes even getting their kids involved, right? Have your student students ask your students what they’d like to highlight from your classroom and then submit that. So those are a few strategies that we’ve used.

Tara: Thanks. I’m gonna switch over to mindfulness now. So we talk about mindfulness on the podcast or we at least to mention it and get people’s thoughts on what mindfulness means to you and how you see it applying to school marketers as it relates to social media or other things. So how, tell us a little bit about what mindfulness means to you. 

Andrea: I think mindfulness is really taking the time to step back and listen and feel. And I am a doer and a lot of school educators and people that are in this type of roles are go, and, just driven to do the next thing and accomplish the next task. And sometimes we just need to be able to sit back and really reflect. And so to me that’s what that means. And when it comes to social media and mindfulness the biggest thing that I have learned since doing social media for schools every day since April 15th, 2014, is really trying to set up some boundaries because social media can just consume. It’s developing systems that you feel confident in, where you can set your phone aside and not worry. There are things that you can do to make sure you’re not gonna have things blow up in a really bad way. But being able to just have that separation, that’s why, like I said, I don’t post on the weekends because we don’t drive a lot of engagement. We deserve a break, the people we serve deserve a break. And so that’s the biggest piece of advice that I can give you. I used to wear my phone, like badge of honor, like I am important. I do social media for schools and I need to be ready at the drop of a hat because what if somebody says something? I can’t be on social media 24/7. Yes, sometimes something might happen, but I’ve got some things in place. And so I think that is really important because otherwise you’re gonna get burnt out. 

Aubrey: Thank you so much for sharing that. I really think that’s important, especially now for people to hear cuz people are already burnt out. So we just don’t want to burn them out more. So I appreciate you saying that and setting the boundaries and, putting the systems in place so that you can step away. That’s amazing. So thank you for sharing that. We’re gonna dive into some questions that we ask all of our guests, so I’m gonna kick it off. What are the most important things you do to grow personally and professionally?

Andrea: I love podcasts. So when I was first starting my business, I didn’t have money like and so podcasts are freeway to really learn and grow. So I love that. I love networking and then I love doing my own podcast. I have one called mastering social media for schools, and it just allows me just this allows you guys to learn and interact and it’s a way of networking. But I was having great conversations with these people and it. I should really record these and share ’em with more people because people are awesome. So those are some of the big things and, reading do doing some learning from others in a variety of other ways, but those are my top, top things.

Those are great. 

Tara: I love your passion and enthusiasm. It’s really fun chatting with you. Before we wrap up, we are gonna ask some rapid fire questions. So the first one is if you could put one book as the mandatory reading on a high school curriculum, what would it be? 

Andrea: I really love the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, but I don’t know if that should be in high schools necessarily. So I’m gonna say the more current version is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. 

Aubrey: A good one. What is one app you couldn’t live without? 

Andrea: Because I’m a social media manager. I’m gonna say Facebook Business Suite from my phone. It makes my life a lot easier, especially the invite button that where I can invite everybody who’s interacted. So that would be my app unfortunately be, or fortunately, because I’m a social media manager. 

Tara: Oh, my gosh, that thing drives me absolutely crazy. They keep changing the way it looks and it’s set up and to find things and to tell people where to find it. More power to you if that’s your favorite app.

Andrea: Well, it has to be my favorite app cause I help other people. So I always say when our group is complaining about how much it changes, it’s like, Hey, this is a little bit job security, cuz that’s our job to help people so 

Tara: Well, if you know how to use it, I’m sure you get relied on a lot for that expertise. So that’s great. What are you reading right now?

Andrea: I am reading The Power of One More by Ed Mylett. It’s a new, like happiness success book. And I, it’s a really good read.

Aubrey: I used to listen to his podcast. I didn’t know he had a book, so thank you. That’s my list. Good summer read. Thank you. Alright, last question. What is one great piece of advice you’d like to leave us with?

Andrea: I think just social media is to celebrate your school and social media, there’s a lot to get overwhelmed with and feel not enough or whatever. It’s get back to celebrating the great things that are happening. The world deserves and needs your positive stories. And you can give that gift to the world. We get to show our students that social media, isn’t always what not to do. And celebrate, celebrate shine, a light on the great things that are happening with your school. Great things can happen. I’ve seen it happen, with tons of schools across the country, so.

Tara: Oh, thank you. This has been so much fun. I wanna get together and have a cup of coffee with you. You’ve got a lot of great energy. Both of you two, I feel I like I’m fed for the day. Where can people find you online? 

Andrea: The best spot to go, where all of my resources are I’ve written about 500 articles on social media in schools. And my podcast is just my website. So socialschool4edu.com- you can follow me on Twitter @andreagribble as well. But that’d be the best place. 

Tara: Great. 

Aubrey: Thanks for so much joining for joining us. We had such a great conversation with you. 

Andrea: Yeah. Same thing. Thanks for having me byebye guys.

Tara: Bye. 

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