Social Media

Livestreaming Our #MiddieRising Brand
By MARLON J. STYLES JR./School Administrator, March 2020

MOST SCHOOL LEADERS have attended an engaging Friday evening school event where they found themselves thinking, “Why didn’t more people come out for this?” I admit to harboring those feelings.

I have an answer for attracting greater interest, one of the new ways of leveraging social media to raise our engagement with families in the Middletown City School District in Ohio. I’ve discovered livestreaming a school district event can make all the difference.

Like most school communities, ours craves quality school and district communication. That means we must consider communication strategies that reach those portions of the community that usually are unable to be present for school-related events. Social media is one of our solutions.

Social media platforms with livestreaming capacity are a modern marvel and an effective way to better engage the entire community. I would encourage any leader to try it. Think creatively when exploring which school-based and district functions to livestream. Consider the type of functions that most interest the community. What events could best show the pride? The answers will help to decide where the district might leverage livestreaming. Using promotional posts on social media in advance of any scheduled livestream event will boost the viewership.

Adding Transparency
I’ve found livestreaming has several advantages. It can:

» Increase community engagement. We use Facebook Live to share the celebratory experience of convocation. In 2019, livestreaming this event ramped up our engagement with community members and stakeholders, resulting in 2,500 views and reaching 4,980 people.

» Expand your audience. With space limitations at our graduation ceremony, livestreaming allows us to include people who were unable to join or make it to town to see their graduates walk across the stage to receive their diploma in real time. Livestreaming graduation last year generated 7,800 views and reached 12,214 people.

» Transparency brings trust. Middie XL, the district’s innovation showcase, attracted more than 2,300 community members in the past year. Short Twitter and Facebook Live posts captured the featured innovations by students, as well as the positive interactions among students, staff and community. By broadcasting this event live, we were able to broaden our audience and strengthen the community’s trust in the #MiddieRising brand.

Sharing Narratives
A colleague once told me, if you don’t tell your story, then someone else will … and not in the manner you probably desire. Each day, through my social media presence, I model for others the importance of celebrating the positive things in our district. I am always seeking creative ways to increase access to the #MiddieRising experience for stakeholders.

Staying active daily on social media has pushed me to inspire a culture of transparency where inviting our community into the walls of our school is now the norm. The #MiddieRising social media rules are to have fun and stay positive. At convocation, we have a districtwide social media selfie moment. We pull out our phones and post selfies and short videos for our community to enjoy.

Empowering our students and school district staff to leverage Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share in the #MiddieRising narrative has resulted in amazing community feedback. Transparency builds trust, and trust strengthens a positive culture. We are committed to strengthening our positive culture and truly believe social media and livestreaming are helping. They are powerful platforms playing key roles in communication. We celebrate #MiddieRising every day.

Through modern social media practices, livestreaming in particular, Middletown City School District is now celebrating metrics that show thousands of Middies are experiencing the magical #MiddieRising moments throughout the school year.

As you consider the social media communication strategies being used in your district, how might you use livestreaming to tell your story? How will you empower others?

MARLON STYLES is superintendent in Middletown, Ohio. Twitter: @MCSDSuper