For parent groups, nothing will ever beat an in-person connection for building community. But Facebook now comes close. With Facebook, groups can build involvement, keep parents in the loop, and promote their group. Here are five ways to do that.

1. Tell Your Story

Even at schools with lots of parent engagement, there will be many parents who just don’t know about your PTO. And all the newsletters and emails in the world can’t convey the excitement and spirit of your group like Facebook posts with photos and video.

• Capture moments at an event using your phone to take still photos or video and post directly to Facebook. No one’s expecting an Oscar-worthy film, so don’t worry about your video skills! The families who attended the event will love seeing themselves and their friends, while the parents who aren’t as familiar with your group will see how much fun it is.

The Brooker Creek Elementary PTA, for example, posted a series of photos and video to tell folks about a self-defense lesson that was presented after a PTA meeting.

• Provide a brief explanation about why the event mattered. Was it a fundraising event? Tell the folks how much was raised. Was it a family night? Tell parents what kids learned.

• Do an occasional “inside the group” post to introduce your community to board members and committee chairs. Have fun with it! Do a mini profile of each board member with a few silly facts about them. Hold a contest with an old school photo of one of your board members and give a prize to the community member who guesses the identity.

2. Get Personal

Facebook is one of the best tools to create a sense of a connected community.

• Make a point to regularly do shout-outs to parents. It helps to have a social calendar to keep track of what you’re posting. That way, you could work in a weekly “person of the week” post.

Grandview Hills Elementary PTA gave this deserving volunteer a big thank-you for working 60 hours during the book fair!

• If you’ve had an event, make sure to post a thank-you to your helpers on Facebook.

Bollman Bridge Elementary PTA used this photo to thank volunteers who served coffee to teachers.

• Tell parents about your fundraising achievements and how the money has been spent. They want to know how their contributions are making a difference.

• Use Facebook to do quick announcements. This one from Greenwood Hills Elementary PTA is especially cute:

• Share about the principal, teachers, and staff. Snap a photo of the principal having fun at an event. Feature photos of kids engaged in a special classroom project. Thank the front office staff for its ongoing support.

3. Be a Resource

PTOs can serve as a resource to parents on key issues, like bullying, Internet safety, and other social issues.

• Provide helpful information on current topics. Parents will see you as a group that can help them instead of one that is constantly asking for help (fundraising).

• Avoid controversial topics. The idea is to provide helpful information, not stir up debates on your page.

• Use reliable sources. It is sometimes difficult these days to know what is and isn’t reliable information. Before sharing a Facebook post, click the link to make sure it goes to a legitimate website. If there’s an article or a new study, and you’re not sure about it, run it by the principal before you post it.

4. Inspire

People love inspirational quotes! They are nice addition to your Facebook page as they not only provide shareable content but also help create a nice mix of content. We have lots of inspirational quotes on our site that you can post on your page.

5. Don’t Forget To Laugh

Think about what you are likely to share on Facebook with your friends. If you see a funny post, share it with your community. Go for universal themes, like parent exhaustion, PTO workloads, or the craziness of morning routines. Avoid expressing opinions on social views, and in particular, don’t joke about how people are raising their children.

Nuts and Bolts

1. Video Is King

When it comes to showcasing your events, there’s no better tool than video. Once it’s on your phone, you can directly upload to Facebook. If you want to add more pizazz, you can use a free tool like iMovie (for iPhones) to add music and cover slides. You’ll want to review your video before you post to make sure you’re following any school guidelines if children are in the video. You may also want to use an online storage option like Dropbox as a way to archive all your movies.

2. Post Photos or Images When Possible

We know it can be difficult to come up with a good visual for a post. We’d recommend you find an easy-to-use graphics tool like Canva to create simple images. These tools allow you to make a variety of images with different-sized text and fonts and lots of free graphics. If you need parent-group-focused images, head over to our Clip Art Gallery for free graphics. You can upload into an image tool and incorporate it into your graphics.

If your group set up its Facebook account as a Facebook page rather than a personal profile, you can use a series of photo options, including a slideshow feature that enables you to upload several photos and a video option in which Facebook takes several still photos and creates a mini movie.

3. Use the Events Feature

The Facebook Events option is a great way to promote an upcoming event. Once an event is created, you have a page to post relevant information and photos to keep interest up as your event date approaches.

4. Save Time With Scheduling Tools

If your account is set up as a page, you can use the Facebook post scheduler to set up several posts at one time. You also might test out scheduling products like Buffer or Hootsuite, both of which can be used for free if you register for the basic versions.

Originally published in 2016 and updated regularly.