Want to make a great first impression at back-to-school time? Use Facebook and other social channels to promote your group, engage families, and build parent involvement.

Before you get started, find out where your community participates on social media. You may discover that most parents are on Facebook but just a few are using Twitter and other channels like Instagram.

Whatever channel you decide to use, besides posting event updates, try using it to engage your community by highlighting all the positive efforts you make. Encourage parents to chime in on the comments.

Designate someone as the account administrator. Limit administration privileges to one or two people for each channel to keep things simple. Administrators set up the page, add photos, post information, and monitor and delete comments as needed.

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We recommend sharing your plans with the principal to convey what you want to do with social media. While technically speaking you don’t need the principal’s permission if you are an independent group, most principals will appreciate a heads-up.

Finally, whatever social channel you use, remember that you are posting on behalf of your parent group, not as yourself. Have fun, but keep it clean and professional. A joke you’d put on your personal feed may not belong on the PTO’s page, for example.

7 Ideas for Back-to-School Social Posts

1. Introduce your group by posting a group photo of your board—and have fun with it! For example, do a contest for best caption by asking folks to post their idea in the comments section. (This also builds engagement!) Or, try a quick video of the board in a casual, relaxed setting with each person introducing himself or herself. (Outside, maybe?) To up the fun factor, use our “You Belong Here” selfie prop!

Tech tip: If you do a video, use your phone to film it and post it directly to your group’s page. Facebook favors video posts that are directly uploaded, so they’ll show up in more news feeds.

2. Keep parents informed with school updates as the start date approaches. When the bus routes and lunch menus are published, post them on your group’s page. Yes, the school is also publishing them, but parents can miss notices from the school. They’ll start thinking of your group as a key resource.

Tech tip: Be visual. If you have a copy of the lunch menu, take a screen shot and upload it as an image to your post. One idea: Enlarge the day’s lunch menu so it is easy to read and post it early each morning. Parents will love seeing it.

3. Remind folks how awesome your group is! One key way to build involvement is to show people how fun and successful your group is. People want to be part of something exciting! Round up some of your best photos from last year’s events and post them either as individual shots or as a photo album.

Tech tip: Try a free graphics tool like Canva or PicMonkey to give your photos a little extra pizzazz. You can upload photos to these apps and add backgrounds and text to make them more eye-catching. You can even use the text function to tell a little story that folks can read as they scroll through the photos.

4. Help calm before-school jitters. Ask the principal for permission to post photos and videos of the inside of the school. This will be especially helpful to new students and parents. For example, a short video in the cafeteria narrated with tips, such as “here’s where you get in line to pay for your food,” will help students visualize and better understand their new routines.

Tech tip: Sometimes, narrating and filming at the same time can be difficult. If you’re uncomfortable, you can film first and then add print captions with a tool like iMovie.

5. Post key information about your group. Get the word out about meeting dates, holidays and events. And don't forget to thank volunteers after a big event!

Tech tip: Use our Facebook graphics to promote events. You can grab them here and upload to Facebook and other social channels, as well.

6. Start recruiting volunteers. Reach out to parents and ask them how they’d like to help. (Once you get responses, immediately follow up!) Post copies of fun volunteer recruitment flyers about empty shoes and let parents know you’ll be sending them home to fill out. Keep it fun, and don’t get gloomy about not having enough volunteers.

Tech tip: Ask folks to share the post on their own Facebook page or tag their friends in the comments section of your post to help spread the word.

7. Be a resource. Post helpful parenting tips along with information about your local community. Sprinkle in some inspirational posts or ones that foster community spirit, like this post advocating kindness. Don’t be afraid to add some humorous parenting posts, too. Just avoid straying into political or clearly controversial territory.

Tech tip: Use a sharable document system like Google Drive to post links and ideas for parent resources. You can invite your board to add items to it, too.