Social media is a great tool to help build community during back-to-school time. It helps your group directly and immediately interact with parents, creating a “real time” relationship that feels accessible and personal. The trick to using Facebook and other social channels effectively is not to repeatedly blast parents with pleas to get involved but rather to showcase what’s wonderful about your community so they’ll want to be a part of it.

With social channels, your group can let parents know who you are, ask them for their opinions, show them the great work you do, offer them helpful information, and give them a sense that they belong.

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Here’s an action plan for the first weeks of school. These posts work best on Facebook, but modified versions can be posted on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. It all depends on where your parents “hang out.” (Also check out our “Social Media 101” article if you need help getting started.)

  1. Introduce yourself! Post a photo of the executive board on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to be silly! For instance, post a series of selfies. Ask people to Like the post and you’ll start generating engagement. Also, ask a question or encourage folks to share their own family photos. A good question: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

  2. Hand over the 411. Provide parents with links to information they’ll need throughout the year, including your group’s calendar of events, a copy of the bylaws, the meeting schedule, and the committee chair contact list. Whenever possible, take an image of the resource and post it with the link. Social channels are visual mediums and a photo is more likely to catch someone’s eye.

  3. Make the principal part of the team. Run a photo of the principal with contact information (get permission first!). If the principal is willing, throw in a few fun facts to make her more “real”: favorite food, favorite movie, and favorite time of year, for instance.

  4. Get momentum going for your back-to-school night. Announce your event a few weeks ahead of time with a post including the date, time, and place. Do you have a flyer? Take a screenshot and post it as a photo with the announcement. The screenshot will work well on Pinterest and Instagram, too.

  5. Show your school spirit! Post a photo of your school mascot, a group of students, or even the school building and grounds and ask people for input with a question like “What do you like most about our school?” Make sure to Like people’s comments, and try responding to them directly (“Great idea!” or “I’m with you!”).

  6. Publish reminders about important back-to-school information. Is there an open house before the first day of school? Any changes to drop-off procedures? Parents are getting this information from the school, but your group can help get the word out, too.

  7. Share an illustrated quote that sums up the spirit of your parent group. Select one that will inspire people to get involved. Check our free clip art gallery for some inspiring quotes; people love quotes and will share them with their own Facebook friends.

  8. Document the first day of school. Take a series of photos throughout the first day and create a photo album for Facebook. (Remember to get permission to use photos of children.)

  9. Post helpful resources for families on transitioning back to school or on parenting issues in general. This underscores the point that your group is a resource for parents.

  10. Post early thank-you notes. Say thanks to volunteers who have helped with school startup programs. Include photos if possible.

  11. Take a poll. Ask your community members to vote for their favorite PTO or PTA event. You can use a free poll or quiz app, or you can simply post a question on your Facebook page.

  12. Put a spotlight on the students! Is there a student council or student government at your school? Feature the student members in a Facebook post with a photo and a quick summary of their top three goals for the school year.

  13. Promote your first meeting. Get creative. Make up a riddle or give a hint about a door prize. Post a silly photo to catch people’s attention and ask them to come to the kickoff meeting. Highlight babysitting if it’s available!

  14. See whether your parents can play “Guess Who?” Ask a few teachers to pose with their backs to the camera. Post each photo and ask parents to guess who it is. Run a front-facing photo the next day to reveal the answer. Offer a small prize to those who guess correctly. (Be careful with prizes; you don’t want to overdo it, but a few here and there will help with engagement.)

  15. Ask for input. Give families a chance to feel invested by asking for help to name or rename something—perhaps the PTO newsletter or a family event. Offer a few choices of names and ask for a vote. Select the most popular choice.