8 tips for using social media in education
Social media has revolutionized the way we connect and communicate with each other. And not just in our personal lives, either. Teachers and administrators have realized the potential of using social media in education.
These days, the best educators are embracing social media’s role in the classroom. But if you feel overwhelmed by the possibilities, you’re in the right place.
This article touches on the many advantages of using social media in education. Keep reading for our top tips, including lesson ideas you can steal and a list of tools that can make your life a little easier — or just get straight to the tips!
Download a free bundle of social media tools designed specifically for universities and colleges — including post ideas, a social policy template, a social media strategy template, and alumni reachout templates.Download now
How does social media influence education? The biggest advantage is engagement. And, as any teacher knows, engagement is key to student success.
It’s actually pretty simple. When students get involved in their learning, they learn better.
Social media can:
- Connect students with resources from experts around the world
- Facilitate communication and collaboration between classmates
- Provide a platform for sharing information and ideas
Social media is famously great for capturing attention. If you’ve ever found yourself checking Instagram for the third time in ten minutes, you know this is true. And the expanding social commerce space means the impact of social media will only continue to grow.
But integrating social media can help bring your material to life. And, you’ll often find resources that help to illustrate your lessons.
Take the r/explainlikeimfive subreddit, for example. Users share complex ideas and the Reddit community breaks them down. In the example below, a “full class of 11th graders” got a simplified lesson in biology.
Plus, most social networking sites and resources are free! This is especially great if you’re an educator with a tight budget for materials.
It’s not just great for students, either. Social media can help build relationships between teachers and students. And for educators, social media can be a valuable professional development tool.
Inviting, rather than resisting, social media into your classroom can have huge benefits. Use it to promote collaboration, share resources and ideas, and provide real-time feedback.
Here’s an in-depth look at what social media can look like in higher education.
Social media has endless opportunities for educators. As a tool, it can help students improve digital literacy and critical thinking skills. It can also help promote your class, your institution, and yourself.
Here are eight essential tips for using social media in education:
No matter what your role or classroom requires, you’ll need to start with a social strategy. Our social media strategy breakdown is a great place to start.
Any good strategy begins with smart social media marketing goals — just don’t try to cover too many bases at once. Here are a few sample goals to help you get started:
- Increase brand awareness
- Manage brand reputation
- Increase traffic to your website
- Improve community engagement
- Generate leads
- Gain market insights with social listening
An educator trying to land their next role may start by building brand awareness. University social media strategists may want to manage brand reputation or increase traffic.
Once your strategy is up and running, it’s time to do a little reflection. For example, if you want to increase enrolment, you may want to create a campaign to attract new students.
Consider running a campaign to raise awareness of your program a few weeks before it starts. In your campaign, you could:
- Use scarcity and urgency techniques (“50% sold out already!”)
- Offer a discounted rate for early bird sign-ups
- Tease the benefits students will get from the course
MasterClass did a great job promoting Kris Jenner’s guest appearance by teasing content in different ways, including a standard post…
…and an eye-catching Reel.
View this post on Instagram
If you lead virtual classes or have alumni around the world, an online community is essential.
Communities can take many forms, too. Private Facebook Pages may be great for class discussion. Public hashtags can amplify important content.
If you’re focusing on student engagement, a Facebook Group or Page is a natural fit. Here, folks can discuss the course, post questions and comments, and connect over shared experiences.
If you’re building brand awareness, a catchy hashtag can go a long way. Take Princeton, for example; they’ve included #PrincetonU in their bio on Twitter.
Source: Princeton on Twitter
Some educational institutions have internal communication software. But they’re often notorious for their clunky technology and slow load times. That’s why it’s often much easier for students to check Twitter.
— Calgary Linguistics (@calgarylinguist) September 6, 2022
If you post class updates on social, your students can check in from their own devices at any time. Social media is a great way for clubs and instructors to keep their communities informed.
You can also use social to broadcast to a crowd if you have relevant information for an entire student body or your broader community.
Why is it so hot this week? You can thank a heat dome – where hot ocean air gets trapped over a large area, resulting in dangerously high temps, forming a "lid". Here's our guide to heat domes and how to prepare for them: https://t.co/aqY9vKv7r0 pic.twitter.com/okNV3usXKE
— UC Davis (@ucdavis) September 2, 2022
Trying to reach a broader audience or just make your content more accessible? Consider livestreaming your lectures via platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
Online lectures allow students to access content on their own time and at their own pace. Some students may have difficulty attending classes. In those cases, online lectures can be a lifesaver. And students can review your lecture as often as they need to understand the material fully.
Livestreaming your lecture also allows you to reach a wider audience. Students from other institutions or countries can watch and learn. This open access will expand the reach of your expertise.
The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania is a good example of this. They post lectures from their distinguished speaker series on YouTube. Here, Dr. Josh Greene, a Harvard professor, speaks to Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality.
If you’re able to moderate the chat, it’s also an easy way to engage students. Introverted students may find it easier to type a question instead of speaking in front of a crowd. Plus, you can add captions to your lecture, making it more accessible.
Social media is a powerhouse. You can use it to find a job, build your skills, connect with potential employers and much more.
But on the flip side, social media doesn’t forget. Once you put something out onto the internet, it can almost always be found again.
That means digital literacy is more important than ever. Students must learn how to be responsible and effective while using these tools.
As an educator, you can help your students develop the skills they’ll need to succeed.
User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by regular people, not brands. Your students are likely already generating content. Why not encourage them to post on the topics you’re teaching? You could incentivize participation with a bump in grades or as bonus work.
FYI: You’ll have better results if you give your students parameters. Don’t just say, “Post about class, and you get one get-out-of-homework free card!” Instead, create a relevant hashtag for them to use. Or, say, for bonus points on an assignment, they can post a photo of themselves working on the assignment.
As always, ask permission before you repost their content. If you’re new to UGC, here are some best practices.
See the latest data and discover the top social media trends specific to education — and craft a strategy that’s too cool for school.Get the report
As an educator, you probably use a mix of active and passive learning.
Active learning requires students to actively engage with the lesson. This may be through discussions, challenges, or debates.
Passive learning requires learners to listen to lessons and absorb the information. Then, they must consider or translate the information. In classrooms, this might look like lectures and note-taking.
Social media poses the opportunity for both active and passive learning. For example, you could lecture your students on the dangers of misinformation on Twitter. Then, task them with finding a misinformed tweet and presenting their fact-checking process. Students will learn to examine data and provide evidence supporting their findings.
The combination of active and passive learning allow students to absorb information and then engage with what they’ve learned.
Finding meaningful ways to use social media in your classroom can be a slog. So, we’ve come up with a few lesson ideas to help you take advantage of social media’s built-in benefits.
Is your lesson goal to promote critical thinking? Then you might have students tweet their responses to weekly discussion prompts.
Twitter’s character count limit will force students to be concise. They’ll have to identify their argument and communicate it without wasting words.
Task your students with creating a photo or video essay hosted on a social media platform. Instagram is great for photo essays, while YouTube or TikTok work for video essays.
Video essays differ from popular short-form social media videos. They’re structured, analytical, persuasive, and often longer.
These essays often have a voice-over element and include video, image, or audio footage. The video should make an argument or prove a thesis, much like a traditional essay.
If your students use TikTok to host them, they may have to create a series of shorter videos that work together. For longer content, YouTube is a better fit.
Photo essays present a narrative through images, creating a form of visual storytelling.
If you ask your students to create a photo essay on Instagram, they’ll have an extra challenge. They have to think about how their photo essays will be interpreted in the grid and as they pop up on a user’s feed.
Turn community-building into a lesson. Have your students create a strategy to build a community-based Facebook group.
To be successful, they’ll need to figure out a niche or specific problem they can solve for. This forces your students to develop their problem-solving skills.
Have students build their collaborative skills with document-sharing tools like Google Docs. Groups of students can share notes and collaborate during lessons in real time.
The working world is becoming more globalized and competitive every day. So, it’s essential to teach students to develop networking and thought-leadership skills.
By creating a LinkedIn profile and connecting with other professionals, students can:
- Learn how to build and nurture relationships
- Identify potential mentors
- Develop a personal brand
Use LinkedIn to show thought-leadership in action. Your students can share resources, request feedback, and post relevant articles and videos.
As students become more comfortable using LinkedIn, they can start exploring. Encourage them to follow other thought leaders and join conversations.
Hootsuite can help make life a little easier. And with Hootsuite’s Student Program, qualified educators even get a deal!
Educators and administrators, here are four features that deserve your attention.
Scheduling all of your social posts in advance can help you save major time. If you’ve got a lot on your plate — as most educators do — this can be a huge help.
Hootsuite Planner’s calendar view makes it easy to see each post you’ve scheduled across every platform. You can filter posts by account, drag and drop upcoming posts to new times or days, or easily duplicate recurring content — all from one simple dashboard.
Hootsuite’s social listening tools help you analyze millions of online, real-time conversations. You can use Streams to track topics that are relevant to your lessons or set alerts for your institution’s name. You’ll see what people are thinking and feeling, and you can use that data to influence your practices.
If you’re serious about using social, you’ll want to make time to review your work and make adjustments based on your findings. Hootsuite’s Analytics can help you dig deep into the numbers and show you what’s working and what’s not with your social strategy.
But analytics can also be a valuable teaching tool.
Understanding data analytics is a huge advantage, especially in our tech-forward age. Learning how to translate insight into action is a huge win. Students who understand how to interpret data are more employable, period.
Want to take your social marketing to the next level? Hootsuite Academy offers on-demand video training to help you build your skills and engage with your audience. If you’re planning to teach with social media, these courses are a must-have.
Learn all the ways Hootsuite can help educational institutions improve their social efforts.
Using social media in education has never been easier. With Hootsuite, you can manage all of your social profiles, schedule and publish posts, engage your followers, monitor relevant conversations, analyze results, manage your ads, and much more — all from one simple dashboard. Try it free today.