Is your school’s foodservice department active on social media? If not, you could be missing opportunities to grow your food programs and stay relevant. Utilize your school’s website and/or online menu and incorporate it into social media posts! Take advantage of the free accounts Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have to offer. Create a name for your school’s foodservice department and build your online presence with social media accounts.
Benefits of Social Media
Social media is not only free, but the return on investment (aka = your time) is huge! You can drive more traffic to your school’s website, directly interact with parents and students, and boost school meal sales. It’s the lowest price you’ll ever pay for marketing and it’s highly efficient. It’s perfect for sending out menu updates, school news, or any important messages because it enables you to reach people who are following your accounts.
Did you know: the average American high school student spends nearly two hours per day on social media? Adults spend just as much time or more on social media as their teen counterparts, which is why reaching them at their fingertips is so important. Bottom line – being interactive on social media helps you stay relevant in today’s ever-changing world of food and keeps you in front of your target customers.
Connect with the Community
Using social media to promote your online menu can connect your school system with your key audiences of parents and students. Social media can help you learn their food preferences via engagement, their comments, polling, etc. which keeps you ahead of your competition – the bagged lunch.
With social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook being so visually-driven, posting photos of your food menu items can go a long way in promoting your school meals. You can ease parents’ worries about food allergens or nutritional content. You can showcase the healthy options available in your school breakfast and lunch programs. You can even highlight your food department’s knowledge of specialty diets and food allergies.
By interacting with the students and parents on your social platforms, you cultivate relationships, build rapport and increase brand loyalty.
Establishing Your Social Media Presence: How to Start
The whole subject of social media can often be overwhelming when first starting off – especially for business purposes. The key is to start small using the platforms parents and teens are more likely to use. Open basic accounts like Facebook or Instagram for your school district. The two have great synergy, given they are under the same ownership, and allow you to post to each other while logged into only one. You can always expand to Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and so on later if needed. Once you create an account, you’ll be able to “friend,” like, or follow people and organizations, and share relevant content.
Your school’s main goal with social media is to attract followers within your community. This audience will end up being who you market your services to, via the content you post on your account, so you want to make sure your school attracts your target demographic of students and parents. You can do this in numerous ways:
Daily or weekly posts
Fun quizzes, questionnaires, surveys or polls
Shareable media such as photos and videos
Educational posts that teach your audience
Posts with important information
Incorporating others (friends/followers, organizations, etc.) into posts with tags
Using hashtags and relative phrases
Interact with followers (short response time to questions/comments)
What and When to Post to Social Media
For Facebook, it’s highly advised to keep posts to once per day or less so you don’t inundate your followers. The great thing about Facebook is that you can be creative with posts. Whether posting an educational “Did You Know…” with some kind of food factoid, creating a survey to poll your followers on their opinions about a new menu item, or posting a picture of the food department tagging the employees, Facebook is pretty versatile. According to various research, Thursdays and Fridays between 1pm - 3pm are the best time to post if you wish to receive the most views on your content.
When using Instagram, you’ll want to strive for posting at least once a day, with 2pm - 3pm considered the best time to post. Instagram’s platform is completely visual, so it is important to post high quality photos, videos or digital images. This is where pictures of your school’s breakfast or lunch program come in handy! Hashtags are also a valuable feature. By tagging words or phrases that describe your image or video, you can capture attention from non-followers. (Ex: #OurSchoolLunchRocks). Think of what makes your school unique and design your own branded hashtags for others to use.
If you were to establish a Twitter account, you’d want to create shorter, more informative or educational posts. Twitter is great for directing followers to specific websites as you can include links in your post, unlike Instagram. Twitter has more of a business feel and users tend to post more newsworthy items. Because of the fast-paced environment of Twitter, you can post 3-5 times per day without losing followers. The best suggested time to post is between Mondays and Thursdays from 1pm - 3pm.
How My K-12 Resource Can Help
Need help with your social media? We’ve got you covered! Menu consultation, menu software support, and procurement review aren’t the only things we specialize in. My K-12 Resource also offers Professional Development support. Our training services can help turn your team’s social media managers into pros! Turn up the excitement around your school’s meal programs - contact us and learn how to develop your social media presence today!