How to use social media contests to boost school engagement

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is journalist and blogger with a passion for technology and continued learning. She is currently a contributing writer for Muck Rack, Ragan and Technorati. When she isn't busy writing about the latest educational or tech trends, she loves spending time with her husband and playing video games.

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Do you get the most from your students’ love of social media? US Journalist Kayla Matthews discusses the best ways in which Twitter et al can be used to raise school pride and activity.

You’ve probably used social media to send class updates, event invitations and other school-related news. You may have also had to compete with Twitter and Instagram for your students’ attention. But did you know social media can also be the perfect platform for boosting school engagement and awareness?

More and more schools are using social media to share news about sporting events, student achievements and other noteworthy happenings. However, social media isn’t just about news; it’s about engaging. That’s why contests are such a big hit, especially with kids. If you want kids to get excited about school again, try one of these contest ideas:

Promote giveaways before sports games

Friday Night Lights taught us that school sports can be a big deal. Whatever the sport, host a giveaway before the next big game to boost school spirit. Professional teams in the United States that offered chances to win bobbleheads, jerseys and other fun prizes found that attendance grew by as much as 15%.

Brand a hashtag for big events

Your students are already tweeting about everything else under the sun; a good hashtag gives them something to tweet about. If you want to promote a big event like the school play or a pep rally, create a tag for it. Don’t overthink it. Keep it short, straightforward and unique. For instance, #JacksonHighCarWash does a pretty good job of explaining what’s happening and which school is responsible for it.

Ask students to participate

Part of the fun of social media is being able to participate. People love leaving comments and sharing their favorite stories with their friends. Imagine how excited your students will be to enter a contest that allows them to show off their creative sides.

A photo contest on Facebook

What does a typical day at your school look like? What happens when the teachers let loose? Start a photo contest on your school’s Facebook page and you’ll get your answer. Make it more fun with a silly theme, like “Goofiest Club Pic” or “Best School Lunches.”

A school trip contest

Kids like field trips because they’re not in school. They’ll LOVE them if they have a chance to win a prize for going on one. For instance, writing about a class trip to the local science museum is the perfect way for students to share fun learning opportunities with their friends and parents.

Best memories of the year

Sure, your kids might get a yearbook or something similar, but an online yearbook is a chance for them to make a contribution. Start the contest near the end of the year and ask students to send their photos, videos and blogs about their favorite memories from the school year.

School pride

Who’s the biggest fan of your school? Is it the mascot, the football captain or the class president? Maybe it’s the kid who’s too shy to talk to anyone. Let them fight it out in a School Pride Contest. Kids can show their pride for a chance to win a cool prize, like a chance to represent the school at a special event.

A YouTube video or Vine contest

Kids are already shooting videos with their smartphones, so why not invite them to shoot videos for the school? Offer prizes for the best video compilations of school activities, or maybe for the YouTube or Vine video that best illustrates something they learned in school.

Students care about their schools, but you need to let them bring it out the way they want. Your students are all over social media, so use it to host contests and giveaways and your kids will get some of that school spirit back.

Do you use social media to boost participation in your school? Let us know in the comments below.

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