Most of you probably have some sort of interaction with social media on a personal level, but have you considered the benefits of using various platforms to give your high school counseling program a boost? From curating content to pass off to other page managers to going “all in” with your very own counseling TikTok page, here are some pro tips… whether you’re a beginner or social media extraordinaire. No matter your level, read on to learn how social media can give your counseling program an edge for both parent and student connection and program promotion.
1- Create social media content for already existing school accounts
If you’re just starting off and the idea of building your own counselor-specific accounts feels overwhelming, consider how you can help support areas where your school already has a presence. In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here! If your school has a Facebook or Instagram page, connect with the admin for those pages and create a system for feeding content to them that relates to what’s going on in your school counseling world. I was the assigned social media manager on my school counseling team, I promise you… whoever manages the social media pages will THANK you for the extra content!
We all know the school counselor’s plight of informing parents, students, and administrators of what we actually do. Hey, this is a golden opportunity to get some info out there on the great work you’re doing with students and in the classroom setting. Did you run an awesome career fair last month? Snag some of those pics, create some quick captions, and send them off to the manager of your school page. Voila! You don’t even have to do the posting, and your work and success are on display.
Pro Tip: Work as you go. Add pictures of things you are doing into a Google Drive folder for quick access and organization. If someone reaches out to you for content, you already have a group of photos ready to send. If you have an iPhone, you can also “swipe up” on your photo, add a caption, and organize photos into a school counseling album. You’ll be creating an entire bank of highlights and accomplishments that you can easily pull into a newsletter, email announcement, or for your advisory council.
2- Build your own counselor-specific social media platforms
Alright, we are moving out of the beginner pool and wading into intermediate-level waters: actually building specific pages unique to your school’s counseling department. If this feels difficult to champion alone, pull in your fellow counselors and make this a team effort. This would be a great topic to cover at those beginning-of-the-year planning meetings (more tips here on setting up a start-of-school planning day).
It’s okay to start small. Select a relevant platform like Instagram as a starting place. Make sure you choose the “creator” option instead of a personal page. This will allow you to access stats and metrics to track engagement with your audiences. Select a handle that is simple and identifiable (i.e. @PWHSCounselors, @CCHSCounseling, etc.).
What should you be posting about? Think about how you want to engage and inform different audiences: students, staff, and parents. Again, don’t reinvent the wheel; this is all about repurposing the things that you’re already doing. Use your page to promote events, celebrate student wins, equip parents with valuable information, and give pro counseling tips to your students. While you don’t have to post every day, stay active. You want to be providing relevant, up-to-date information and announcements. If you start a page that lays dormant for 8 months, I’m not sure you’re encouraging people to look back for updates.
For using technology beyond social media, I have a whole presentation on using technology to promote your program, check it out here.
3- Become a designer pro with easy-to-use tools like Canva
The best part about managing your own page is you don’t have to be a graphic designer to make it look professional and official. Canva.com is one of my absolute favorite – and free – tools for creating social media graphics. All you have to do is create a free Canva for Education account and you instantly have access to thousands of free templates and graphics. Upload your own brand kit (school colors, fonts, and logos) and personal photos to grab quickly and place into your template. It is so easy!
I recently did a Canva for Program Promotion training for my Clique Collaborative members and it was a huge hit. Shameless plug to join the membership for access to more school counselor resources and future exclusive training webinars.
Pro Tip: If you’ve done the work of creating beautiful graphics in Canva, share them in multiple places. Share on your page, promote the post on your IG story, or snag them for a PowerPoint presentation or quick email blast. The art of social media management is repurposing the work you’ve already done. You can also link your social media pages so the content automatically repurposes onto other platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
4- Go social media expert level with TikTok or reels
If Instagram and Facebook are the low-hanging fruit, TikTok and reel creation are the buds at the top of the tree. The benefit of using TikTok or reels for your school counseling program is relevance. Your students are all over these platforms, so by joining these platforms, you’re entering into their world. Plus, Instagram loves to promote video content… so by making reels, you’re becoming friends with their algorithms and have a greater likelihood of being seen.
Fair warning here: this level has more of a learning curve and takes a little more thought and planning, but the payouts can be huge. Also, you’re very much opening yourself to criticism and trolling from students (let’s be honest, teens can be vicious behind a screen). So you’ll need an extra layer of skin to enter this arena, but if you’re willing to engage your students by speaking their language, this is your platform. You can easily gain credibility, pick up on trends, and be in the know of “what’s cool” among your students (just by a little daily scrolling).
Through this avenue, you may also discover your students need some training on what it means to be a “good digital citizen”. Don’t worry, I already got you covered on that with a resource on Digital Citizenship in my TpT store.
If you’re ready to enter the Wild West of TikTok and reel-making, my advice is to stay true to who you are. If you’re not witty and clever, don’t try to be a comedian. If you’re not a performer, don’t dance. TikToks can be purely informational (you don’t necessarily have to dance and point, but if this is you, I say go for it!). You can do voiceovers or create inspirational content. Think about how you want to educate and inspire your students through video.
The goal of using social media for your counseling department is to advertise, promote, share, and engage in a way that is easy, accessible, and relevant. There are so many ways you can use these platforms. Drop me a message if there are other social media topics you’d like me to cover – I’m all ears!
Head over and listen to Episode 49 of my podcast, High School Counseling Conversations, to hear about “Using a Social Media Strategy to Promote Your High School Counseling Program.”