Greg Pilewski | October 2014

STEAM Leadership: 6 Tips for Building Successful Social Networking Communities

Social networking is a hot topic!  As leaders prepare to look for new avenues to connect with their staff, other leaders, and their colleagues, building a social networking community might be something to consider.  Consider connecting between schools and programs as a way to share ideas and build a following.  We have boiled it down to six key tips to consider when building a successful social networking community.

Tip #1 Set Clear Goals and Plan Accordingly:

Everything always starts with clear expectations and a plan on how to achieve those results. The same holds true for developing successful social networking communities as a way to connect with your staff and others. As you consider planning with your team on building a social networking community consider the following questions.

  • Do we want to create a buzz?
  • Is there a contact list we want to build?
  • Do we want to build a relationship?
  • Are we open to feedback?
  • Who is our key audience?
  • How ready for social media is the audiences?
  • What is their level of participation?
  • Does the audience have a specific, or diverse, demographic? 
  • What are the personality types of our audience?

Tip#2: Listen to Your Audience:

Listening is a powerful skill as a leader.  With building successful social media networkssocial listening” is important in order to better understand what is truly important to your intended audience.  Consider the following questions as you seek to listen and learn about those you seek to engage.

  • What is your audience passionate about?
  • How often, and what are they sharing? 
  • What are the “pain points” that they are sharing and discussing?
  • Where does your audience hang out and what sites to they often visit?

Tip #3: Create Quality Content:

Content is king. If you are providing relevant and meaningful information that is informative, high-interest, and entertaining then you are well on your way to connecting with your audience. Remember, if it’s useful it will lead to sharing with others. Consider the following questions as you plan for providing quality content.

  • How informative is the content?
  • Is the quality of the content relevant and meaningful?
  • Is the quality of the content actionable?
  • How entertaining, if at all, is the content?
  • Does the content appeal to the eye of the audience? 

Tip #4: Make Sharing Easy:

If it’s useful your audience will share it with others, but it has to be easy. Consider the following questions as you plan to make sharing simple.

  • What are the different ways our audience can create, post, share, and distribute information?
  • Will we provide our audience with a social sharing toolbar?
  • What will the overall structure look like and are we making it simile for our users?
  • What platform will we use and how much will it cost?

Tip #5 Be Active and Responsive:

In order to keep a network evolving and growing it needs to be monitored in order to be responsive and keep the community active. Consider the following questions as you plan to keep your social network “buzzing” and “humming”.

  • Who is going to contribute to the content and responsive to questions and comments from the community?
  • How do we make sure we don’t over share?
  • Is there a way we can create live events and broadcasts to keep our audience engaged? 
  • How can we give away free items that would be meaningful to our audience?

Tip #6 Measure:

Having a better understanding up front on what you plan to measure with your social networking community is critical to achieving your intended goals. Consider the following questions as you determine what you want to measure.

  • Do we want our audience to share across all social sites?
  • Do we want to measure click through rates?
  • Are we going to want to measure conversation rates?
  • Do we want to measure traffic from other social channels?

Are you looking for more information on this topic?  Check out the following resources below for your review and reflection.

In what ways are you using social networking communities to connect with your audience?

What successes and challenges are you experiencing with using social networking communities at your school, among leaders, or in your district?

About the Author

Greg is a former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and has nearly twenty years of classroom, school-based and district-level leadership experience in five different public school systems. He has a passion for teaching and learning and a commitment to supporting school-level and system-level leaders with integrated and innovative resources. Not only is Greg an accomplished leader and speaker, he’s also an avid tinkerer in his workshop where he enjoys making projects around his historic home for his lovely wife and two Labrador retrievers. You can catch Greg’s insights right here each and every Thursday and contact him directly at: