Use Social Media to Communicate with Your Chapter

If you’re an advisor who hasn’t yet taken advantage of social media outlets for your chapter, you’ve probably asked yourself if you should jump on the bandwagon.

The answer is a resounding “YES!”

Social media is not a fad—it’s here to stay. The various online platforms society develops and uses will undoubtedly change over the years, but social media has become ingrained in our culture, and we need to leverage it with the missions of our student organizations. 

My chapter uses both Facebook and Twitter, our primary audience for these platforms being DECA members and other students. Many of our members profess to spending quite a bit of time on popular social media sites, so it’s critical that we engage them on the platforms they prefer to use.

You may have a website for your chapter, but how likely is it that members will specifically search for it? Chances are they’d prefer to search for pertinent information on dynamic sites like Twitter, Tumblr or Pinterest. Don’t work to gain an audience, but rather take advantage of the opportunities social media creates and establish a presence in environments where audiences already exist.

I truly realized the value of social media when our chapter created an “event” on Facebook to promote the Polar Plunge, an event we host annually to raise funds for the Special Olympics. We went from an average attendance of 5-15 members to over 30! When students saw other students “attending” the event on Facebook, they wanted to attend, too. Last year we had over 50 students take part in our Polar Plunge.

Social media may seem like a foreign concept to many chapter advisors, but the more you embrace it, the more you’ll learn.

Here are my top five tips for using social media for your DECA chapter:

  1. Select a member of your chapter to manage your various social media sites. He or she should conduct himself or herself professionally and be sure to follow all school district policies in regards to using social media. This person may very well be you!
  2. Determine the primary social media platform used by your target audience. It will most likely be Facebook, but there are many other popular sites, too. You can use Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. Once you get comfortable with the concept and role of social media, start to explore different platforms and grow your chapter’s online presence. 
  3.  If you develop a Facebook page for your chapter, make sure to create a fan page and not a personal page. If you currently have a personal page for your chapter, I’d strongly recommend making the switch. Think of your chapter’s Facebook page like another business’s page; you don’t see businesses like Finish Line or Sears creating personal Facebook pages for their companies.
  4.  Post frequently on your various social media sites. Deliver content that fans and followers will enjoy. Photos of members at competitions and community service events (make sure to tag them), competition tips, spotlights on your chapter’s business partners, chapter announcements and upcoming events are all great examples of fun, relevant and sharable content. Give your audience a reason to continue to “like” or “follow” you.
  5.  Tell your audience that you use social media! If you place posters around the school to promote an event, make sure to include logos of the various social media sites you use, along with any information they’ll need to look you up.

If you don’t already use social media, put these five steps at the top of your to-do list. I know your chapter will enjoy the many benefits it reaps from building up its online presence.

Check out the Appleton East DECA page on Facebook.

Follow Keegan O'Brien on Twitter @AEastDECA or @TheRealKeeganOB.

Categories: Branding and Promotion, Chapter Development, Leadership, Teaching Resources

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