A double tap unlike any other for Arcadia Unified School District’s Instagram page. In its “Top 10 Best School Instagram Accounts” list, BuzzFeed named the school district among the top educational accounts (including college, high school, and elementary) in the world.
“I was shocked when I received a message, fittingly on our Instagram page, with a link to the BuzzFeed article,” said Arcadia Unified’s Chief Communications Officer Ryan Foran who created the Instagram page nearly five years ago. “There are so many great schools and universities running very creative Instagram pages with world-class photography; it was incredibly rewarding to be recognized among them.”
According to the BuzzFeed article, “The Arcadia Unified School District‘s Instagram account shows that public school districts can do Instagram well too. Their feed goes to great lengths to demonstrate the wide variety of extracurricular activities on offer in the well-regarded California school district.”
The first picture Foran posted on the district’s Instagram page was of a 9/11 tribute that occurred at an all-school assembly at Arcadia High School in 2013. The photograph shows the student body of more than 3,500 linked arm-in-arm while singing the school’s alma mater. Since that first post, there are now nearly 4,000 followers to the page which has posted an incredible 1,065 times since 2013. In 2017 alone there were 103,646 double taps, aka “likes,” for the Instagram novice’s 317 posts.
“We started the Instagram page to better connect with our students. Our Facebook page was and is a terrific outreach to connect with our parents and community, but we thought Instagram would better cater to our students, which comprise the majority of our followers,” Foran said.
The key to creating a dynamic Instagram page is consistency and creativity according to Foran. He said he has plenty of great stories to share and highlight thanks to the plethora of activities, sports, arts, and academics that are offered throughout the award-winning and highly rated school.
The Arcadia Unified Instagram page has averaged more than one post per each school day for more than four and a half years now. In order to maintain the volume and consistency of pictures posted, the Arcadia Unified page uses a team approach. In addition to Foran, the District’s Communications Specialist Amber Nuuvali, and several students post on the page. Last year, Foran turned over the keys to the Instagram page to the District’s Digital Communications Internship students. Arcadia High School Senior Naomi Silver, who will be studying journalism at NorthEastern University in the fall, was the first student trusted with the account as a student manager. Arcadia High School Junior Katie Wen has been the Student Manager of the account for the past two semesters.
“When I first became Instagram manager, I never expected that our District account could make it on a Buzzfeed article,” remarked Wen. “I would have to thank all the members of my team: Sandra, Ella, Mikayla, and Trinity; without them, none of this would be possible, and we are all very excited about the article!”
Turning over the login credentials to the District’s social media accounts is something Foran said was not an easy decision, but one he’s glad he made.
“I think we need to empower our students and teach them the proper techniques when it comes to social media, branding, and digital citizenship,” Foran explained. “Some parents want to keep their children off of social media entirely, I want to trust our kids and provide teachable moments. Our students have done a remarkable job, and there is no way that we would have received this recognition without their dedicated work.”
Arcadia’s social media presence goes well beyond its Instagram page. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, We Chat, and Weibo are also a part of its digital presence to help spread the news about the District; and many of those pages are also run in part by student interns. The District’s Facebook page has more than 5,500 followers while its Twitter feed boasts nearly 3,000 followers. There are nearly 300 videos that have more than 415,000 views on Arcadia’s YouTube page. All very impressive numbers considering the District has less than 10,000 students.
As Buzzfeed eluded to, schools can indeed make a lasting impact via social media. Here’s another heart/like/thumbs up to one local school district that can be an example for many others of how social media can be used as an effective communication and storytelling tool.