Ten Canadian School Districts to Watch on Social Media
School districts in Canada are doing awesome things every day.
Across the country, students, teachers and staff are learning from and challenging each other, giving back and making their communities better places in the process. There are achievements to be shared and praises to be sung, and school districts are increasingly adopting social media as a preferred communications channel for sharing out these messages.
At Box Clever Education, we recognize the time and effort it takes to build and maintain your social media presence. In order to have a great social media profile, posts should be timely and consistent, on-brand, and relevant, useful and interesting in content. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and while Box Clever Education strongly believes that originality always shines, it can be helpful to observe and learn from others in your space who are doing things well!
Here are ten Canadian school districts bringing their A Game on social media, sorted from east to west.
English Montreal School Board in Montréal, Québec
The English Montréal School Board is the largest English school board in Québec with more than 43,000 students enrolled at 79 schools, outreach and vocational centres, and social affairs institutions.
Active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the EMSB does a great job at highlighting the activities and achievements of their schools as well as individual students. Posts on Facebook consistently tag mentioned Pages, whether they’re district schools, community organizations, or even the NBA, and hashtags are used meaningfully with every Tweet. They have a very active Vimeo account and have even gone live on Periscope a few times, so they recognize the value and engagement that video can bring!
Special shoutout to the official #WeAreEnglishMTL hashtag included in their Twitter & Instagram bios; this is a great way for staff, students and parents to clearly see how they can interact with the EMSB on social media, and it also makes it easy for the EMSB social media manager to curate content!
Commission scolaire Lester B. Pearson School Board in Dorval, Québec
With 52 schools and more than 20,000 students and staff, the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) is one of the largest on the island of Montréal. The LBPSB has an awesome Facebook following of 5.2K people and posts a great variety of content that often includes engaging photos, graphics, and video. The LBPSB also makes good use of different Facebook features like Events.
Taking an alternative direction to a “one size fits all” approach, the school district also manages a Twitter account for their Educational Services Department, providing a dedicated channel for educators to get relevant school board updates and industry news. They also manage another Twitter account dedicated to their seven Continuing Education Centres and a new Facebook Page to promote their International Programs.
Peel District School Board in Mississauga, Ontario
Peel District School Board is the “big dog” on our list with over 154k students in 257 schools in Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga. They have a whopping 162K followers on Twitter alone, another 30K on Facebook, and 6K on Instagram, so they have a HUGE and highly diverse #PeelFam (audience) to cater to.
We recognize that the PDSB likely has more resources to support their social media efforts than most school districts, but one thing they really shine for (that anyone can do) is injecting creativity and personality into their messages - they love their GIFs. You’re doing something right when you get 353 comments, 3.9K retweets and 3.5K favourites on a school closure notice!
Lakehead District School Board in Thunder Bay, Ontario
The Lakehead District School Board is made up of 29 schools and approximately 13K students and staff in the Thunder Bay area.
They do a great job amplifying the voices of their community by regularly retweeting district schools, teachers and staff from their LPS Twitter handle. They post consistently (but not overwhelmingly often) on Facebook, and reach their 3K audience with highly engaging photos, graphics, posters, videos and more.
They also share a healthy mix of original and curated content (from their schools, community organizations, news sources, etc.), and they use Facebook Ads to increase their reach and promote events like speaker series or school theatre productions!
Chinook School Division No. 211 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan
The Chinook School Division is a division of approximately 6,000 students around Swift Current in Southwest Saskatchewan. With a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Chinook School Division has grown their social media following to approx. 3.8K followers and they do a great job of posting diverse but relevant content.
The division uses some unique features on Facebook that we haven’t seen many other school divisions using; they’re looking to reach job seekers with a tab on their Facebook Page for ‘Job Opportunities’, and the tab for their integrated Twitter feed is awesome because it allows their audience that is just on Facebook access to the info shared on Twitter.
Westwind School Division No. 74 in Cardston, Alberta
The Westwind School Division covers the far southwestern corner of Alberta and serves a diverse and largely rural population of just under 4,400 students. They’re a smaller district, but still find the time to share relevant content on social media on a regular basis.
While their Instagram account isn’t even a year old, they’re doing a great job with it - we love the creative and unique hashtags they use across their posts, like #westwindhoops (for all basketball related posts), and how they remember to include relevant hashtags on posts about larger community or even national events, like in their post for #CanAgDay.
They also record their Board Meetings and share the videos on their YouTube channel, which is great for parents and teachers who want to stay informed.
Also, isn’t the Westwind team using awesome graphics?!
Foothills School Division No. 38 in High River, Alberta
Foothills School Division (FSD) supports approximately 9,000 students in an area south of Calgary encompassing High River, Okotoks, Black Diamond and others.
The Foothills School Division has a smaller following than some of the larger school districts, but their audience is highly engaged and most posts and tweets get a significant number of likes, shares and retweets. Their content is a solid balance of original posts, shared posts, and curated content, and they make a point to incorporate the division brand through their blue and green colours when they can. They also share articles from their Blog on social media to keep traffic coming back to their website.
We commend their team for taking great photos! They’re bright and clear, and the shots are creative; shared on Facebook and Twitter, they do an awesome job of providing current and prospective parents and students a glimpse into “a day in the life” of a FSD38 student.
Greater St. Albert Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 734 in St. Albert, Alberta
A district of 16 schools and approximately 6,000 students, Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools is up to some interesting things lately! The district just unveiled a new visual identity, and they used their Facebook Page and Twitter account to slowly roll out different elements of their new look. This approach is a great way to get people involved in and excited for the grand reveal.
GSACRD also never forgets about their teachers! They spotlight the Rotary Teacher of the Month Award winner each month and often retweet their teachers to showcase what they’re doing in each of their classrooms.
School District 42 Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows in Maple Ridge, British Columbia
With approximately 15K students and 7K followers on social media, School District 42 (#SD42) Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows is doing some great things in their schools and on social media!
They typically share links on Facebook that have been put through a URL shortener (they use Bitly), which not only provides a shorter, more visually appealing URL, but also allows them to track the performance of those links (e.g. how many times the link was clicked on). Having performance stats is really helpful if you’re looking to optimize your social media content or posting schedule, for example.
The district also makes good use of Facebook Events and they have their Twitter feed integrated with their Facebook Page.
School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith in Nanaimo, British Columbia
School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith is a school district of 35 schools and more than 14.3K students and 2K staff. They’re the only school district on this list that has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (brand new this year!) and YouTube, and their YouTube channel is one of the best looking school district YouTube channels we’ve seen so far!
While the district posts a wide variety of school-related content, they will occasionally share more broadly-related community news and events. The number of engagements and shares is a good indicator that NLPS clearly knows their audience and is sharing the “right” kind of more general content.
If you're a school district looking to make improvements on social media, check out the list we put together earlier this year on ten easy ways to improve your school district's social media accounts.