Embrace social media as a partner and promoter of your yearbook effort
It's amazing how far we've come with technology over the last 20 years, even the last 10 years. A few years ago during my school yearbook assemblies I pulled out a relic from a past era - my first cell phone. For those not old enough to remember "bag phones," these were phones housed in a bag the size of a standard purse. The battery didn't last long and you had to plug it into a car's cigarette lighter to work; remember we used to have cigarette lighters in cars, now they are considered electrical outlets. Many students were amazed to see this item and can't believe that bag phones were cutting edge technology back before they were born.
But in just over 10 years the idea of social media has emerged and begun to dramatically change how we interact with others and share information. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and a growing list of similar services and apps have captivated nearly all teenagers and pre-teens across the world, not to mention many adults as well.
There are some who believe that social media, always live online, will eventually mean the end of school yearbooks. In fact there are new services who bill themselves as online yearbooks - join the future, they say, ditch the book. I firmly disagree with this idea since the school yearbook has and will continue to be a very unique item, something kept for a lifetime.
Will these "high tech" services even be around five or 10 years from now, especially considering how quickly technology is changing these days? Plus there are plenty of studies that show that even college students, who have grown up as digital natives, still value a standard BOOK as a tool to use in their education. Yearbooks aren't going anywhere.
So how can social media and your yearbook effort live together, even thrive together? And YES, they can. The key idea here is how to use social media to complement and promote your yearbook effort anytime, at all times. And see how can you use social media to get students across your school building to interact and assist with your yearbook effort to not only make your job easier but also to share their own stories and further spread the word about your book, leading to higher book sales.
For my Jostens advisers you have a great selection of social media-related items on your Yearbook Avenue website. Click on the Digital Classroom link, then enter Social Media in the search bar. There you'll find the Jostens Social Media Guide to download, filled with great ideas and strategies. You'll also have access to social media contest ideas, sample messages to post on various social media sites, cool social media promotional images to download and use, and even an online video with some advice and ideas on using social media as part of your effort.
I continue to promote my idea of "total storytelling," not just treating the yearbook as a chore to finish but actively gathering and sharing stories from people all over your school, as many as you can, to be housed both in your book and on your ReplayIt.com website/app and digital Time Capsule.
Social media, where many students "live" these days, should be another place your staff should use to help gather and tell those stories. Regular social media usage can easily point your audience to check out new material you've posted to your ReplayIt site and app. Soon your students will be looking forward to whatever new stories your yearbook staff can tell.
The days of tables in the cafeteria for book sales, the same old posters hung around the school building for promotion, and daily announcements that are ignored by most students - all are long gone. Social media are the present and the future, and if you haven't started yet it's time to use these new tools to further your entire yearbook effort.
And it's not too late to start - if you have books left to sell (and virtually all schools do) or you're a fall yearbook still working hard and need more photos and information, NOW is the time to get rolling.
Check out the social media materials in the YBA Digital Classroom, then discuss these ideas with your staff right away and let me know how I can assist. It's never too late to get started - it's just important to GET STARTED.