In this case study, we explore how school districts have used ESD 112 social listening services to better understand public sentiment during times of change and uncertainty.
What is Social Listening?
Social listening is an emerging service used to monitor and analyze social media content in order to better understand how your district is perceived. In crises, social listening provides immediate information to help inform official responses and reactions when seconds matter. Social listening also informs districts about misinformation in target audiences that can be corrected. ESD 112 specialists provide this unique service by tapping into online chatter and relaying quick, discreet feedback to district leadership about online reactions, rumors, and dominant opinions.
Social listening is different from community feeds provided in common social media monitoring services, as these services only provide posts where the district page is tagged. Most discussions involving districts online do not tag the district page. Social listening helps districts to stay informed and aware, and in some cases provide appropriate, timely responses.
Why is Social Listening Important?
Awareness of public sentiment can help communications professionals to gauge the effectiveness of district messages. Information gained through social listening can help to inform district communications to families and the media in times of change, uncertainty, and crisis.
Below are some examples of situations where local school districts benefited from our social listening services.
A local school district communications director is notified that a school is going into lockdown due to shots fired near the school. While the communication director acted quickly to alert families of the lockdown, our team immediately found that a media outlet had tweeted about a serious incident at the school before the lockdown was confirmed. Chatter in various online communities revealed spreading misinformation about the location and identity of the alleged shooter. This information informed what the district communicated to internal and external audiences.
When a local school employee was accused of a high-profile crime, we informed the district of public sentiment regarding the incident and district responses. Social listening revealed misidentification of the employee among community groups before an arrest was announced. When an arrest happened, online chatter revealed reactions to the sentencing and general perceptions of the district regarding the event. This information informed district statements and their communications approach. The social listening service allowed district communications to respond quickly to the incident while our specialists provided updates on community sentiments.
In the incident of a drug-related event at a Southwest Washington high school,our team quickly tapped into spreading online threads of misinformation regarding the district response. By utilizing these services, the district was able to monitor how public perceptions changed following district statements and media coverage.
When a student threatened violence at a local school, the school went on lockdown, and district leadership published a lockdown notification to families. Social listening revealed that families were reporting never having received emergency notification text alerts at the beginning of the lockdown. This information prompted the district to schedule a test of emergency notification systems, which resulted in several families correcting their contact information with the school office staff.
Awareness is key!
Even if a district is not engaged in social media communications, they can still be discussed online. Awareness of what is being shared is key to responding to widely-shared misinformation, threatening situations, and understanding public sentiment.
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