SRINIVASAN_HEAD

Finding your digital niche

By Sriha Srinivasan | May | June 2020
Instagram just took away its famed “Like” system. No longer do we post like-thirsty images, designed with the intention of compelling our beloved followers into tapping twice. TikTok is now booming as a platform, with millions of users per day. As per the writing of this article, it stands at the third-highest free app on the App Store, above Disney+ and YouTube. Twitter is a force of its own, with trends changing at the drop of a hat. Cancel culture is alive and well, lest you be a victim. Corporations take advantage of this mesh of social media, and individuals use it for everything from vanity to simply sounding off. The smaller organization must find their niche in such an expansive cloud, as students born in the digital age have realized and applied.  A Student Leadership organization can throw fantastic events, with school spirit galore. They can show up, dress up, and put in their all. But none of that matters unless the student body actually shows up. The Promotion committees of schools try their best. Walking through the average high school, one is bound to see brightly decorated flaps of butcher paper littered across the hall, but if you watch, you’ll see that rarely does anyone bat an eye. Often, students are actually looking down—at their phones. The solution then, is clear: direct Promotion’s time and energy to digital platforms. Follow the students to where their precious attention spans are. Set up an Instagram, tweet away, perhaps even direct some comedic shoots to be posted on IGTV or TikTok. If only it were that easy. If all of us understood social media, we’d all be living alongside Jeffree Star in Calabasas. I claim to be no expert, but I’d like to share what I’ve learned as the brand-new Promotion chairwoman of my school. The journey was not easy, or was it mapped out, but it is replicable.  Let’s give some context to the social media puzzle that had been bequeathed to me. My school, and our leadership to boot, is tiny. We are all stressed lab rats scurrying for some semblance of success. I don’t blame the previous Promotion kids for their lackluster effort, but make no mistake, it was indeed lackluster. I’d open up the Instagram to a sea of stock photos marred with dark blue text boxes behind dark green text. In the same vein, I’d open up Twitter to… Well, who am I kidding, nobody was on our Twitter. It was as forgotten as Fred today. Do you remember Fred? No? Exactly. There were small glimpses of hope here and there, but they were drowned by the sludge of ineffective content being put out. It was this landslide that I met with my senior year, as a rare new senior to leadership.  First thing on the agenda: establishing new leadership within Promotion. This I considered to be my behemoth task and the ultimate goal for the year. I signed up for Promotion, and showed up to the committee's meeting… To be met with dead silence. To my surprise, nobody was taking charge. Another tense moment passed before I stood up, grabbed a whiteboard marker, and asked “So what’s the move?” It was almost too easy. My year’s goal, completed within the first meeting.  I sometimes wonder if those first few weeks are similar to a start-up’s, or a brand new nation’s. I had the vision (Class of 2020, anyone?), and fantastic kids willing to put in the work; from there, it was about execution. We wiped all our social media, giving us a clean slate, and made our accounts “Business” to get access to our analytics. I delegated specific jobs, posts, and “stories” to members of the committee, at that point seven strong, and the group together criticized and improved upon content before it went up. I watched proudly as our numbers rose, from followers to “likes” to views. Eventually, we were as optimized as Chrissy Teigen during a Twitter Battle. All our members joined our online calendar, TimeTree, allowing us to schedule posts in advance, and giving members notifications reminding them of upcoming content due. We only posted when our analytics predicted the highest follower engagement, allowing us to accomplish our primary goal: informing the masses. Our followers within a semester more than doubled, another one of my goals that I’d expected to span the entire year. Beyond all that, being a leader meant that I felt the most pride out of our entire committee, because I wasn’t only proud of myself, but rather proud for every member of my team too. Many of them had grown as marketers but also artists. Content received less and less critique before going out, because frankly, the content was that good. Design came easier and completed quicker, to the point that we were using our extra time to make funny IGTVs and TikToks to further promote our pages. It was, to put it simply, fun. It’s corny, I know, but my experience with Promotion was (and is!) nothing short of fun. Yes, we have deadlines, and yes, it can get a bit stressful during Spirit Weeks, but we do it. At the end of the day, we have inside jokes that nobody else can understand. Our group chat is populated with memes, and I happen to be a bit biased, but I truly believe that we have this whole team-collaboration formula down. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have welcomed two more great kids to the team this semester.  It is now my job to make sure Promotion is just as successful after I leave in June. I plan to leave them notes about my experience leading them, and to move over ownership of our calendar and organizational tools with instructions on how to use. I’ll quietly watch from afar, but I’m not worried. I know my kids, and I see the success we’ve had, and the continued potential for success they still have. And if they’re reading this—KitchenAid mixer > all other mixers. :)
Sriha Srinivasan is a student at Early College High School in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District

© 2020 Association of California School Administrators