Social Media for School Nutrition: Building Your Brand

Last month in our first Social Media for School Nutrition post we talked about five ways to get organized and get started:

  • Review and Select Platforms: Decide if you’re using Facebook or Twitter (or both), and review other platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
  • Choosing URLs and Page Names: Keeping in mind your brand identity and future marketing needs, choose URLs and usernames/handles that represent your business, or some aspect of it.
  • Study the Field: Review the successful social media efforts of your colleagues to get inspired!
  • Take a Webinar: Many companies offer free or low-cost social media webinars for small business owners; they are a great way to keep on top of current trends.
  • Create an Editorial Calendar: Instead of doing a little social media every day, do the bulk of it ahead of time; create and use an editorial calendar, and use Facebook’s scheduling feature to save time and stay organized.

Building Your Brand: What’s In a Name?

Let’s look at some ways to successfully build your brand once you have decided on which platform(s) you will use. Choosing the right URLs and account usernames/handles is a big part of brand-building, so we reiterate—choose something meaningful to your business, or some aspect of your business. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Does the URL and/or handle display well? Does it look nice and neat, and communicate something about your business? The School Nutrition Association’s Twitter handle is @schoollunch – even if you didn’t know what “SNA” is, the Twitter handle alone gives you a good idea of the subject area.
  2. Is the URL and/or handle appropriate for marketing materials? Think about all of the ways you will display this information—on fliers, handouts, signs, as well as in online materials—and choose accordingly. Think about length, picture (or even draw on paper) the names without additional context, and think about your brand five years down the road—are your URLs and display names going to hold up over time? The School Nutrition Foundation keeps it simple on Facebook with Your preferred suffix or handle may already be taken, so play with several different versions and be ready for a little trial-and-error when it’s time to choose.

Building Your Brand: Authenticity and Authority

Marketing and branding buzzwords can be—frankly—a little annoying, and there are few words marketers love to toss around more than “authenticity”. The truth is, authenticity matters; people don’t want to feel like they are connecting with a product or company, but a person. So, how do you achieve authenticity? By being authentic—it really is as simple as that. And, in turn, authenticity lends you an air of authority because your audience believes in you, your message, and your product or service.

Think of how you use your personal Facebook page or Twitter account; you probably share all kinds of information, not just information about your work day. Rather than thinking of your business page as a place to market your program, think of it instead as a way of communicating your program’s core values. In addition to sharing information about school meals, share information that is relevant to your program but shines a light on someone else. Examples include:

  • Sharing beautiful photos of school meals from other school nutrition services pages—give a shout out to your colleagues!
  • Sharing non-school nutrition stories about your school or district: student and staff achievements, special events, and sports news.
  • Reach out to departments you work with—custodial, transportation, physical education, health/home economics—and find creative ways to co-market your programs. You could help the transportation department advertise for help, or share the custodial department’s new recycling initiative. This is a great way to connect the whole school community, and promote positive messaging for everyone.
  • Sharing news and information on research, scholarships, grant opportunities, funding, and professional opportunities from School Nutrition Association and School Nutrition Foundation Facebook pages—we follow back, and we love to share your information as well! Sharing is a great way to get noticed by other business pages, and new followers who are SNA members like you. It’s a free way to access a segment of your target audience.
  • Connect trending stories in the news (especially with relevant #schoollunch-related hashtags) to your Facebook and Twitter accounts; sharing big news in foodservice, even if it isn’t “about” school nutrition specifically, will raise your visibility and has the potential to attract new followers to your page(s). So while you may not be a Fuel Up to Play 60 school, sharing a news item about another nearby school or district’s FUTP60 achievement is like giving that school a virtual “high-five” while also sharing relevant school nutrition content with your audience.

Building Your Brand: Tag, and You’re “It”

Sharing news articles about neighboring schools, your professional organizations, research, or anything school nutrition related is great but you have to tag other Facebook pages as well; it alerts a page that you’re sharing content relevant to them and it helps draw potential new followers to your page.

Facebook allows you to ‘like’ other pages from your business page, just like you do from your personal profile—simply login to Facebook and use it “as” your page, and then you can like, share, and tag that page when you share related content. So for example, if you shared a story from the Washington Post about the Dallas Independent School District you would share the link, and in your status update you would mention—and tag—both the Washington Post and Dallas ISD Facebook pages, in addition to briefly summarizing the article for your audience.

It seems like a small step, but it is an important one. If you ‘like’ and tag pages, you increase the chances of that page liking and tagging you back, which increases your online reach and helps you grow your page organically, without investing in paid clicks or sponsored posts.

Do you have questions about using social media for school nutrition, or would you like to share your school lunch story with Beyond Breakfast? Drop our blogger Christina an email at

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