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May 31st, 2019

Social Media Helps Boost School Vote

Social media isn’t just about dog and cat videos (hilarious, no doubt) and photos of your latest salad creation (so delicious). It can educate and motivate individuals and their communities to do great things.

If you have a social media strategy and an audience looking for answers, you can see amazing results and achieve goals that have proved elusive.

Billings School District 2 passed its first high school levy in 12 years on May 7. The vote for additional operational funds wasn’t even close, with a final margin of 60% yes, 40% no.

Months before Election Day, school officials met with Kinetic to discuss the challenge at hand and how we could help the district get the word out about the need for funding for textbooks, other school materials, and additional career counselors.

Armed with a straightforward but powerful message, we produced yard signs, billboards, radio ads and videos featuring local students. The students talked about their frustrations with outdated, tattered textbooks. They couldn’t take them home to study, so they took photos of the pages they needed. In one textbook, George W. Bush was in the middle of his presidency more than a decade ago. They also spoke of their wish for more help in preparing for a real-world career.

We created a website, Stand 4 Students/It’s Time,” that answered many questions on the minds of voters – what is a mill levy, why are we asking, how will the money be used, etc.  Videos of students, a graphic timeline of previous SD2 funding requests, a long list of FAQs and a “How Can I Help?” section were highlighted.

If all that wasn’t enough, we produced an aggressive social media blitz that put the critical facts behind the need for a “yes” vote in front of voters and other interested parties.

In daily Facebook and Instagram posts (and sometimes several in a day), we encouraged people to register to vote and told them of late registration procedures. We reminded them of the mail-in ballot protocol. We invited supporters to attend rallies and volunteer to distribute yard signs. We explained the key educational needs that additional funds would address. We pushed out links to those student videos and local newspaper and TV coverage. We broadcasted on Facebook Live from events. This was a social media campaign on steroids. We were told by many supporters that it played a significant role in the stunning margin of victory.

The success of the SD2 mill levy was a true team effort. Students, teachers, school administrators, board members, parents, school supporters, community leaders, business leaders, and many others stepped up to vote, volunteer and get the word out. We were honored to have worked with Superintendent Greg Upham and many others on this rewarding and community-changing project.

We felt that a strong social media effort was critical to the passage of the mill levy. We were right on that one.