GDS’s Instagram account has 1,037 followers and includes 397 posts of candid classroom shots of the High and Lower schools, videos from school sports games and content that emphasizes GDS’s mission. The account, dubbed @gdshoppers, along with its corresponding Twitter and Facebook accounts, has emerged in the past decade as social media has become a platform for professional use and community engagement.
Many local private and public high schools have official school Instagram accounts. Danny Stock, a former second-grade teacher at GDS, is the man behind GDS’s social media.
“I often wished students across all divisions could see the connections between their stories and studies,” Stock said. “My work with social media creates that window into all the fantastic, wacky, beautiful magic that goes on here at GDS.”
But who in the GDS community is looking into that window and who is the GDS social media targeting? Current GDS students, such as sophomore Liana Smolover-Bord, are among the generation that most avidly uses social media, but Smolover-Bord said GDS’s accounts aren’t particularly interesting to her.
“I follow it; I don’t search for it purposefully,” she said. “It’s cool to see the sports pages, especially when I’ve seen the game, but the general GDS Instagram page usually to me isn’t that intriguing.”
Alison Grasheim, the communications director at GDS who handles print and electronic communications, echoed Smolover-Bord’s sentiment. She said that while the communications team is making “inroads with building up our student audience, that is not our main purpose for being on social media.”
Grasheim explained that the main audiences for GDS’s social media are internal constituencies like parents and alumni.
“Prospective families will also find a lot of our social media helpful,” she said.
Stock also mentioned the importance of appealing to prospective families, explaining how GDS markets on social media platforms by using ads to target users with school-aged children. On an organizational level for schools, businesses and corporations, Instagram is all about presenting an image that can successfully convey personality and mission to future members. As it turns out, that success can be attributed to numbers. According to Stock, GDS’s Instagram following has grown 43 percent since mid-September.
“We’ve apparently posted two to three times more content than any of our peer schools,” Stock said. “Our list of Facebook followers has increased by 20 percent in a similar time period.”
Both Stock and Grasheim reaffirmed that GDS’s social media is aiming to keep up with the pace that the Internet is setting.
At the end of the day, though, Stock said that it’s all really about recording “the multitude of ways students and teachers across all divisions engage here at GDS.” For example, Stock said that a statement on Instagram in support of the transgender community reached about 7,400 people.
“If it helped even just one person feel safer and cared for,” he said, “then we’ve been successful.”
By Alissa Simon ’21