Now more than ever, people and youth, in particular, rely on web-based media to stay informed. Therefore, a strong web-based presence for your out-of-school time program is more important than ever.  Here we will review the different social media and web-based services you can use to promote your program and special considerations you may want to take. No matter which platform you are using, consider who your audience is in developing content. For example, you may use a social media platform like Snapchat to blast fun images to youth and a service like MailChimp to put together a professional newsletter for parents.

Social Media Platforms

There are numerous Social Media Platforms available that serve different purposes and are more attuned to different audiences. The advantage of most social media platforms is that you can create quick updates instead of more formal, time-consuming messages like crafted parent letters. Many out-of-school time staff find the easiest ways to use social media is simply to keep the apps on their phone so they can share highlights from their program as they are organically popping up. Most of the social media platforms are integrated so that you can easily post the same content across multiple platforms with the click of a button. 

Creating unique hashtags are a great way to build momentum for a specific event, idea or as a way to incorporate advocacy into your program. For example, images from your Lights on Afterschool event can be posted to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and/or Twitter with the use of #LightsOnAfterschool,  adding your voice to the greater trend.

Be aware of your organization's policies on the use of social media. Pay particular attention to ensure that youth have written photo/media releases that give permission for you to use pictures of them in promotions and be aware of any youth who are not permitted. Additionally, most social media accounts require a minimum user age, often 13 years or older.


One of the original social media platform used widely by both youth and parents. Most programs would consider this the go-to platform that they would use before any other, as it is so widely used. Facebook offers special pages for organizations in which events, pictures and videos, donations and more can be posted.


Allows users to post pictures and images. This is a great way to quickly share images of what is happening in your program on a day to day basis. Instagram is integrated with Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.


Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Users can create different boards and “pin” images that also serve as bookmarks. It is a great tool for providers in planning, as they can pin ideas for activities. In terms of advocacy and outreach, there are many out-of-school time and education infographics available.


Allows users to share photos and videos with many fun add-on features like photo captions, stickers and filters. Images disappear after a few seconds, unless the user takes a screen shot. Users can build a “story” where they have a collection of images that play in a row for a day. Snapchat normally allows users to send pictures to individuals, where they can open a chat dialogue. For organizations, this feature can be turned off if you would like to use it just to share images one-way. Snapchat is currently one of the top-preferred platform with youth. 


Share fun updates of program activities. Quickly inform followers of time-sensitive information, such as inclement weather updates. Use Twitter to generate momentum behind advocacy movements such as Lights on Afterschool.

More Technology-Based Communications

Parent and Youth Communication

Bloomz: A multi-functional communication app designed for educators that allows OST site directors or instructors to directly text-message parents and send e-mails of pictures and videos. Users can create program calendars, set up meetings, and request volunteer support.  Additionally, Bloomz has behavior management that can be shared with parents.

Mail Chimp: Mailchimp is a marketing tool that can be used by educators to send mass e-mails and beautifully crafted newsletters. Users with 2,000 or fewer subscribers can send up to 12,000 emails per month for free. 

Remind: A text-messenger designed for educators to send messages, such as reminders, to whole groups or to individuals and can include images and files. Users can communicate without sharing phone numbers and messages can be translated into over 70 languages.

Website Builders

Edublogs: A WordPress powered tool, primarily used for classroom blogs, designed specifically with themes, and plugins that are just for education. Additionally, there is a community of educators that offer articles on how Edublogs has been successfully utilized.

Weeby: A beginner-friendly website builder that uses a drag and drop design. Weebly offers Weebly for Education, a free tool specifically designed for teachers to create classroom sites, as well as allowing for students to make sites and submit projects.

WordPress: A free, widely employed website builder that can be utilized by both novice users and technology professionals. Websites can be hosted by or you can self-host on Use a variety of templates and plugins to customize your website.