Social media in your school. What was that word again?

Richard Dawson

Richard is a social media consult at Harlaco Webb.

Follow @harlacowebb

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Five years ago, when I first started working with clients on social media, I needed to explain to many of them what it was. Times have changed. Nearly every school now has some kind of presence on social media, but few use it well.

In a nutshell, social media is where your entire school community resides:

  • Parents
  • Prospective parents
  • Pupils
  • Prospective pupils
  • Alumni
  • Staff
  • Peer institutions
  • Specialist media/media outlet
  • Wider local community

So how do you make social media work for your school?

If you remember one word from this article it's 'engagement'. No, not the getting married type of engagement, though there are some similarities. I mean using Twitter, Facebook, etc, to create a two way communication with your school community.

So often I see schools using social media as a broadcast medium by sending their message one way and not listening to the audience. That’s a mistake because the return on your investment in social media is so much better if you make it a two way process.

If we look at schools in the USA, social media tools are increasingly being used for collaborative learning for an even more sophisticated form of engagement. Posts can be scheduled in advance, reducing the workload on the school.

Here's a few examples of how you can engage more effectively with your audience:

  • Using Google Calendar as a diary and lesson planner shared with parents and pupils
  • Posting questions of the day on Twitter for extra-credit for pupils
  • Creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN) by reaching out to colleagues at other schools through Twitter and share information and resources
  • Following other teachers, schools, alumni, and people in your community, then creating conversations with them
  • Creating separate social media channels for admissions, alumni, library, student body, school, department
  • Tweeting updates on sports matches, school events
  • Posting recordings of school auditions, rehearsals, concerts and events onto your YouTube channel
  • Tweeting school cancellations due to weather
  • Tweeting articles from local newspapers that mention your school
  • Posting changes in the daily schedule
  • Tweeting a school picture of the day
  • Tweeting quotes from school meetings that are informational or memorable
  • Tweeting job openings at your school
  • Tweeting upcoming admission, alumni, and scheduled calendar events as reminders

This list is not exhuastive, as there are so many more. Remember it's that word 'engagement' that’s the one you need to remember.

It would be great to hear your suggestions of using social media as a school communication tool, so please feel free to add them to the comments below.

Photo credit: Jason Howie

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