Social Media Tips and Suggestions for Schools

Why and how school social media policies can improve communication.

If you want to know the most recent announcements or updates about a product or company, where do you go? Their social media platforms, of course.

If you are a parent and you want to know the most recent announcement or updates about your child’s school, where do you go? Their social media platforms, maybe. If they don’t have any, or any that are maintained regularly, you might check the school website. If that doesn’t give you any updated news, then you can dig through weeks of papers wadded in your child’s backpack or search your email to see if you missed an automated newsletter.

Obviously, this is not ideal.

The reality is that public schools have an enormous responsibility to inform families but many have yet to use social media to their advantage. School social media policies can offer effective ways to reach schools’ target audience: parents and students. An Edison Research study, Moms and Media 2012, found that:

  • More than 72% of mothers have a Facebook profile.
  • Mothers spend an average 2.5 hours online a day.

Don’t forget the kids, either. Children ages 13 and older are legally able to start their own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. And they do — nine out of 10 teens are now on social media.

Reasons Public Schools and School Districts Should Use Social Media
No other method of communication or media will reach an audience faster than social media. But schools don’t just have to use it for school closings, meeting updates or weather announcements. Here are some types of communications that can be handled through social media:

  • Crisis management.   Crisis information, resources and announcements
  • Fast daily communication. School closings, upcoming meetings, weather updates, school fundraising reminders, health information
  • Public relations. Rumor control, reputation management, general good news
  • Community engagement. Depending on school privacy policies, social media can be an effective way to share school and student accomplishments.

Suggestions for Public Schools and School Districts Using Social Media
It is very easy for any individual to set up an unofficial page for a location, business or school. When it comes to social media, school administrators must play a strong offense and set up an official school or district page where their audience can find the correct information to avoid confusion and miscommunication.

Other factors to consider:

  • Create a social media policy. If administrators want the benefits of social media, they need to prepare for every aspect that comes along with it. Many schools have a social media policy for their employees but one needs to be created for the school platforms, too. Who will post to and monitor pages and how often? How will negative comments get dealt with? What are the privacy expectations and regulations?
  • District-wide social media can be effective for school communities. It may be too much work for a single school to maintain social sites well. Neighboring schools, the school board or school district could use their platforms to serve as important resources for multiple schools. Information from county-wide platforms can be shared by schools easily. School boards with strong social media can act as an example and assist with social media training for their schools.
  • Connect your platforms and inform your community about them. If a school does use social media, they should be sure to communicate this clearly with their audience. On site and online promotion should consistently share that social media is a community resource. The school’s website should also include social media buttons and feeds for both Facebook and Twitter.

Too often many assume that social media is strictly for individuals or large-scale marketing. In reality, community officials and public departments should be the priority social media users, strictly due to the immediate access the platform gives to their constituents. Considering recent tragic events and the number of parents and teens already on social media, public schools are certainly no exception. Setting up school social media policies early, before something happens, will ensure you are prepared to handle what comes your way.

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