Is your school on Facebook and Twitter? The answer is yes. It just depends whether you’re controlling the message or not.
Social networks are changing the way schools communicate. Whether it’s student discussions, teacher/pupil or teacher/parent communication, there are a myriad of ways social networks are now affecting education.
Schools have had to develop new policies to deal with these new ways of interacting both internally and externally, and in many areas we still lag behind. Some schools I work with are still discussing whether or not they should be using Facebook, and Twitter, and if so which ones. The truth is that whether your school chooses to have an online presence or not aspects of your organisation are leaking into the online world out of your control.
Whether it’s status updates from students and parents, press articles, comments from teachers, or photos from school events, it all has an effect on your school’s public image. It’s out there happening now, you can’t stop it, and the only solution is to be involved in it.
A friend’s company had an issue. If you search the name of their business on Google the first link to appear was their company website, but the second was a strongly worded complaint from a customer. The same could be true of your school, have you Google’d your school’s name recently? Do you know what people are saying, or more importantly reading, about your school?
The only solution is to engage and manage your message. Many schools don’t want to address this, but as uncomfortable as it may feel, you do have a brand that needs managing both online and off. Create positive content on your website and social network accounts. Make sure that when prospective parents search for information on your school they’re bombarded with informative and positive information.
There are services which you can use to manage your online presence, but at the most basic level use Google Alerts and products like Hootsuite to keep up to date with what people are saying about you. Make someone in your school responsible for your online presence. This shouldn’t be something that the most tech savvy teacher does because they “do Facebook.” It should be a school wide policy understood and supported by senior management.
Over to you, is your school on Facebook and Twitter? How do you manage your online presence?