Is your school using social media? If not, someone else is controlling your school’s image online!
As we grow our use of various social networks to share more useful information on school safety, I can’t help but notice how many school districts are not using social media. This includes districts that are not using them at all as well as those who are not using them effectively.
If your school does not have a Twitter and a Facebook account, go to each site and search for your school’s name. You can also do this by searching on Google (using a search query like this “Anytown High School Facebook”). While you might not find any distinct references to your school, you might be surprised to find one or more pages, groups, events or other type of post featuring your school in a negative light. As I search for districts that we have worked with in the past, I am finding lots of pages for other school districts that clearly do not have a presence on Facebook – and any page using those keywords automatically becomes the first search result.
While you can’t always control what people are going to do or say on social media, NOT having a well-monitored page on each of the most popular social media networks can be a big mistake in today’s electronic world.
Here are some other benefits of actively using social media for your educational organization:
- Use social media networks as a way of creating your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) to enrich your knowledge base on relevant topics (safety, curriculum, best practices, grant announcements, you name it and it’s on social media)
- Keep in touch with students, parents and the community – in day to day activities and during a crisis. While social media should not be your sole method of notification during a crisis, more and more people are relying solely on social media to get their information. I recently saw someone post on Facebook “I don’t believe it until I’ve confirmed it on Twitter!” and most government agencies at all levels now use Facebook as a method of emergency notification (as well as more mundane things like road closures and upcoming changes). In her book The Unthinkable, Amanda Ripley explains how some staff members in the World Trade Center on 9/11 made multiple phone calls and checked news websites before they evacuated the building because they wanted more confirmation before leaving. Getting crisis information out there in as many different venues as possible (your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is key to preventing panic among parents and the community. This can also be critical to directing parents and loved ones away from the school towards the location where students will actually be reunified with their families. Even minor safety incidents can sometimes create enough traffic to prevent first responders from properly carrying out their duties.
- Use it to keep your finger on the pulse of your school community. Whether you are at the district level or at the building level, there is no better way to find out what your students, community and even staff members think about the organization than social media networks.
The open board meetings of the past are now taking shape as discussion boards on social media sites (heated debate and language included). Take the initiative to address negative PR proactively instead of after the fact. In fact, just being on social media sites can help prevent a lot of negative publicity by giving people a way to let their voice be heard and create a dialogue with your organization that would not be possible without today’s technology. Don’t let your administration be the last ones to know when a video of a fight, inappropriate employee behavior or other illegal activity is going viral on the internet and making its way to the networks.
If you are new to social media, this article might help you better understand how these sites work and what can happen when you try to avoid the issue completely:
If you’re already using social media, follow us! We are posting unique content on each of these networks, so choose the one that suits your style.
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