- Are you a head teacher?
- Are you active on Twitter and Facebook?
With social media impacting on so many people’s lives, to merely treat it as an afterthought could seriously damage your school’s reputation, especially if you’re looking to attract sixth form pupils.
The question is, which social media platform should you use and how should you use it?
Facebook in particular should be exploited for use as an interactive brochure or window into life at your school. So much more interesting than a prospectus! Through videos, pictures, commentary and documents you can promote your school’s:
- Exam results
- Introduce yourself and your teachers
- Show examples of your school’s teaching style
- List, describe or show what a typical day at your school might be like
- Share your students’ school experiences from trips and lessons to extra curricular activities.
Videos and pictures are particularly effective at letting prospective and current parents know how happy your students are and how much they enjoy some of the more fun elements of their schooling. By posting these on Facebook you are promoting your school in a more informal, believable way. Facebook also allows students and other Facebook viewers to comment on posts creating discussion and interaction. You are then no longer just viewed as a name or position, you are a real person who anyone can approach to discuss or ask questions about the school.
Facebook also allows you to add apps to your homepage (those buttons you see at the top of a Facebook page) which encourage even more interaction with the school such as pupil competitions, interactive exercises and subscribing or downloading of the school newsletters.
Facebook is increasingly proving popular with schools for acting as a platform for notifications e.g. weather alerts and for interaction between parents and their children during lengthy school trips away from home. For the latter you can even have off-shoot pages specific to a particular year group or trip. By initiating a school-backed Facebook page you in turn also control the content and the direction discussions or posts may go in. See both JFS and Mill Hill School for examples of schools who are already using Facebook to promote their schools.
Twitter is great for personal branding e.g. your personal views of the Head Teacher separate from your school (See Kevin Fear’s Twitter feed). Twitter allows parents to talk to you and other members of the school more directly. The short term nature and words limits of twitter mean that both queries and their replies always have to be concise and to the point. You also have the opportunity to tweet to all your followers (those interested in you and the school) with school-wide announcements or praise for any school achievements. Through twitter, you can engage with other influencers, raising important issues affecting you school and also in turn raising your and your school’s profile amongst your followers. See Woodcote High for an example of how one school in Surrey is using twitter to promote their school.
Always remember that as you hold a position of trust and responsibility to children in your care it is important that you think of the implications of any communication or posts your make through social media. Informing all staff members of the schools’ internet communication policy/rules will highlight what is and isn’t acceptable as well reminding teachers to consider the effects of their Facebook posts or tweets.