Social Media IS for Schools – It’s easier than you think, and worth the effort!

“The closest our school ever gets to talking about social media is during e-safety week…”

Does this sound familiar? Schools play a vital role in keeping children safe online, but observing this can sometimes be a justification for avoiding the online world altogether, other than maintaining a basic website. This is hardly surprising given the demands on a school leader’s time – learning the nuances of digital marketing is never going to be top of the to-do list!

However, many schools are discovering the power that social media has for communicating with parents, and enhancing their reputation within this community and beyond.

Why bother?

89% of the adult population in the UK are online[1], most schools communicate with parents electronically, and it is accepted that the website is where people will go first to look at your school. Social media use has also exploded[2]

  • 83% of the adult population in the UK use social media
  • 79% of these adults use Facebook, 47% Twitter and 41% are on Instagram.
  • Around half of these users check in more than once a day.

This is where your audience is already, so using social media gives your school an instant platform to talk to them, and equally importantly, (given per-pupil funding) social media can put you in front of potential future parents everyday, rather than just at the annual open day.

A school using social media well can use it to demonstrate their mission, vision and personality. It could even be a springboard to establishing your school and its leaders as experts in a particular field.

And as social media isn’t a one-way street, it is also great for keeping your finger on the pulse of your local neighbourhood – making connections and finding opportunities to get involved.

Think of it as a live, interactive newsletter.

But there is no time!

I can hear the frustration! Few teachers or school leaders have the expertise or the time to run a social media account.

Often schools that dip their toe in start with good intentions and then momentum drops as other tasks crowd in. It is fair to say that an out of date social media account is almost worse than none at all.

Schools also lack the budget to pay for a professional. Although given the potential pay off of an increased profile leading to a rise in first choice applications, it may be something for larger schools or Multi Academy Trusts to consider putting some money behind.

Making a success of social media yourself, however, is easier than you might think…

5 Steps To Social Media Success

  1. Incorporate safe social media use into your online safety policy. GDPR rules mean that you need to have prior consent for pupils to appear on your social media platforms.
  • Work out what your aim is, what you want to say, and who to. This will help you decide which platform(s) you use. If this is your first social media account, I would recommend Twitter or Facebook. Remember it is better to concentrate on doing one platform well, than doing a rush job on two or three.
  • Get the basics right – first impressions count. On your profile page make sure your pictures and logo are good quality and that they fit within the space. Write a succinct description of your school, and make sure the links work.
  • Start posting! School news, events, pupil achievements, great lessons… Pictures and videos work better than text, and there are some simple free tools that help you create graphics to make your posts more eye-catching.
  • Add value by posting interesting articles and advice from trusted third parties (parenting advice, revision tips etc), news and local events. Make your social media platform a source of helpful information to your audience.

If you have bigger ambitions or a marketing budget, you could outsource this work. A social media manager can help with anything from writing your strategy, setting up your accounts, or full on day-to-day management.

However you decide to do it, don’t be afraid to get involved – your school’s profile could soar.

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Dos and Don’ts

  • DO make sure a school leader retains oversight of the school’s social media account(s).
  • DO Post regularly:
    • Facebook – 3 times a week
    • Twitter – once a day
    • Instagram – 4 times a week
  • DON’T get opinionated and political.
  • DO make sure your social media accounts are monitored regularly for comments and respond quickly.
  • DON’T get involved in parent/community disputes. Take any conversations like this offline as soon as possible
  • DO use scheduling tools to plan and post up to a week or two in advance.

[1] Source: Flint, Social Media Demographics 2018

[2] Source: Flint, Social Media Demographics 2018[2]