By Graham Hodgson, founder of ciobureau
Every principal or head wants their school to be recognised as one of the best in their local community and many use a website for that purpose.
It is a way of celebrating achievements; delivering transparency in regard to your latest Ofstead report; and marketing your educational faculty to parents of potential students, the students themselves, or as a means of attracting the best teaching talent available.
A recent survey by Edutech found that numerous UK educational establishments had poorly designed websites, with many not optimised to work on smartphones or tablets (the method increasingly used by parents and students to find information). Infrequently updated content, with old designs, was common and many also lacked any clear social media strategy.
- Make sure you have an adaptive website that automatically adjusts to the many different screen sizes of PCs, Macs, ChromeBooks, tablets and smartphones.
- Make sure you update content regularly and notify all updates to your official social media channels.
- Keep up-to-date with social media trends and ensure you have a social media strategy for you and your staff. Try to avoid personal accounts for official comment and ensure students are aware of the risks and opportunities of social media use.
- As a minimum, operate a Twitter account (useful for urgent messages to parents and students, for example during closures due to bad weather – can be used for general updates) and have an “official” FaceBook page.
- Control the message. Make sure you only let approved users access the social media tools. Post at least a few times each week and make the content relevant, engaging and use photos and videos if possible. Do not skimp on the frequency or quality of the message.
- Use two factor authentication for all your social media channels to avoid them being hacked or hijacked for “unauthorised publishing”
- Consider establishing an “official” YouTube channel to provide video content to students and parents. This can be recordings of lectures or guided tours of the facilities. Video does not have to be expensive, complicated or challenging, but it does have to be professional. For example, very professional videos can be recorded, edited and uploaded from an iPAD or even an iPhone. What matters is the professionalism of the person recording the content, how it is filmed and how it is edited, not the tools used to create the content.
- Collect email addresses and mobile numbers for all students and parents (if available and willing to provide them). These can be used for personalised updates throughout the term, by email and SMS.
- Promote good results, exceptional students and awards as regularly as possible. Create a community of interest with students, parents and the governors.
- Monitor social media channels to be aware of comments about your educational faculty, the staff, cyber bullying, or other issues. Do not become the only person who is disintermediated from the real conversations. Better to know about concerns, bad comment or other issues and respond accordingly than live in ignorance.
Much of the above you may already be doing, or it may seem daunting. Help is here if you need advice or guidance on managing the message in a rapidly moving digital social media empowered world.