Communication: How to run your school’s social media

Written by: Stephen James | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Many schools are now using social media to reach out and engage with their parents, carers and wider communities. Stephen James offers his ‘how-to’ for running your school’s social media effectively


With more than 2.7 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 21 million tweets being posted every minute, 66,000 pictures uploaded to Instagram every second, social media has become a huge part of modern society and organisations are increasingly using it to engage with their communities.


Strategic aims of your school’s social media accounts

The first thing to consider when running your school’s social media and when creating your social media policy is what you want to use the accounts for. What are your strategic aims? These can often fall into several interlinking categories, but here are the main ones that I come across:

  • To showcase learning.
  • To highlight important curriculum areas.
  • To promote school values or religious values.
  • To promote PTA events and/or fundraising.
  • To create an alternative from the formalities of school letters/newsletters.
  • To show the “lighter side” of school life.
  • Recruitment.
  • Because school community engagement is on the School Improvement Plan.


Research your school community

Researching your school community can be as easy as speaking to parents on the school gate, asking the PTA for feedback, or undertaking a formal survey through your normal school communication protocols.

Generally speaking, most parents, governors and friends of the school will be using Facebook. However, it is worth noting that an increasingly larger number of younger parents are on Instagram.

Thinking more widely about your school community and your place in the local/global community, including your role as a hub of best practice, then linking with other professionals is more likely to occur on Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, if you are just starting out – Facebook and Twitter are perfect for coverage of your school community.


Setting up your accounts

The first thing that you might like to do is a social media audit. It might be that a previous member of staff has set up an account which is now dormant. Or you may even have some unofficial accounts set up by “helpful” parents or alumni.

Twitter is fairly straight-forward – you just supply an email address and phone number (usually that of your designated social media manager). You can then populate the platform with your school logo and start tweeting, following and retweeting.

Setting up Facebook is slightly more in-depth and requires the creation of a page (not group). You can also add settings that allow you to moderate comments, add profanity filters, and various contact details. It is normal for this page to be linked to a “personal” Facebook account. Although this can make staff uneasy, is not as scary as it sounds and is crucial when running your school’s social media accounts.


Your school’s social media manager

If you are going to manage your social media in house, there are several skills needed.

  • Technical know-how.
  • Communications skills (especially written).
  • Strategic vision to promote your school “brand”.

It is important that your social media manager has the time to create engaging and exciting content, as well as to monitor the comments and replies to the posts. This requirement makes it difficult for a teacher to take on the role.

Many schools use members of the office team to manage the school’s account. However, unless posting to social media is well embedded in their workflow, it tends to be one of those jobs that can get left until the last minute. The danger of this is that content is then often rushed and this can risk damaging the school brand.


How often should you post?

When running your school’s social media accounts, you should aim for a certain amount of synergy between your different accounts. You do not want to post too much that your school community gets apathetic, but you do not want to leave it so long that they forget about you.

As a rule of thumb, I would post once or twice a day on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, whereas on Twitter, I would post or retweet four to five times per day.

You may want to consider scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. These allow you to pre-programme posts. This can save time and ensure that your posts are spread evenly over a week or a month.


Content

Your social media profiles are a window into your school and what makes it special. You are in complete control of this narrative and can portray your school however you want. It is important to highlight the word “social” in social media. It should not just be a stuffy rehashing of your school newsletter or posts about nits in class R! Do not be afraid to have some fun too. Here are some content ideas for your school’s social media profiles and links to examples.


Monitoring

Your school’s social media accounts should be monitored regularly, even if that is to just “like”, share or retweet something positive that has been said about your school. On Twitter, you need to build your following and this includes following others. Although this is a straight-forward job, it takes time. You will also need a member of staff (usually the headteacher or a member of the senior leadership team) monitoring your social media manager and ensure that they are acting within the strategic aims you have set out.


Safeguarding

As always, safeguarding children and staff is paramount. That means having clear policies on permissions to appear on social media from staff as well as students.

Among other things, this means ensuring that the set up does not allow the tagging of pictures and that parents are discouraged from using pupil names on posts. It is also recommended to have a member of staff (usually the headteacher or a member of the senior leadership team) monitoring social media for potential issues.


Conclusion

Well-managed and active social media platforms are a fantastic window into your school and are an engaging way of celebrating what is going on day-to-day as well as creating a sense of community. Social media accounts can be a “quick-win” in improving your school’s brand as well as an easy way to increase parental engagement.


This material is protected by MA Education Limited copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Comments
Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
 
Sign up Headteacher update Bulletin
About Us

Headteacher Update is the only magazine delivered directly to every primary school headteacher in the UK. It is published six times a year, at the beginning of each term and half-term, to keep headteachers up-to-date with everything going on in primary education.

Learn more about Headteacher update

Newsletter

Register to receive regular updates on primary education news delivered free to your inbox.