Social media isn’t for everyone and one of the biggest hurdles you might have is getting staff and parent buy-in. Yes, you will have seen some negative stories in the press but these are rare and the vast majority of schools are active on Facebook and benefiting from the dynamic community a Facebook presence can bring.
It is invaluable to regularly revisit the purpose and strategy of social media plans. Part of that is making sure that staff and parents are on board. Building an effective community needs all members actively contributing to and benefiting from the school’s Facebook page.
Have an open discussion with parents and staff so that they can understand what’s going on and why.
Here are some possible questions you might be asked and some suggestions for answering them.
What are we going to use it for?
- It’s a free, easy and effective tool to celebrate the successes of the school, sharing stories, engage with the school community and post information that parents and carers will find useful.
- It’s a key part the marketing strategy. Parents and teachers research schools online, an active Facebook page, highlighted on the website and in print material, will boost the school’s visibility and reputation.
What is it going to cost?
- There is no set-up cost or ongoing fee, no money is paid to Facebook.
- The only cost is the time that people take posting to and administering the site.
- If you do want paid for options, Pay per click Facebook advertising is a powerful tool. It can be used to promote certain events or opportunities it can maximise audience reach.
How will we know if it’s working?
- A Google analytics dashboard demonstrates the number of users as well as the uplift in website visits that a Facebook post gives. Marketing will be comparing real time results with KPIs set in the marketing strategy.
- Hubspot have calculated that an active Facebook page results in a marked increase in parent and student engagement.
- Lively conversations happening on the Facebook page shows that the school community is engaging positively.
Are we promoting social media use to under-age users?
- No, Facebook is a communication tool used to engage with the school community.
- The school Facebook page is a positive example of social networking that helps students learn good online behaviour.
Don’t we risk getting negative or derogatory comments posted?
- Derogatory comments are rare but they will happen. The school will learn from them and respond constructively showing it is keen to solve negative situations.
- There is a clear policy for handling negative comments.
Will we be posting pictures and videos of the students? Isn’t this dangerous, how will it be managed?
- 60% of people are visual learners, it is important to have images on the Facebook page to give it traction.
- The school is very aware of its safeguarding duties and has a media policy which protects at-risk children and parents who have refused permission.
- A social media tick box has been added to the permission slip for parents.
- It is no more dangerous than students having their picture in printed media such as the prospectus.
Will it be difficult and time consuming to post and schedule updates?
- Basic text updates take seconds and are easy to do.
- Longer posts are part of a carefully scheduled marketing plan promoting the school to targeted audiences.
- Marketing can use an online scheduling tool which automates 24/7 Facebook activity.
Who will be looking after it? Will teachers have to spend time creating material?
- The Marketing Manager is responsible for the upkeep of the page.
- If teachers and/or students want to contribute that’s great, the actual posting will be done by marketing.
Do we risk having our data stolen and putting the community at risk?
- There are c.1.6 billion Facebook users, as of February 2019 Facebook claim that only 30 million have had data stolen; big numbers but a tiny percentage.
- It is possible but relatively rare and Facebook is tightening its security constantly.
- Community members have their own social network accounts and are no more at risk collaborating with the school Facebook page.
A well-structured social media strategy is important for a school. Give the community the opportunity to understand it and become part of it. Marketing will be spending less time scurrying around for posts and more time curating the posts offered by staff, parents and students.