Saturday, 14 May 2011

Using Social Networking Platforms as part of a School's Communication Strategy

Schools always have been places where people come together, they always have provided a social focus for the community of parents and they always have been a hot topic on the dinner-party circuit.
Social networking platforms enable schools to continue to be a focus for shaping new communities and for bringing people together. They are fundamentally about communication and community. They are as much about listening as speaking. Not only can they provide new ways in which a school can provide up to date information about the school for parents and important ways to keep in touch with former pupils, but also they are a way to listen to these groups too. Social networking platforms a cost-effective way in which schools can extend their communication and marketing reach by “pushing” relevant information to parents and getting feedback from them.

It is not possible to set up a Facebook account for a school, but a school can set up a Facebook Group and a Facebook Page. A school Facebook Group enables anyone who is interested to keep in touch as part of their daily social networking activity. A Facebook Page operates rather like any commercial page. It is possible to have an official link [e.g. www.] and this can provide a more formal platform for the school and members of the group to publish relevant announcements, news stories, pictures and invitations to school events, such as Alumni reunions.

Twitter provides an excellent information platform for schools. What is attractive about Twitter is that it is a much less invasive way of publishing information than, say, sending an email or a text. It lends itself to “pushing out” non-urgent or less important information; and thus is a very effective means of sending a gentle reminder to parents or publishing daily good news stories about the school. Twitter allows only 140 characters, which is enough to post to give the gist of a story, and it is possible to post a link to a full version of the story on the School Website. Parents can pick up school “tweets” either on their mobile phones or on their computers, at their convenience and then follow any links to the school website if they want further information. Some schools have taken the step of embedding their Twitter feed into their school website.

It is possible to set up a school Twitter account [www.]. It is possible to set up multiple Twitter accounts for a school, so news can be targeted to key groups [such as, or to]. Twitter not only can be run from a PC/Mac, but it is also available as an App so it is possible to “tweet” updates live, say, with results from a major sports tournament.

The best way to manage multiple Twitter accounts is to use Tweetdeck, which is available both for PC/Mac and mobile devices. This program allows you to be logged in to more than one Twitter account at the same time and to post the same “tweet” to more than one account. It also makes the task of monitoring school Twitter accounts very straight-forward. In short it will save schools an enormous amount of time.

Joining LinkedIn is the Internet equivalent of exchanging a business card. It is probably the most important social-networking site for business people. LinkedIn has many of the features of Facebook (e.g. it has groups and it is possible to post to a wall and to send messages) but users tend not to post trivia about their private life. Schools will probably find a LinkedIn presence useful in terms of keeping in touch with both parents and Alumni. It is possible to set up a LinkedIn Group for your school and thus to send out news and information. LinkedIn has an excellent App for the iPhone.

This blogpost is the basis for an article 'Using Social and Digital Media as part of your School Marketing, Communication and PR Strategies' that will be published in the ISC Bulletin later this term.

1 comment:

  1. ...and post to Twitter by SMS, of course, from almost anywhere using any mobile.