Schools can benefit from the use of social networking sites being an integral part of their school marketing plan and its associated strategies.
It is best for this to be appropriate, and most times creative. Increasingly, this form of communication is becoming more obvious for schools. A special note is to be aware of all the privacy and legal issues!
We are challenged to meet our school community, and potential parents and students, where they are at, or might be, in the near future. The social networking tentacles are reaching further into the various demographics affecting our communities, often way beyond the awareness of school and systemic leaders. No longer is it just the teens and '20 something', it is now common for people in their 50s and 60s to have one or more social networking accounts.
The misconception is that this form of communication is just used for inane chat amongst 'dizzy lightweights'!
There is a considerably large and ever growing group of people who use this for much more than chat, even though legitimate chat does play an important part in many forms of communication.
These people are not only building and strengthening relationships amongst friends and newly formed acquaintances / friends through their engagement online with each other and often doing so simultaneously, they may also be adding depth to key aspects of their lives.
Assumptions Underlying Social Networking Websites?
There are a number of interesting assumptions an ever expanding group of people of the 21st century make, with representatives being in most age groups, :
• People like to build trusting relationships with others before doing 'business' (Schools need to be open to appreciating this belief and then adapting the way they communicate with such people.)
• The busyness of life often limits face-to-face opportunities
• The relationship does not need to be a face-to-face encounter, even though this is often preferred
• 'anonymity' allows for a less inhibited sharing of ideas and thoughts. (Easier for some people to make a comment when the contact person isn't actually in front of them. Similar for some people when using telephones or email.)
• The internet often provides the answers people are seeking (How often do you hear more and more, "Google / Yahoo / Bing / MSN it!")
• Digital communication is the easiest and quickest means of communication
• Digital communication allows for multiple conversations simultaneously
• People using these forms of communication eventually trust in the results due to their experiences of it.
Why Consider Social Networking Websites?
To reach this ever growing group of people in our communities we must meet them where they are at!
In many circumstances, this may not be your chosen form of communication. But you do have control over who sees and comments on your school / alumni social networking pages if you follow the security directions. You may limit membership to only the direct school community or past students and hence only these people will see what you say and show.
It is, however, a successful method of informing an ever growing group of your community of whatever it is you would like to inform them about.
Topics which could be included on a school social networking site:
• School and Contact Details
• News from the Principal, Parish Priest (if a religious school) and Responses from the school community
• News about and Responses
• Upcoming School Events
• School Photos telling of the recent events / successes / happenings, etc.
• Principal Recommended Websites for the school community
Social networking sites can be used effectively by schools. Once a number of challenges, misconceptions and assumptions underlying social networking sites are initially explored, each school will be able to make the decision whether to proceed with a social networking webpage.
The 'Schools Need Social Networking Websites' blog post was written by Bryan Foster
, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed)
(2011) - the paperback and ebook manual for school communications and marketing
personnel - 340 pages of easy to read and implement summarized
points - allowing for a considerably large number of quality strategies and examples to be
detailed - with copyright
. Book available from Amazon.com