More and more schools are seeking to maximise the opportunity offered by through social media. Headteachers and parents tell us stories about brilliant engagement through social media all the time! So what's the secret? How do you make it really fizz? What are the dangers and the pitfalls?
This short article will hopefully give you just a little insight into why Social Media can achieve some brilliant results for you.
Why Social Media?
So why would we even both looking at social media and your school website as an way of engaging your community? Well the vast majority of parents use a smartphone (plus a tablet!) and also have some form of social media account. It might well be Facebook or Twitter, largely depending on the demographics and an individual's use of each, but the audience is there!
There are things to consider from a safety point of view and we'll get to that when we talk briefly about training; but given the sheer number of people using the likes of Twitter, the opportunity shouldn't be completely ignored.
That leads us on to which social network to choose. Time is precious and most schools simply don't have the resources to manage multiple networks effectively. The good news is that you can very easily use two key networks and link them to your website provision reasonably easily. Depending on the technology at your disposal, this could be incredibly easy!
The network we'd most strongly recommend is Twitter. More and more schools use Twitter as a way of sharing great news regularly. It's also brilliant for alerting parents of key information and dripping important information out into the community.
Another social network that many, many schools are using is YouTube. (Yes it is a social network!) Schools have a brilliant opportunity to share content and the amazing things going on in the life of school through YouTube videos. There's safety considerations but a bit of training (see below) can make this safe and hugely effective!
Using Social Media and Your School Website
Setting up a Twitter account takes just a moment but one of the most valuable things you can do is tying your website and social content together. Think of them of an extension of one-another but remember they meet different needs.
So, adding links to your tweets is easy and a great way to pushing users towards your website. Adding images brings the content to life and using relevant hashtags within your tweets will expand your audience. Tagging followers in key content will have a huge impact if you do it regularly and reliable (and carefully!) Engaging with users through Twitter is a great way to encourage more and more interaction and drive more traffic to your website
But they are very much separate entities.
Your website is the hub of all your key online content. It is where prospective parents first visit your school and where Inspectors will go as a first port of call before a visit. It really is the most powerful tool you have to engage your entire school community effectively. Your audience will spend time on your website reading your content if it is relevant and engaging.
Your social channels are there to reach your audience where they are instantly. By linking the two, you can create a powerful, effective partnership that can work in two ways. As a way of you reaching your audience, firstly. But also as a way of your audience reaching you.
That's why tying social media and your school website together is vital.
Your website technology will allow you to embed Twitter feeds directly alongside your website content. That's really important. It adds an immediate synergy between your two primary online channels. But maybe it could go further than that!
What if you could add a News article to your website and write a Tweet all in the same piece of software? That would make it easier to align your efforts to engage your community powerfully. The Schudio School Website software gives you some options here and it is something we're continuing to develop to tie your website, your social channels and of course the Schudio School App together.
Online technology is all about making it easier for maximum penetration. To be able to share your information as far and wide as possible, so that it reaches as many people as possible, with as little effort on your part as possible. That's our job and that's why the Schudio School Website software never stops evolving. If you're a website client of ours then you'll know how much you benefit from regular software updates at zero additional cost!
To really harness the power of social media and your school website it is vital to get some expert help to really make the most of the opportunity. We regularly run expert led sessions on Social Media for Schools that are open to all. It's a hugely helpful session if you're just getting started with using social media and you school website. It covers the safety concerns, introductions to key networks, meeting the needs of your audience. We also celebrate some of the very best examples of schools around the UK using social media and their school websites powerfully and enormously effectively.
We'd love to hear how about the brilliant things that you do through social media and your school website so please leave us a comment and we'll be sure to get back in touch with you. Or share this article if you think it would be helpful with other schools that you know!