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We’ve all seen it… teenagers texting, tweeting, facebooking whilst sitting next to each other.  In short… the art of conversation is changing and becoming digital.

To make sure you are communicating with students, parents, alumni and future students, in the language their now speaking… we’ve prepared a short list of things to consider when planning your social media activity:

  1. Don’t be tempted to sign up to all social media platforms straight away. Consider your audience. It’s unlikely that pupils will be interested in LinkedIn, but, Facebook and Twitter are right up their street.
  2. Plan ahead. Like any marketing activity, it’s best to have a plan in place. Plan in messages/tweets ahead of time for things that you already know will happen, open days, parents evenings and school trips etc. Then, add meat to the bone with topical updates on a regular basis.
  3. Social media is a great way to engage with your audience and build a two way conversation. So, make sure you regularly monitor messages that you receive and, if necessary, respond to them in a timely fashion. You wouldn’t leave it days or weeks to return an email, why would you for a tweet?
  4. Let people know you’re on Twitter, Facebook etc. There’s no point in going to the effort of frequent messaging if no-one reads them. So, start following people and groups, request friendships etc. Be pro-actvie.
  5. Create a school / college group on Facebook and add photographs, videos, information about upcoming events.
  6. Learn the lingo! Twitter has some specific terminology that once learned, allows you to really enhance your presence; @ – use this to publicly reply to a message; RT – this shows that a message has been ‘retweeted’ by another user; # (hashtag) – used to categorise tweets.
  7. Consider using sites like ‘Hootsuite’ that lets you see all of your social media networks in one location. You can also schedule messages / tweets and easily see who has sent you messages or tweeted about you.
  8. Lead the conversation. Don’t wait for people to start talking about you, create your own ‘buzz’, keep your eye on the media, what interests all of your audience streams, you might need different messages for different people, don’t be afraid to raise your head above the parapet.
  9. Get good news stories in front of people quickly.  Don’t be afraid to add in additional messages if you have something great to shout about. No matter how small it’s always nice to share positive stories. They will help shape the reputation of your school / college.
  10. And finally, please, don’t forget to review regularly and report on growth. Consider the number of followers you have, people who have ‘liked’ your page, joined your group, tweeted about you. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just regularly produced and analysed!