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As we mentioned in our article last month, there are many benefits to incorporating the world of social media into the everyday lives of schools, parents, teachers, and probably those most familiar with it, students.  It’s an incredibly powerful communication tool that educational establishments should be jumping at the chance to use.

Now…of course, as with anything online, there are going to be risks and things that one should be wary of.  The problem with the internet is that once something’s out there…it’s nearly impossible to get back.  If schools are going to be using social media sites to provide information (personal or general) on a regular basis then they need to know how to do it properly, professionally and successfully.

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Well, anyone can do ten tips so we’ve put together just eight…  we wanted to make things quicker and easier to get really, really right!

  1. Follow the leader.  First of all you need someone on hand, running the page.  Someone  who knows exactly what they’re doing.  It isn’t hard to get around things like Twitter and Facebook but it is important that, when people start to talk back to you, there is someone there listening and responding.  They need to be ready to provide all the answers and relevant information quickly and comprehensibly without jeopardising the school’s image or its relationships with parents and outsiders.
  2. Admins. It’s worth having more than one person in control as content should be updated regularly.  Don’t stick all your eggs in one basket.  Make sure you have two or three people contributing and it’ll be a lot easier to keep things populated and responded to.
  3. Protecting the students.  Before introducing a Facebook or Twitter page, a school must ensure they’ve thought through the types of content they’re planning on sharing with the world.  Consent must be obtained from a child’s guardian before any information is shared (this includes pictures, videos, first names, work samples etc.), as well as avoiding sharing surnames as this could potentially put them at risk (and in some cases is actually illegal).  We don’t want to teach you to suck eggs about things like this but it is important not to get too carried away.  Start small and build from there.
  4. Sorry, yet more security.  Once a page is set up, there are a few settings that should be considered to ensure it’s easy to monitor.  It’s a good idea to control what content users themselves are allowed to upload or share; start off by limiting these permissions; it’s better to become more permissive than more restrictive.
  5. Encourage others.  Make it known that your school has leapt online; the more people interacting the easier things become. Inform parents of the benefits of social media, and if need be, educate them so that they too can be fully involved.
  6. Age appropriate.  Facebook users have to be 13 +, therefore it would be inappropriate to use Facebook to directly communicate or inform pupils under 13.  However, it would still be highly beneficial to their parents or even used as a way of supporting senior-school trips, groups and classes.
  7. Be wary of specifics.  When posting about particular events, trips or occasions admins should be careful not to post too many details.  No doubt there will be child protection issues around revealing when and where pupils are going in public.
  8. Keep your eyes open.  Finally, it’s really worth planning things out and checking with others, before you publish things… just to make sure everyone agrees that it’s in line with what you want to achieve.  Feedback and monitoring are you two most valuable tools in making sure social media is doing what you need it to.

 Written by EC associate Katy Jones