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Just like many professions and industries the education sector is very slowly coming around to using social media for communication and promotion – albeit the use is still not widespread.

We’ve written on the subject before – referring to the lack of social media communication at universities.

On reading this article in the Guardian (Social media: like the staffroom, but without all the negativity) written by a primary school teacher, it got us thinking that a crucial part of the transition to integrating social media into the everyday communications of a school, college or university is the staff actually being comfortable with the medium to start with.

We know millions of people use social media in everyday life – but millions still don’t use it at all. And of those that do use social media, most still see it only as a tool to share photos and information with friends and family – not as a tool for networking with likeminded people, or for marketing and promotion purposes, or to communicate with target audiences.

In her article, Kierna Corr, talks about how she finds Twitter a fantastic tool for networking with other teachers, for personal development and sharing ideas and best practices.

In particular, she says: “Social media has become a lifeline for me. I love that I can pose a question or retweet someone else’s query on Twitter and within minutes have lots of helpful answers. Meeting up online through Twitter, online seminars or eTwinning and exchanging ideas and good practice has gone some way to filling the void that the lack of more traditional forms of CPD, such as courses, has left.”

But as she points out: “Many schools frown upon teachers using some, if not all, social media sites.”

If schools and colleges are to frown upon their teachers using social media for personal development, then how can they implement social media strategies into the organisation for marketing purposes?

Chief among their concerns is, as ever, the misuse of social media – will they tweet inappropriately, will messages be misinterpreted, will it get out of control?

Teachers are employed to teach our children – one of the biggest responsibilities you can have – surely they can be trusted to use social media in a responsible way?

There is no reason why, with a robust social media strategy and guidelines, all key members of staff can’t get involved in posting to Facebook or Tweeting to promote the school or college. The schools, colleges and universities that are using social media positively are those that have management and principals with open minds about social media and are actively championing the cause.

As Corr says, there are some simple guidelines you can set yourself: “Always remember to never type anything you wouldn’t be prepared to say in person and allow at least 10 minutes thinking time before you storm into any controversial conversations.”

However, it would be a shame to see so many institutions miss the fantastic opportunities social media presents in breaking down barriers, giving wider access to information and communication on the basis they are ‘not comfortable’ with social media as a medium.

Related posts:

How can you make sure you uni is up to scratch: Social media best practice for universities

Social Media in School