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Getting the Message Out

by Terry Freedman on May 4, 2017

Many schools regard pupils’ use of social media with suspicion. However, social media, in the form of Twitter, Youtube and blogs especially, can be an excellent means of getting your message out, both to the world, and even to parents. For example, King Edward VI school in Bury-St-Edmund’s uses Twitter to get information out to parents. It publishes several updates a day. 

Some schools, such as the ones listed in the article, Good Morning! A.M. Announcements Build School Community (http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin351.shtml), and Worle School (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy3NjSsJoIyskNDKaCLUTPA) use YouTube to tell the world what they’re up to.

And, of course, many schools publish a regularly-updated blog.

It's obviously a good idea to keep parents 'in the loop', but if you use a product like Messenger, do you really need to bother with social media as well? After all, if you have something to tell them, why not simply text them? That at least has the benefit of actually reaching them directly.

Using text messaging and using social media are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can complement each other, because although they both serve to keep people informed, they are fundamentally different.

Use text messaging to get important messages to parents either about the school as a whole (“School will be closed tomorrow due to bad weather”) or individual pupils (“Freda achieved a score of 97% on her maths test this morning!”).

Use social media to let parents and the wider community know what the school is doing and planning, but which is not so urgent that you need to get the information directly to a parent’s phone (“Our local MP visited school yesterday and chatted to Year 4 children about their road safety project”).

Parents will no doubt be interested in news like that, but not so much so that they would welcome being interrupted by text messages — especially if you send out those kind of bulletins several times a day.

Indeed, if you did that there’s a good chance that parents would start to ignore your text messages, or decide to look at them only once they got home from work, which would remove the whole point of sending them. With social media, parents can choose to look at tweets and blogs as and when it’s convenient, and it won’t matter if they do so several hours ‘late’.

Social media also has other advantages over text messaging when it comes to more general school news.

First, you can get the pupils involved. If you take time to look at some of the school news videos mentioned a moment ago, you’ll see that they involve kids as reporters. That’s a great learning experience, and if it’s something that takes off you might even consider getting involved in the BBC School News Report competition next year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolreport).

Secondly, you can model good use of social media. Kids these days are subjected to bullying, sexting and just plain nastiness online, which can give them (and their parents) a very jaundiced view of social media. By using Twitter etc responsibly, the school can demonstrate their positive aspects.

Thirdly, social media is a useful means of publicising the school’s achievements and other news, especially as so many people turn to social media for their news anyway. According to a report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 28% of people in the UK go to Facebook for news, and as you might expect, the figure is even higher (41%) for under 35s. The figures for Twitter are, respectively, 12% and 20%. (See http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2016/united-kingdom-2016/). Sending a press release to the local paper may still be useful, but the statistics suggest that the school needs a social media presence as well.

Finally, of course, using social media is a form of marketing. It will help the school reach people whose children are not on the school roll — yet.

Topics: Communication, Social media, Groupcall Messenger