May 15, 2020 Chiara

Why Social Media is Important for A School—Now More Than Ever

Regardless of whether your school has a meticulously curated posting schedule across five platforms or a single Instagram account that was left to collect figurative dust for the entirety of last year, it would be hard to deny that social media for schools has become a communication lifeline in the time of Covid-19. 

To illustrate, we have compiled a list of reasons why an engaging social media profile, an excellent resource at any time, is particularly crucial for schools in the midst of this pandemic.  

Sharing Key Information and Covid-19 Updates

You’re undoubtedly doing this already, but there are always additional ways to improve your communications and ensure that your school’s families are not left in the lurch. Facebook and Instagram posts or tweets can convey your regular updates, online events, and other interesting initiatives. Simultaneously, it’s important to have all your Covid-19 strategy information in one, easily-accessible place, where it won’t get lost amid other updates. Adding features to your website is an easy way to accomplish this. Some schools have simply opted to create a page with links to all of their previous statements or emails, but a more user-friendly structure would be to address academic, wellbeing and off-campus life concerns on one page, outlining your basic strategy and including relevant links below. We particularly love to see FAQ sections which address the realistic concerns parents may voice—How will my child continue to learn? How can they do so without spending sixteen hours a day in front of a screen?—and offer thoughtful responses. 

Documenting Your Approach to Online Learning

The precise direction of the epidemiological curve is uncertain. Although we all hope for a rapid return to normalcy, the possibility of resurgences and future school closures must be considered. As such, it’s important to establish confidence in your online learning approach now, so your entire community of teachers, students and parents will feel more at ease confronting possible future obstacles. Sharing videos of online classes, such as a screencast of students collaborating on a virtual whiteboard, is one means of documenting your approach, but there are a slew of other creative ways to achieve this:

  • Social Media Contests and Challenges: Create some engagement and buzz on your social media platforms. Make them fun while encouraging children to learn valuable life skills that don’t include intensively looking at a screen. Here are some ideas: cooking contests, gardening challenges and recycling challenges. 
  • Blogs: They’re both informative and personable! Institutions like Hong Kong’s Harbour school are sharing their reactions to online teaching as well as tips for parents 
  • Seesaw: this application can be used to collect classwork in an online portfolio, connecting students and teachers more creatively, but it also gives access to parents. By sharing a child’s most creative projects, you familiarise them with the sort of work produced in a digital classroom 
  • Parent testimonies: guaranteed to give your teachers a little boost of encouragement, reassurance that your school is adapting well to online instruction can also come from parent comments, such as these warm praises from Branksome Hall parents that the school shared recently on Facebook 

Keeping Your Community Connected

Class is not the only thing students are missing now. Assemblies, sports days, concerts, club activities—these are all invaluable elements of school culture. Social media for schools, if used creatively, can serve as a substitute to keep your community connected beyond academics. The digital spirit weeks that have been held across America these past couple of months are great sources of inspiration. This time-honored tradition, intended to represent unity and celebrate a school, is especially relevant at a moment of isolation, and has yielded a series of schoolwide hashtag challenges that could easily be repurposed for regular use. Some of our favorites include family fun day, favorite book day (with bonus points for reading out loud to a pet), and the create-a-school-meme challenge. All make ideal short videos or posts. To see this format adapted as a 30-day challenge, check out an idea for a community service grid

Choosing activities which align with existing school values or activities (for many schools, community service is a key one) adds extra purpose to your online connection with students. Alternatively, sports challenges like the Woodbridge School’s “125 miles for 125 years of our School House” keep those PE requirements from falling to the wayside. 

New Student Intake

  • With open houses and firm handshakes no longer appropriate means of recruiting students, it’s necessary to brainstorm creative digital equivalents. Moreover, using online tools is more of a key selling point than ever, with prospective parents eager to know that you’ll be an effective communicator should schools unexpectedly close their doors again next year. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to demonstrate this! If you have the infrastructure in place, virtual tours are a great way of showcasing the environment you’ve built. For the many schools that have not already embraced this, however, it’s entirely possible to piece together a vision of your institution from existing footage.

 For instance, sending out a call to students, parents and staff for clips from school events would give the video a personal touch. Nevertheless, ensuring the final product remains visually clean and professional is essential. For this reason, our video editors are working to help schools produce high-quality promotional material, digital how-to guides for educational tools, and more. Regardless of the restrictions we may or may not have in the coming months, schools should be taking full advantage of social media and video advertising. It doesn’t take a lot of work (for a skilled team) and has huge benefits, both short-term and long-term, for a school. Word of mouth is now online or is being ‘backed up’ online. People are researching a school’s websites, reviews and social media. Even if they’re given a recommendation for a school, they’ll still do their own investigative research (online) to verify that recommendation. 

Moving beyond visual impressions, connecting with prospective families is still possible via virtual open houses on Zoom, as is putting new and existing students in touch via messengers. Similar to assigning a ‘buddy’ to a new student when they tour a campus in person, this is a way for students considering your school to hear firsthand how great it is from someone their own age.   

Lastly, remember that it isn’t necessary to constantly bombard your social media with recruitment posts. All the content you put out functions as recruitment material indirectly, as it showcases your administration’s character and offers a window into your normal operations. For instance, sharing snapshots from earlier in the term both brightens your students’ days and gives prospective attendees a sense of what your institution is like. Our team works together with schools to build a plan for social media content and blog schedules. Brainstorming events for the coming year, special days and more gives our team plenty of material to create an organised, engaging content plan.

Uplifting Others

Understandably, our time spent on social media is only increasing while stuck at home, yet the threat of being overwhelmed by impersonal swarms of information persists. Schools should ideally be places where students are exposed to meaningful knowledge and allowed to connect with their peers. Setting time aside to share uplifting news from your school community is one way to maintain that sentiment during stressful times like this pandemic, brightening a student’s social media with something that addresses them specifically. Schools like Highland in Virginia have taken to creating weekly videos that feature good news from the community and beyond, as well as student submissions like art, pet tricks and amusing haircuts. They’re not alone in this wholesome effort. Students and faculty at the British International School, Abu Dhabi recently made a video sharing what they were thankful for. The highlights: family, friends, medical and essential workers, and chocolate! 

We hope we’ve given you a better idea of why social media for schools is essential right now as a means of sharing information effectively, attracting new students and creating a support network for your learning community. To help you juggle the moving parts of an online presence, we offer social media management services to help give your students, parents, and other visitors the best possible experience of your school’s online platforms.   

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