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Top five social media tips for schools and trusts

Social media has revolutionised marketing for businesses and now it’s becoming a useful tool for schools and trusts. Having a Facebook or LinkedIn Page or a Twitter account means you have extra channels by which to demonstrate what’s unique about you and to communicate all the great things that are going on daily. It also allows you to get involved with any conversations that are already underway about you; but it takes time, thought and dedication. It’s a 2-way process meaning as well as pushing out communications you need to dedicate resources to respond to incoming messages.

A decision to set sail on the social media ship is not to be taken lightly. Whether you’re new to it or want to sharpen up your act, here are five top tips to help you on your way…

1. Work out what you are doing it for

Setting up a Twitter account and posting your first tweet is easy but what next? It’s worth sitting down before you get started to establish why you are doing it and exactly where you want to take it. Are you setting this up to build your reputation, to attract new staff, schools or parents, to provide an extra communication channel with your current parents or member academies or just because others are so you feel you ought to? Social Media must serve a purpose for you, or it won’t be sustainable. Speaking of which…

2. Start slowly

Social media can be a drain on your time so don’t try and do it all at once. Before launching on every channel available, work out which ones are going to be most effective and how much time you can afford to spend servicing them. Start one channel at a time and wire it up to your school or trust website to save time. Once you’re comfortable with the basics and want to get involved with more channels establish your ideal editorial calendar and investigate social media scheduling and management tools like Hootsuite.

3. Set up your communication rules in advance

Because social media is a direct publication, you need to know how it works, where your content goes to and who can talk about it. It is also essential that you set some context for your organisation's digital personality and tone of voice particular if there are a few of you managing the accounts. Before the communication floodgates are opened spend some time creating your digital communication rules. Responding to positive messaging is easy but how will you interact with conversation threads that are inaccurate or manage digital complaints? Whilst social media enables a greater control of digital communications about you, it is your reputation you’re putting out there so make sure your moderation-process is effective and matches you.

4. Harness the great story material around you to make sure your value shines through

News, pictures, clubs, success stories, school history, trips, teaching methodologies, testimonials, staffing updates, pupil quotes or videos of staff doing silly things; you have a wealth of content all around you that would interest your parents, create a buzz and help shape your reputation. Getting it out there framed in the right way could be powerful and vital to boosting perceptions about you.

5. Show a sense of humour and demonstrate a desire to talk

Websites and apps are brilliant for providing reach to your communications, but social media is amazing at allowing your parents and stakeholders to talk to you and for you to talk back in a thought out positive way. Use this media to strengthen relationships and connect on a more personal level with the people that matter to you.

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