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It’s a mystery to me why schools are bothering to teach children about the benefits and dangers of social media when the majority of schools are not modelling positive, proactive social behaviours on their own platforms.

A lot of school social platforms are run by parents, with no input from schools. There is no strategy, no risk management guidelines, no policies, no governance, no permissions put in place. Quite a number of them do little to promote the school and focus on promoting local businesses and other random activities.

This is not to denigrate the efforts of the parents involved. Not at all. However, no matter how good your intentions, it is hard to kick goals when you don’t know where the goalposts are.

It’s a very easy thing to fix. Implementing a strategy and governance system that incorporates all the above can be done in a remarkably short period of time. And without sacrificing the goodwill of the parents involved.

A properly implemented social approach allows schools to showcase their brand, their students, their curriculum, their achievements and their community involvement. It also allows schools to interact and communicate about other less ‘curriculum based’ things which matter to the school community. It allows for parents and families to see what is going on and to share it among their networks as well.

I recently worked with a faith based girls school, who were keen to put in clear parameters for their social approach. They wanted to be able to celebrate their students, but in a manner which they reflected their expectations of their students online behaviours.

They now have in place a social approach which allows them to run their platforms, still fully supported by parents and volunteers. However, they have an overall structure in which the school retains control of the social assets and is now run in a way that supports their overall objectives for each year.

What’s improved?

Overall it’s been a very positive experience! The school has seen

  • An uptake in parental knowledge about school activities
  • Increased attendance at community events they hold
  • An increase in their fundraising
  • A greater knowledge among the students about what their fellow students are doing.

Since they implemented it last year, they have also been audited randomly by KPMG. The audit found that out of all the schools they reviewed, this school was the only one with established protocols around strategy, privacy, assets, governance, risk management, content creation and community management. They also found that their social platforms were properly aligned with their more traditional communication methods and their website, ensuring that the opportunities for fluid, timely communication between the school management and the school community were greatly enhanced.

Not bad at all for a school that ‘wanted to sort out their Facebook and stuff.’

The great thing about a properly implemented social approach is that you don’t need to worry about the statistically slim chance of people being negative on your platforms. This is because you already have all the procedures in place to manage it in an appropriate, considered manner that solves the problem even before it starts.

With children today being digital natives, it makes sense for schools to up-skill themselves to stay abreast of the opportunity that living in a digital age affords them.

Which is to create an online community that is truly reflective of their offline community.

Because truth is, they should be one and the same in 2017.