Social media offers a wide range of tools to allow schools and districts to communicate with their stakeholders in engaging ways. The majority of parents are at least casual users of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, making these platforms highly effective for delivering your key messages and telling your school district’s story.

The following are eight tips for making the most effective use of social media in the education world:

  1. Maintain your school district’s vision: Everything you post on social media should fit within the vision and “brand” you have established for your school district. The posts should take a somewhat professional tone and the content should have a purpose. Some of the posts will be practical (such as event invitations), while others may display the values of your schools in action.
  1. Keep the conversation going: When parents or community members have questions, respond to them. However, don’t feel like you must answer everything immediately (or even at all), especially if you are getting a lot of comments on your posts. Other parents or community members often step in and answer some questions when they arise.
  1. Don’t focus on negative energy: If you have ever spent any time reading comments on social media platforms or news stories, you know there are always going to be people who do not have anything positive to say. Don’t let this get you down, as the majority of interactions you have are likely to be positive.
  1. Make sure everyone with access is trained: Anyone who has administrative or editorial access to your social media accounts should have a clear understanding of how to use them, what your expectations are and what sort of posts are or are not allowed. They should also understand the language they should be using and avoid PR speak.
  1. Have a plan: Before you even begin posting, you should know everyone who will have access, what your specific goals are with social media and how frequently you should post on each channel.
  1. Have an emergency plan: If something goes wrong at your schools, you need to be prepared to address the issue appropriately on social media. Spend some time going through emergency scenarios and how you should respond. A communication professional can help you develop this plan and assist in a crisis situation.
  1. Don’t overthink it: Any time you make a post on social media, it’s understandable to feel nervous that you’ll be ignored, rejected or simply say the wrong thing. Don’t overthink your social media—you’re using it to start genuine conversations and disseminate important or interesting district information. There are opportunities to strengthen relationships with your community or rally support when you need it.
  1. Learn from your followers: Social media is a great way to learn exactly what your school district’s parents and community members are thinking. You can use it to conduct polls, ask for direct opinions or get a better understanding of the biggest areas of interest or concern on the part of your followers.

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to creating an effective and engaging social media strategy for your school or district.