With an estimated 48% of adults in the U.S. having at least one social network profile, according to an April 2009 Harris Poll, social media and technology are changing the way society communicates. Instead of viewing the new advancements as something to contain, put off, or ignore, realize that these new tools are a way to interact with your community and allow your community to know your school in a positive, accurate way. Share these five social media myths with your reluctant administrators to dispel what may be deterring your administration from utilizing social media:
Myth 1: We lose control over the message. It is crucial for schools to share accurate information and messages that reflect their mission statements and unique philosophies. To take control of your messaging on social networks, designate a social media coordinator that you trust and that understands your mission to manage your online presence.
Myth 2: We don’t have the time or resources. Social networking does take some time to learn and manage (as do most new tools), but you have options to make it more efficient, including outsourcing or hiring a professional to manage the effort.
Myth 3: Only students and Generation Y are active social media users. This is far from the truth. The number of users on Facebook ages 35 -55 has grown 190.2% from January to June 2009, according to iStrategyLab. Parents, prospective families, current and potential donors, local media and your school’s community members are likely active on either Twitter or Facebook, or both. Rather than risking your news getting caught in email spam or tossed in the trash, communicate directly with your community online.
Myth 4: Students’ privacy will be violated. Rather than focus on individual students and their every move, post information about the school. Topics can include information about admissions, the school’s mission, links to educational articles that provide value to your community, links to press coverage about your school, sports and activities schedules, major announcements, and acknowledgement of volunteers and supporters.
Myth 5: Negative comments. People will talk about your school whether your school is on social networks or not. With Twitter and Facebook, your school can more readily uncover concerns and resolve any issues immediately.
--Anne Carr is the Director of Accounts and Social Media at Bolt Public Relations (www.boltpr.com).