Authors Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strauss write in their book Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online, “There’s a conversation about you online right this minute and you are probably unaware of its contents.” This truth extends to schools as well. We have constituents posting and talking about our schools online . In fact, because our constituent groups probably among the highest users of blogs, YouTube, and social media sites, we are perhaps even more likely to have people engaged in “conversations” about us online. That makes monitoring what our students, parents, teachers, community members are saying about us even more important.
While we can’t control what people say about us online, we can monitor it and perhaps proactively address it when it happens. In the book, What Every School Leader Needs to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, Will Richardson and Karl Fisch write, “Among the myriad duties most school administrators have is reputation management, keeping an ear to the ground to stay apprised of issues that concern their school community and intervening when necessary.” This task can be monumental considering the massive amount of information being published on the Web daily, but here’s 4 suggestions school leaders might use to keep at eye on what is being posted and published about their schools or districts online.
- Set Up Google Alert for Mentions of Your School or School District: Google Alerts is a simple, free tool from Google that allows you to monitor specific search words and have the results delivered to your email inbox or to your Google Reader. (Here’s help for those wanting to learn how to set up Google Alerts.) With Google Alerts you can monitor Web Content, News Items, Blogs, Video, and Groups at the same time. You simply enter the name of your school or district into the alert, and Google will deliver the results to your email inbox or to your Google Reader. In theory, if someone published an article or blog post that mentions your school or district, you will receive a link to that post and be able to review it yourself.
- Use Google Search to Capture Key Words Related to Your District and Subscribe to That Search as RSS Feed: This strategy works in much the same way Google Alerts does, but the difference is you enter your school or school district name into Google Search and subscribe to the results in your RSS Feed reader. You only need to check your reader when new results are delivered. This allows school leaders to monitor using Google's powerful Web indexing to listen for specific mentions of their schools or districts.
- Conduct a Search in YouTube for Your School or District and Subscribe to That Search in Your RSS Feed Reader: Just like the other tools, this one delivers those search results to your RSS Feed Reader. It is important to be sure to subscribe to variations and other nicknames of your school. When someone posts a video somehow tied to your school, you will be notified through your RSS Feed. When I used this search, I immediately found a couple of videos created by students at my school. Though they were harmless, and actually quite creative, I am glad to know they're there.
- Use the Search Tool IceRocket.com to search blogs, the public Twitter stream, Facebook, images, and the general buzz about your school or district. This one is new to me. It is basically a search engine that allows to search for words or phrases in blogs, Twitter, Facebook, images, or elsewhere. I searched for a local high school using this tool and got immediate returns in all these categories, including recent Tweets and Facebook posts. You can check out IceRocket for yourself at http://www.icerocket.com.