Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5 Ways School Leaders Can Immediately Capture the Power of Social Media

“Customer engagement means trusting, listening, and learning from your stakeholder communities, and responding to their comments with quality content in an honest, authentic manner.” Andy Beal and Judy Strauss, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online
The conventional way many administrators use social media is as a “21st century announcement system.” Using it in this manner is certainly worthwhile, but that is using only one facet of social media. It is also designed to connect and foster multi-way communication. It is a means to carry on a conversation, and simply using it to announce your next open house or the latest basketball scores ignores this connection-fostering aspect of social media.

As a school leader, if you want to grow and move to using social media as it is designed, here’s some things you might want to do today to use social media as a multi-way conversational device.
  • Don’t just send messages; invite your school community into an online conversation. Post something that invites your stakeholders into a conversation. Take a poll, post an opinion, get feedback on a schedule change, or have your parents share memories of what school was like for them. If you’re just using social media to “send messages” you miss the whole point of the technology: it’s about the conversations.
  • Give your school community the information they want, not what you think they should have. With social media we have one of the most powerful information-dispensing systems in the history of mankind, and we want to try to control the information flow. Find out today what kinds of information your constituents want and give it to them. Give them the content they want to have, not what you think they want.
  • Make your social media use a “sustained communication effort” not just one of the those added things you do. To really capture the power of social media, use it in a sustained manner. Post provocatively and thoughtfully and do so each day. To get the most of social media, use it in sustained manner, not as an afterthought.
  • Use multiple social media platforms. This only makes sense. Use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google + to get the widest audience possible. Don’t limit your school or district social media use to one tool. Make your educational social media efforts a quality marketing effort using multiple tools.
  • Don’t throw out the traditional media. Social media and traditional media can complement one another. A good old-fashioned press release well-placed then promoted through social media can get a lot of attention. Making use of both media types is a 21st century communication strategy.
While you can certainly use social media to make announcements, its real power lies in the connections and relationships it fosters. Make an effort to expand how you use it today.

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