Last week I presented at the SOAR Putting the Peices Together Conference where professionals from non-profits and school districts came together to explore ways to work more effectively. I spoke on a panel discussion about online collaborative services, and learned from an attendee that Seattle Public Schools does not have any presence on social media. No connection to students and no outreach to parents.
That's right. Zero.*(See note below)
Now I know the idea of using sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to engage the community is still a new practice for many organizations, but to not have ANY presence? This is a shame!
With close to 1/2 billion people on Facebook, a dialog is going on that every large (and small) organization needs to be aware of. Each night more eyes watch YouTube, than broadcast news.
At minimum, a school district should have a Facebook Page (and maybe even a Twitter account). Just in case something DOES go wrong, the school or district will have these tools to fight back, and to tell their story.
This doesn't mean that every mom and pop bakery needs to be Tweeting their daily deals (but it helps). This just means that every large organization, particularly a public school system, should be part of the dialog.
As a great teacher once told me...
Tell your story or someone else will.
What if a school doesn't have a social media presence?
Well, when a teacher commits a crime, how will you respond? What about when your district wins a national award? How will the public know?
If all the local newspapers shut down or simply just don't have room to cover all your successes (or snow delays), what tools will you have to tell your story, to spread your message?
All schools, private and public, from pre-k to post-secondary should consider using social media. From sharing parent updates, to highlighting innovative programs (Sec. Duncan recently toured Aviation High School... and they're on Twitter), this is just another tool for communicating. This is why you need a social media presence. If not for gabbing, for correcting errors and celebrating successes.
That reminds me, check me out on Twitter @joelwho
*NOTE: I checked on Facebook and discovered that the only result for Seattle Public Schools is a wikipedia page slurp that Facebook automatically generated. This is just another example of why schools need to get on board. You need to tell your story, or someone else will. Run to social media!