Social Media for School Leaders 

By Joe Donovan, The Donovan Group

For many of us, social media is both an amazing communication tool and a thorn in our side. This is especially true, I believe, for school and district leaders. On one hand, there is no easier and faster way to consistently reach a large group of people than through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms. However, these platforms can be distracting and stressful to educational leaders when not used correctly.

This article sizes up social media as a communication tool and provides tips for using social media the right way as part of your school and district communications. 

It's just a tool.
When we consider using social media for school and district communications, we must remember this: it's just a tool. Moreover, social media is only one tool in the educational leader's toolbox. While it's a great one, it's not the right tool for every job. 

Social media is great for engaging those who use it and those with whom we share connections. But we must remember that many people are not active social media users. By relying solely on social media, we will likely miss many people. 

Find your voice.
Active school-and-district-related social media users often follow prominent educational leaders in other communities and other parts of the country. We often hear from AWSA members that they struggle to find their own voices when it comes to using social media, and they try to emulate others, including those they follow. 

Remember that, as in all other communication, you must find your voice on social media. Don't worry that your voice is different from others'. This is, in fact, a good thing. Be authentic. 

What you post can be used against you.
After over a decade and a half of taking calls from school and district leaders, I can say that social media often contributes to employment-related situations. While you should be authentic, do not forget the importance of separating the personal from the professional. 

Remember, what happens in Vegas while you're on vacation doesn't always stay in Vegas when it's posted on social media. Make sure your privacy settings are updated on your personal accounts, and remember, unlike the people who had your job years ago, you can be photographed and video-recorded everywhere you go, and this material can be posted online.  Always protect your reputation. 

Consistency matters. 
If you decide to use social media to promote your school, remember that consistency is important. Posting regularly will keep people engaged. If you post regularly and then quit for a while, you will likely find it difficult to re-engage with your audience. Try to keep a steady posting schedule and be disciplined about it. 

Video works.
Social media is visual media, and visual media makes it easier to connect emotionally. Taking and posting high-quality photos and videos brings people into the school and helps you tell stories more effectively. Technological improvements have made storytelling through high-quality videos even easier. 

Stick to messages. 
We in communications often talk about messaging. Messages are the bite-sized pieces of information that we want our stakeholders to receive. If you could wave a magic wand and have everyone in your community know and feel five things about your school, what would it be? Those are your messages. 

Have fun. 
Finally, have some fun with social media. Sometimes, school and district leaders are so nervous about using social media to tell their schools' or districts' stories that doing so becomes a chore. Great things are happening in your school! Tell that story with enthusiasm!