As a school principal I am frequently frustrated by the apparent difficulty in maintaining effective communication with our families. I even tackled the subject in my Master’s thesis, exploring the effectiveness of email versus traditional paper messages between school and home. I am an avid technology user so I maintain a complete and up to date school website, and expanded to using Twitter for short updates and features for our families. We also have an extensive email list for our newsletters.
With all that, we were still finding at the school that parents just didn’t get the information we were putting out. The volume of phone calls asking repetitive questions (which we’d often refer back to the website) was baffling. Why weren’t people getting the info they wanted when we knew it was available for them?
Over the summer I debated starting a Facebook page for the school. I waffled for a while, thinking “it’s one more social media channel to manage….do I really have time to do this?” The I read a headline that 71% of online adults use Facebook (from the Pew Research Centre). And while that’s an American statistic, another from 2013 is that Canada has the highest proportion of Facebook users. I decided to try it.
Is it effective? Let me tell you I am absolutely amazed by the response. Here’s one example. At 6:48 pm on a Friday evening I made a post with a photo of our fresh shiny hallways ready for opening day on Monday, with 2 sentences about where students should go that morning. By 8:30 am the next morning, 235 people had been reached by that post. In context – I have 316 students registered at the school. To me, that scope of reach and speed at which those people were engaged is nothing short of magic.
“Like us on Facebook”? You bet!!
How do you engage with your school community? Do you have innovative ways to harness social media to bring families closer to the school?