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It Isn’t a Problem. . .Until It Is: How Schools Manage Social Media

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When I consult with school leaders, one of my first questions is “How are you currently using social media in your district?” Most are hesitant to answer, embarrassed even. This is because the majority–even those that have a process in place for allowing and monitoring social media accounts–know that rogue accounts exist. More often than not, this is due to the lack of a social media communication plan including a specific policy and a social media management tool. 

Although most districts will not experience a major negative incident involving social media, no one wants to be “that school” when these unfortunate circumstances arise. Only 9% of our respondents don’t have a management system and don’t feel like they need it, stating that it isn’t a problem. But like I always say, “It isn’t a problem. . .until it is.”

Data from the last three years of the Social Media in Education Report shows the value of social media management software to help oversee the management of social media content creation and publishing. Many schools have recognized and implemented some type of software to assist them in meeting their communication goals. School leaders are using this investment to help alleviate the burden placed on a few individuals and mitigate the risks involved in managing a growing presence online. 

This week, I chatted with one of our clients in a large district about how they’ve had really good buy-in from staff during their Class Intercom implementation this fall; however, recently one of their educator’s personal Facebook accounts was hacked,  preventing access to 15 of their school Facebook accounts. Immediately, the IT department and administration realized how important it is to eliminate personal ownership of pages and have a system with role-based security.

It isn’t a problem. . .until it is. 

Social media is becoming more ingrained in the way schools communicate. With the number of social networks and individual profiles growing, schools are using the same (or fewer) number of individuals to manage those new profiles. Only half of schools surveyed noted they have a formal process in place for the management of social media. 

From social media profiles for an entire school to a profile specifically for the swing choir, each is important and provides valuable and engaging content showing how learning is happening in schools. Many schools are seeing faculty members take ownership of those communications through rogue profiles. Still, over half of the respondents did not see any issues with these rogue profiles. Pew Research (2016) noted, 27% of  employed individuals use social media to make or support professional connections. As an administrator, I encouraged my staff members to be active on social media for their own professional development and networking while also retweeting and sharing posts from the district’s social media accounts to show their support of students and school activities. This process protects the school, the teachers, and the students from that one bad decision that can wreak havoc on a district or a career. 

This blog is not meant to instill fear. Please don’t be afraid of social media; instead, embrace it! It isn’t a problem. . .until it is, so take the necessary steps to minimize the risks, tell your story, and protect your students, staff, and district.

Do you want to learn more about social media in education?

Read the full 2021-22 Social Media in Education Report here.

Do you want to participate in the conversation? Register now for the Social Media in Education Webinar on September 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm CST.

Author: Jill Johnson, EdD

Over her 30 year career in education, Dr. Jill has served in various roles including secondary ELA teacher, professional development consultant, and high school administrator. After completing her doctoral study, Technology Leadership Qualities in Secondary Principals in Nebraska who Support Student-led Social Media Teams, Jill began her tenure as Class Intercom President.

Jill can be contacted at jill@classintercom.com

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