In this epoch of social media, our networks are bigger than ever as we have many ways to stay connected. The sphere of communication has expanded significantly. How and with whom we communicate has changed drastically.
This makes it important for schools to differentiate their communication efforts if they want to create a true school-home partnership.
According to Hoyle, English & Steffy, 1998, communication and community relations have been identified as one of the nine most important skills to master as an educational leader. It is quite evident that if an educational leader wants to be successful, he or she cannot afford not to communicate effectively.
The point to understand here is that parents are also evolving with the tools they use each day. Technology and social media specifically has arrived, hence it is our job to keep current with the astronomical increase in technology use by our stakeholders.
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are trending these days and have tremendous potential to help leaders to communicate with their audience directly & with transparency. Engagement and personal presence are the two integral parts of leadership credibility, and these two social media platforms are very helpful for the same.
The perception of the social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook is not good as school leaders believe these platforms are for meaningless conversations & time waste, but there are many ways in which schools and leaders can harness the power of these free platforms to improve communications and hence improve overall effectiveness. So how can you make the best use of Facebook and Twitter; let’s explore more about it.
How to Use Twitter to Communicate Effectively?
Communicate Information Whenever and Wherever you Want!
Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows users to send free messages called Tweets in 140 characters or less. These tweets can be text, images, or videos making it a dynamic communication tool.
Eric Sheninger, one of the most popular and regular communicators through Twitter states in his book that "the brevity and succinctness of tweets allow leaders to communicate real-time information that is not only impactful, but also saves precious time." He suggests that "instead of spending money on expensive information delivery systems, leaders can use Twitter for free."
Platforms like Twitter provide access to information over a variety of devices including mobile devices where the traditional communication means fail.
Some great ways in which Twitter works for school leaders are:
- To send out routine reminders of school functions such as concerts, art shows, athletic games, and scholastic competitions.
- To send out meeting reminders (Parent-Teachers Association, Athletic Boosters, Annual Function Meeting, Reunion Team Meeting etc.);
- To notify attendees of a room and/or a time change;
- To distribute agendas beforehand;
- To make minutes of the meetings available to all even if they were unable to attend.
- To capture, curate and share student achievements and successes as they happen.
- To collect and curate resources for parents, teachers, and students.
- To keep all stakeholders informed during and after emergencies.
The key to using platforms like Twitter for such tasks is that it gets information to your stakeholders quickly and easily in real-time and also helps you to redirect them to other sources of information that provide more depth.
Twitter has been rising in popularity across the globe, and it is also the fastest growing social media tool. Twitter is also among one of the most powerful tools that can be used for professional development. Millions of leaders worldwide are using Twitter to connect, share, and collaborate with each other.
Here are some other tips to make the use of Twitter smooth and effective:
Exhibit Your Twitter Handle
This tip may sound simple but most leaders overlook to embed their Twitter handles in email signatures, school websites as well as voicemail. Exhibiting your Twitter handle helps to grow your network, display your Twitter handle wherever you list your email and phone number.
Conduct Twitter Chats for Staff Participation
Twitter is the best way to collaborate with your staff in real time. Use Twitter chat sessions to discuss issues and ask questions. Choose a day or a week and specific a time and tell your staff about the chat session. Twitter chats are one of the best ways to interact and get various ideas.
Reply to the Tweets
Take time out of your day to go through the tweets of your staff. See to it that you respond to them, favourite, and retweet them, This practice would go a long way in encouraging your staff memebers.
Build a Speaker Series
Invite speakers virtually or in person to talk about the effectiveness of Twitter. People need to listen about new technology and its impact. When they hear the success story then only do they tend to follow or adopt a certain practice.
Build Twitter Team
Managing large teams can be hard when it comes to following your staff's Twitter. Make Twitter teams and meet them regularly for updates.
How to Use Facebook to Communicate Effectively?
Facebook is the most talked about social media platform as everyone seems to be on Facebook including students, parents, grandparents and other community members. It can be used as a great tool for two-way communication with stakeholders.
Facebook is one of the great ways to communicate quickly. Keep the following tips in mind when you plan to use it :
- Allow comments and likes to make it a two-way communication tool.
- Use it to brand school and share school achievements.
- Allow and Encourage Teachers and Staff to post to the page, add Facebook notes and Share Resources.
- Collect, Curate and Share resources for parents, teachers, and students on a regular basis.
- Use it as a platform to stay connected with the alumni.
Here are some other tips to make the use of Facebook smooth and effective:
Use Facebook to connect with people of the education industry. Avoid adding people your staff or you might not know, or those who do not belong to the education industry. Specify your reasons for communication if you're connecting with new people.
Community and Fan Page
Facebook fan pages and communities are the best ways to communicate. Update relevant statuses as well as pictures with clear messages that will convey the motive of the page and community. Facebook pages are are a very effective means to communicate and grow your network.
Post Relevant Material on a Regular Basis
People will only like your page or participate in your discussions when they feel that your post is relevant and informative. You can ask questions, start quizzes and discussions with the relevant audience and communicate well.