There is no question that social media has communication power that can cause change, motivate people to specific behavior, and provide more access to information. Not surprisingly, environments that are extremely open and uncontrolled don’t normally garner support and immediate acceptance from school administrations, mainly because of their primary focus to delivery the education of children in a particular format. Often, social media is seen as a distraction rather than any kind of assistance or a teaching tool.

However, the times when schools can simply expect taxpayer funds to be handed to them like subsidies are long gone. With tighter economies and more use of competitive grant processes, schools have to compete for every dollar that comes to them from the government, both federal and state. This begins to incorporate the need to market and create a brand for a given school as well as generate a community level of support.

A traditional approach to marketing involves hiring a marketing firm and consulting outfit to develop a marketing campaign, including advertising and brand development as well as coordinated outreach at multiple levels. However, most schools don’t have the authority or resources to spend on that kind of approach. Yet with social media, many of the same benefits can be obtained for very low or no cash cost at all.

Whether the approach be Twitter marketing, Facebook marketing, mobile marketing or SMS marketing, a school has a number of choices to work with. But the critical factor is to first have a social media plan in place that can be used as road map and reference for all messaging to follow. By having an umbrella plan, a school can then make sure all activities involved stay on track.

It’s important for a school management to realize a social media campaign is not a one-time event. A certain amount of activity over two weeks doesn’t produce a guaranteed metric of response. Instead, a school has to be willing to dedicate staff and time to regular messaging and content development. Those resources have to be committed on a permanent basis to maintain, foster, and grow a social media presence. It’s a bit like running a farm; the ground has to be tilled and planted, the rows watered, the fresh plants minded to avoid pests, and eventually a harvest occurs if everything works well. But it takes a lot of work and commitment to even have a potential of happening.

If your school management team needs help with social media as a new tool or resource, it’s a smart idea to bring in an expert to explain and guide your institution on how to build a social media platform correctly. The beginning steps taken have a significant influence on how the rest of the effort works. With the right expertise, a school team can help ensure success in those critical first steps getting started.

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