How many people do you follow on Twitter? How about Facebook? How many times do you check for your friends’ updates or browse the blog world to keep track of the latest news? Did you ever think that you’d find your child’s school, or your alma mater requesting your “friendship?” Don’t be surprised if these schools start to show up on your news feed.
Ann Bibby’s post highlighted that some schools are starting to integrate social media like Myspace and Facebook into their curriculum. Although budget constraints make it difficult for schools to keep up with the latest technology, using these tools in the classroom will show students that web surfing can be more than a form of entertainment. These tools can be beneficial outside of the classroom as well.
Although most schools have their own websites, officials often find they receive little traffic. Instead of trying to get students, parents, alumni and supporters to come to them, many schools are going to the site their populations frequent: Facebook.
Katie Machir, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich CT said that the school’s Facebook page is a proactive marketing tool for them. “It gives us an avenue to reach out to current families and prospective families and let them know about all the ‘happenings’ at our school.” She said that their Facebook page, which has 366 followers, helps draw people to the school’s website. “Most people do not check the CSH website everyday, but they do check their Facebook page everyday.”
A Washington Post article highlighted The Landon School’s use of Facebook. The Bethesda private school’s page has over 500 followers. “We’re slowly trying to incorporate these social networking platforms,” said spokeswoman Jean Erstling. “It’s very important for us to be able to reach out to young alumni, and since they weren’t coming to our site, we needed to go to them.”
Using these new media creates two-way communication. In the past parents received letters home, donors received newsletters and alumni may have been left in the dark. However, in today’s information age, schools are able to keep everyone in the loop and followers can give feedback to their respective schools.
Using Twitter, Facebook and blogs opens a window to the schools that most people don’t get to see regularly. Followers can read news, see pictures and even watch videos. These avenues help to remove the disconnect that parents, alumni and supporters may feel because they’re not in the physical building each day. Further, followers are invited to the conversation, and they can participate at their own convenience.
As the Development Director at St. Joseph School, an inner-city school in the Bronx, I know first hand the value of forming solid connections with community members. Like most private schools, St. Joseph relies on both tuition and outside support to survive.
In these economic times, it is more important than ever for students’ parents, alumni and donors to feel a solid, constant connection with the school. It is crucial that they understand what is happening on the ground. Further, these media help them to make their voices heard, as they should be.
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