Keeping things positive on your own social media sites for your school is one thing. But what about what everyone is saying on other channels?
Private parent Facebook groups, community rant pages, neighborhood platforms like Nextdoor: the list could go on and on.
People have opinions and they are not afraid to share them, but now YOUR school is at the center of those complaints.
So what are you supposed to do about it?
- Listen, but don’t necessarily respond
It is fine to listen to what is being said on open and closed platforms, since it’s important to stay informed on what is being said. However, you are not responsible for responding to each and every comment about your school on other pages. Let’s face it; you’d definitely run out of time in your day.
Besides, you are rarely going to change someone’s opinion by commenting on social media or an article online.
You don’t want to assume that everyone in your district feels the same way as the vocal few. Heather DuBois Bourenane, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network, explained this well in a recent webinar (which you can access here).
Try to think of your community like the audience in the Muppets. They are diverse, and likely an entertaining, lively group. That is the reality which you have to learn to deal with in a constructive manner.
But when it comes to the negativity, sometimes the only voices you seem hear are the people criticizing your school.
If you start communicating as if you are only responding to those critics in the balcony, you are going to veer down the wrong path. The others in your community will wonder what you’re even talking about! At times, facts may need to be highlighted in your normal communication channels, but you certainly don’t need to react to every comment out there. Here is a helpful guide to share with your school staff on responding online.
- Continue celebrating your school
When you are under attack, the best thing you can do is to keep telling positive stories of your school through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. You share them on your website. You print them in your local paper. You tell them in your newsletters.
Double down on the optimistic stories that you are putting out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you aren’t posting at least two times a day about the great things going on in your district, you are missing out.
One Minnesota superintendent said it best: “You have to build a culture where it is not socially acceptable to attack our school.” It certainly takes time, but it can be done. You can build a place where positivity is the norm, and where everyone works to keep it that way.
- Encourage your community to get involved
There is power in numbers, and the more people who are sharing your positive stories, the better!
Getting your community involved in telling your story starts with a district hashtag. This allows everyone to be a storyteller for the district, simply by using this hashtag in a post. Strong hashtags include these rockstar examples: #GoCrickets, #WeAreONE10 and #Promise2Purpose.
You want to broadcast that hashtag in every post you share – on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other channel you use, as it’s a vital part of your brand.
Sharing your hashtag offline is just as important to promote continuity! These window stickers are an easy way to do that. They are sure to grab the attention of every person who enters your building. Want to find out how easy it is to order them? Check out this blog.
Asking for help in telling your story can be scary. It requires placing trust in other people to share the good things that are happening in your district. But in my four years of studying social media in schools, I have witnessed a multitude of benefits and rewards when leaders trust their community to help them tell their story!
Need more help?
If you feel like you need additional help in responding to a specific situation in your district or school, reach out to us here at #SocialSchool4EDU. We are always here to help. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if this is helpful, you will definitely want to stay plugged into my bi-weekly newsletter. I share the latest tips, tricks, and trainings on social media for schools. Sign up now and get your hands on 100 ideas for social media posts for your school right away.