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Kick-start your school’s social media efforts
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Kick-start your school’s social media effortsIt’s no surprise that Facebook(SM), Twitter® and Wikipedia are becoming part of our everyday activities. These tools make it easy to connect and communicate with others who share our interests. If your school is looking for new ways to share its story with interested supporters, social media tools are something to consider.

These tools are designed to be easy-to-use, so getting started will be the easy part. Before you set up an account, decide how you are going to use these tools, who will be involved in maintaining them, how much time they will devote to that effort and how frequently they will do so.

Facebook fan pages
If many of the parents, volunteers, staff members and community supporters in your school use Facebook, this can be a great way to communicate news and updates with them. You’ll want to set your school up with a Facebook Page (rather than a user profile, which is designed for individual use when communicating via Facebook). Facebook offers a step by step guide for creating the page, recruiting fans and using it to engage them(1).

You can use your school’s Facebook page to tell your fans about achievements at your school, special programs, fund-raising events or other happenings that may be of interest. Engage your fans by posting on their walls and asking for their feedback and input.

Promote your Facebook presence both online and offline to encourage families and alumni to become fans. Add a Facebook badge with a link to your Facebook page on your school’s website. Include your Facebook presence in your school newsletter or e-newsletter. Add ‘Find us on Facebook’ and your school logo to the Wave Monitor & Keyboard Cleaner and hand them out at Parent-Teacher Conferences. Sports fans can help you spread the word when you hand the Foam Hand – #1 Hand or a Button imprinted with your logo and the phrase ‘Become a Facebook Fan.’

Wikipedia articles on your school or district
Whether your school is the subject of a Wikipedia article or you’d like your school to be, you’ll want to carefully review Wikipedia’s information for new users before making any contributions to your school’s article(2). Wikipedia maintains a strong Conflict of Interest policy that discourages users who are very close to a subject from writing articles on that subject(3). The goal is for each Wikipedia article to contain neutral, reliably-sourced information. You’ll need a Wiki account to participate in the site, so creating one is the first step.

  • Existing pages -If you want to contribute changes or request edits to a Wikipedia page about your school, the best way to do so is by requesting edits on the article’s ‘talk pages.’  Doing so eliminates any potential conflict of interest while allowing you to submit information and data that other editors can review and consider adding to the article(4).
  • New pages -If your school is not currently included in a Wikipedia article, you may propose the topic for an article in the WikiProjects section. When 5-10 editors sign on to the project, your team can begin work on the article. While you wait for editors to sign on, you may build an article sub-page and ask other Wikipedia editors for assistance on it. This allows others to help you make sure that your tone is neutral and you aren’t violating the conflict of interest policy(5).

‘Tweet’ your updates
The microblogging tool Twitter allows you to send followers updates up to 140 characters in length. Schools may find this useful for communicating snow days, reminders about early release or late starts or even upcoming events. Or, your Twitter use can be far more interactive – as you post photos, polls or ask your Twitter ‘friends’ to volunteer or provide feedback on school issues. When you sign up, you’ll get a Twitter ‘handle,’ which is the name for your account.

Like your Facebook page, you’ll want to promote your Twitter presence both online and offline.  Online, add your school’s Twitter handle to your e-mail signature and include it on your Facebook page (if you have one). Give away Bic Full-Color 30 mil Business Card Magnets with your Twitter address at school events. Promote specific types of updates your Twitter followers receive. For example, promote weather updates by imprinting the Mini Ice Scraper Plus – Tropi-Cool or The Old Farmer’s Almanac Calendar – Weather with your school’s logo and Twitter handle. Or, if you plan to use Twitter to provide parent updates, imprint your logo and Twitter handle on the Economy Vinyl Ring Binder, which parents can use to send print communication back and forth to teachers.

Schools will find many different uses for social media tools like Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter. When you’re ready to dip your toes into the social networking waters, promote your presence both online and offline. You’ll be amazed what you can do – in fewer than 140 characters!

(1)”Facebook Pages.” Facebook. Facebook. Web. 6 Oct. 2009. <http://www.facebook.com/advertising/?pages>.

(2)”Wikipedia:New contributors’ help page -.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 06 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:New_contributors%27_help_page>.

(3)”Wikipedia:Conflict of interest -.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 06 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:COI>.

(4)”Wikipedia:Talk page -.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 06 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk_pages>.

(5)”Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals -.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 06 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Council/Proposals>.

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