- Independent Schools
Using social media to expand and enhance school communications and marketing may initially seem intimidating. Marketing and Communications Officer Emily Frankish at Pocklington School in Yorkshire shares her experience; that Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the like can spread an independent school's happy news faster than you can say Jack Robinson! So it isn’t surprising that the staff, pupils, prospects and their families of this 500-year-old school are remarkably comfortable with the most modern of media.
Using Social Media to Support National Press
When Former Pupil and number one British tennis player Kyle Edmund made the semi-finals in the Australian Open this past January, the school organised and promoted a 6 a.m. viewing. An impressive number of kids and local alumni showed up to support Kyle and demonstrate Pocklington spirit.
The Pocklington School team took the opportunity to promote the event on social media before and after the match: Tweets! Instagrams! Facebook! The event and Kyle’s ongoing relationship with his alma mater, boosted by social media savvy, made the national and international media. BBC Breakfast News even turned up to broadcast live from the school as current pupils cheered Kyle on.
Now that’s how to swing a social media campaign!
Getting your School Community On Board
Emily has loads on her plate besides tweeting and blogging. She also handles publications, open events, photography, graphic design, advertising and marketing.
That variety is captured simply by the multiplicity of social media platforms with which Pocklington School spreads its message of Courage and Truth. Although the school launched a snazzy new website with the able assistance of Finalsite last December, its social media practice was initiated on its previous WordPress site. Emily started with Twitter. Add to that the usual suspects: Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube. But wait! There’s more! Here’s a couple that may surprise you: LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Sound daunting? It certainly could be, but Emily isn’t the only player on the Pocklington social media squad. She’s recruited faculty and staff to help. There’s one for the Prep School of course (@PockPrep), one for the award-winning music programme (@pockschmusic), and one for the rugby team (yup, @PockRugby).
Emily says that the sharing social media wealth works well. No one, however, gets carte blanche when it comes to information and how it’s shared. “Everyone gets the rules, such as, “Stay positive. No whinging. Consider everything you write public”
Heads of School on Social Media
Encouragingly, Emily reports that though the number of Pocklington social media outlets has blossomed, the nature of her work hasn’t changed. What’s different, she says, is the amount of blogging. Again, help is always given at Pocklington to those who ask. For example, Headmaster Mark Ronan posts his own blog and tweets regularly. The beauty of a “personal” online domain means that he can differentiate his message from that of the school overall. Meanwhile, parents appreciate a more personal approach from the guy who’s in charge.
Start creating your school's social media plan using this 10 step guide
A Creative Outlet
With a plethora of platforms at her disposal, which is Emily’s favourite? Instagram! Emily is a gifted photographer, and enjoys capturing the moment.
"My preference betrays my roots in design," Emily says, "I love that Instagram shows the school as it is in real life."
The Old Pocklington's really like it too-- "That’s my whole childhood in one picture," says one.
Emily also enjoys Pinterest, which she deems considerably underused. She uses this social network to compile and showcase school events and accolades. Pinterest allows her to build Pocklington subject-specific boards, whether it’s for alumni or the school bake-off. She scours the Internet for clippings and stows them all in one virtual place. Another advantage: “It’s quick. Once set up with an account, online images have a “Pin-It” button.”
Using Social Media to Promote the School's Key Messages
How does this whirl of electronic activity fit into Pocklington School’s overarching social media strategy? Emily, who’s part of a team under the school’s Director of External Relations, makes sure that social media promotes the school’s key messages about education, community and tradition at Pocklington, as well as its tranquil setting. These are repeated across more traditional media as well: booklets, adverts, and development materials.
In addition to ensuring that Pocklington School stays on message, Emily and her colleagues focus on communicating strategically. For each term, the department colour-codes each message and platform to make sure each gets appropriate airtime. Says Emily, “It’s a great way to take a quick measure of your efforts.”
Emily is also a numbers fanatic. That points to another important aspect of social media: trackability. Emily keeps tabs on the school’s key performance indicators through Google Analytics.
To recap: social media is fun, creative and versatile. It’s speedy too. Many different people can help promote the school by taking an active role in its on-line life. Equally important, social media lends itself to assessment, and we all know how crucial that can be.
- Social Media