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It seems like schools are still struggling to balance using social media, and hiding behind the “eSafety” card. Communities thrive on positive storytelling, but it is important to be safe and post/ comment appropriately. Here are our top 6 ways for your school to stay safe on social media.

1. Understand Privacy Settings for each channel.

Privacy settings differ. Fully private – only those you allow to follow you or be your friend can see what you post; semi-private – only those that you share a link to that content can see it. Note: they don’t have to be following you or your friend; public – anyone in the world can see. Just be clear on what content needs to be private, and put the rest public – so people can enjoy and share your content. That, after-all, is the point of social!

2. Don’t post students names!

Why do you need to? Prospects looking at the content are interested in the variety and diversity of opportunities. Parents know what their child looks like. A good example would be “Year 7 Ski Trip to Colorado”. It tells that the school is taking year 7 skiing, and if my child is in year 7, I will be interested to take a look in the hope there is a photo of my child. This is the ONLY thing I am interested in.

3. Block unwanted followers.

Just because your social channel is public, doesn’t mean you should accept all requests to follow your account. Make sure you review all followers, and block those who do not fit your ideal profile. There are many spam accounts, X-rated accounts, and accounts from individuals, who have opinions and posts that are not aligned to that of your school’s. If you receive unwanted comments, then you can always report the account to that social channel. Please note, that the social channels will take only defamatory and inflammatory comments seriously – as they all promote freedom of speech. Just because someone disagrees with something you have posted, doesn’t mean they are bad!

4. Don’t use teachers’ names on school accounts.

Setting up a social media account under a teacher’s name blurs the lines between school (professional) and personal. School departmental accounts should be set-up, in order to allow many teachers to contribute. This then allows the school to follow their students, and allow their students to follow the department – without safeguarding being called into question.

5. Register & reserve your school handle.

Every URL is unique, and that means only ONE URL can exist for each social channel – and in particular your school’s brand name. Have you taken steps to reserve your school handle across the major social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, Sound Cloud, Snapchat, Periscope, etc.) – even if you don’t plan on using them actively in the short-term? If you haven’t, you are in danger of someone else cybersquatting on your brand and using it. This may be legitimate use (E.g. Natalie West owns @NatWest on Twitter, so the well known UK bank has no recourse to claim it). Don’t fall victim to this – as it can easily be avoided with planning.

6. Keep social media handles consistent.

There is nothing worse than someone connecting with the wrong social media account, due to the handle being obvious but also wrong. Take a look at! This is a disaster for any school. Not only does the school not control their own brand, but also the only comment left on the account is not exactly great. Users want to seamlessly jump between a school’s social media accounts – using the same consistent handle. Simply, “find us/SchoolName”….

By Simon Noakes

Simon is the CEO and Founder of Interactive Schools. A father of 4, he founded Interactive Schools in 2006. He utilises his experience and passion for strategic marketing, thought leadership, social media, brand values, technology and innovative thinking to assist schools in telling their unique #SchoolStories. Tweet him @SimonNoakes

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