If your school does not yet have a Facebook page, it will soon. And if you do not create it, someone else will do it for you. Will you be controlling your message?
Launched in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates, Facebook is a social networking service with currently over one billion active users. People everywhere are accessing Facebook. More than half of users are accessing Facebook on a mobile device. Facebook is the most used social networking service by worldwide monthly active users. In April 2010 an estimated 41.6 percent (129.5 million) of the U.S. population had a Facebook account. Between 20 to 30 percent of Facebook users are "power users" who frequently link, poke, post, and tag themselves and others.
Your students are using it. So are your teachers, staff, parents, and patrons. They are engaging in a conversation about your district right now. It is important that your side of the story gets shared as well.
Schools have been slow to recognize change as it happens on the Internet. Years after "web surfing" became part of our parlance, many schools still did not have a web presence. Still today, more than 20 years after the Internet began to change education, many schools have a very plain, informational web site that does little to promote a positive image.
So too with Facebook, many schools feel it is beneath them to dabble in social networking. We like to think of education as a serious business and hope others will take us seriously as well. So we have little time for social trends or fads that may come and go.
But business and industry are involved. They recognize the serious profit potential this market creates. Politics takes it seriously too. It may have been one of the difference-makers in the last presidential election. Online social networking is something that schools need to take seriously as well.
Schools can use it simply enough. Someone needs to be the manager and take the primary responsibility for the page. But that person does not need to fly solo. Others school team members can be added as managers, content creators, or moderators. Together this team keeps the content relevant and the message positive.
Create content your public will want to read about. Catch kids doing well; compliment staff when they successfully achieve. Link your smartphone to your school Facebook page so you can update it on-the-go. Then snap a photo and/or add a quick comment when you see kids doing things worthy of recognition. Bring attention to the good things in your school. People care about good information flowing from your Facebook page. You will be surprised how quickly your message spreads.
The messages will spread anyway regardless of whether or not you are engaged in it. Be part of the conversation to spread the good word about your school.