Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Type: Article
Topics: School Administrator Magazine, Technology & AI

November 01, 2022

Challenges are a reality, but it’s still feasible to maximize benefits for your school district

In school district administration, is social media our friend or foe? While the answer to that question might depend on the day, the reality remains that social media is here to stay, and its influence is growing rapidly.

As part of an urban school district of 8,500 students south of Hartford, Conn., we are learning how to maximize social media’s advantages, overcome the challenges and create an action plan that can work for students, staff, families and the community.

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Mark D. Benigni and Barbara A. Haeffner

Superintendent and assistant superintendent for teaching and innovation

Meriden, Conn.

Ten Lessons Drawn From Meriden’s Social Media Use

Ten lessons we’ve learned in Meriden about how a school district can launch a successful social media campaign.

  1. Teach all stakeholders. Provide embedded coaching for your teachers. Teach online safety and digital citizenship skills to your students. Support families with an easy-to-access help desk. Launch training sessions for senior citizens to learn from your high school students.
  2. Create safe learning environments. Safety management software is vital, but don’t lose sight of the importance of personal relationships in building trust.
  3. Provide clear device-usage guidance. Set parameters on when students can use devices in class and during the school day.
  4. Encourage use by school administrators. Principals and their assistants ought to post, tweet and communicate with their stakeholders regularly.
  5. Use a common hashtag. This builds connectedness and strengthens your district brand.
  6. Develop a credible web presence. District and school websites provide accurate and essential information, so be sure to embed these social media feeds on your sites.
  7. Provide options for notifications. Maximize the use of your notification tools and push your messages to your social media platforms.
  8. Include all district operations. Food and nutrition services, transportation and facilities departments all have timely information to share with your community.
  9. Task someone to oversee district social media. Designate a point person on staff for your district communications or consider a consultant to support your online presence.
  10. Share good news. News coverage is quick to point out the struggles of society. Let us be the ones to share the great work of our students and staff.