Social media do's and don'ts
Online communication can be complicated. Joe
Clarke from the UK Safer Internet Centre takes us through the pros
and cons of operating PTA social media accounts
Without doubt, social media is one of the best ways
to keep your school community connected, up-to-date and engaged.
Facebook - the largest social media network and the one most PTAs
use - has 2.45 billion monthly active users, and 45 million of them
are in the UK. That's 67% of the population! But remember, running
an account for your PTA is quite different from keeping your own
Social media is one of the best, quickest, and most
flexible ways to communicate:
- You can post at any time (or even schedule posts to
go out in the future), use images and videos, and have
- You can send emergency communications as soon as
you're aware of a situation - for example, needing to reschedule or
change events because of bad weather.
- It's a two-way conversation: it's more responsive
and engaging than traditional printed or emailed newsletters.
- It gathers different groups under one roof -
parents, teachers and governors are all on social media.
- When members of your school community share your
updates, more local people will learn about what you're doing.
You can show off your values:
- You get to choose the tone and personality of your
- and the topics you talk about, which can represent
your school community positively.
- Sharing 'user-generated content' (posts from the
people who follow your page) is a great way to make your community
feel listened to and represented.
- You get to choose what your PTA says - you curate
and control what's on your page.
The golden rules of running a social media
- Set rules, policies, and boundaries for members and
- Have a plan for what, when and how often you will
- Make sure everyone feels respected and
Take care to stay calm and positive:
- Once a message is public, you lose control over it.
A controversial post or a mistimed comment can easily be
- People may choose to write negative stories and
comments about your school community.
- You cannot guarantee that every interaction will be
Privacy is a burning issue:
- Some parents will not want images of their children
- Not every member of your community will want to
- It's likely that, at some point, you will share
something that someone objects to.
Your time is valuable:
- A newsletter or email can be put together in an hour
or two, but a social media page requires regular monitoring and
- You may find yourself checking the page too
- Parents are busy people and volunteers may not
always have the time to help run the account.
If you've weighed up the pros and cons and still want
to get your PTA on social media, that's great news! You have the
chance to share news, updates and images, and ensure your school
community feels included in the hard work you are doing. It's a
good idea to do your own research to learn more about your chosen
social media platform as you get further into running your
Do's and don'ts
- Have clear, agreed-upon responsibilities for admins
- for example, who manages the page on which days
- Agree as a group the type of content you want to
post (e.g. events, good news stories, announcements,
- Agree on the kind of content you don't want to post
(e.g. pictures of children, political statements)
- Decide if you want to run a public page or a
private group. Anyone can see and like a page, whereas users have
to request to join a group, so you can vet who sees your posts
- Set clear policies and ensure everyone has access
- Set clear rules for members to follow (you can
write this as a post and 'pin' it so it's the first thing visitors
- Get permission for the items you share on your page
(e.g. the school's logo, images with faces in)
- Use the full functionality: you can upload files
such as agendas or minutes, and block or mute members who don't
follow the rules.
- Take on more than you can manage. Set limits on how
many hours the admins will dedicate to running the page
- Post without a plan. You don't have to have
everything planned out in advance, but it's good to share ideas, so
other admins don't get a nasty surprise one day!
- Disrespect admins and policies. You may be tempted
to share something that goes against your policies, but remember
that this isn't your personal project - it's the PTA's
- Forget to ask for feedback from the school
community (the way your page operates should be adaptable and
change over time)
- Bend your rules. They're there for a reason, and if
you let people get away with infringements, you will lose control
before you know it!
- Presume. Never go with 'I'm sure this will be
fine'; always go with 'check, then check again'
- Let things slide. If you aren't able to help with
the page anymore, step back so it can continue running
For more information
For more information on the UK Safer Internet
Centre, visit their website, or
find it on Facebook at @saferinternetuk or Twitter: @UK_SIC.
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