The Science of Social Media

Sulfur, Oxygen, Carbon, Iodine and Aluminium - what would they create? SO₂CI₃Al 🙄 (not a recommended, or even viable, chemical formula by the way).

In this week's #SchoolBytes, we are sending out something a little special. With a team of lab-cloaked researchers, we have been splicing the atoms of social media. 🔬🤔

What did we discover through our study? Many, many elements that make up the very fabric of the Social Media Universe! In a truly scientific manner, we've begun to map out these elements.

For your viewing pleasure, we give you The Periodic Table of Social Media.

Click to enlarge

The evolution of social media and apps

The first recognised social media networking site was, which launched 20 years ago in 1997. It enabled users to upload a profile and make friends with other users.

In 1999, the first blogging sites became popular, and started the social media sensation that we see today.

However, the true social media revolution took place when the first iPhone was released in 2008. To coincide with the iPhone's release, the App Store was launched - a library that begun with just 500 apps and now has 2.2 million! 

The introduction of apps has dramatically influenced the behaviour of people the world over. In particular, apps have driven a huge boost in social media usage and mobile usage:

  • the number of mobile users surpassed desktop users in 2014
  • people aged 18 - 24 years use more mobile apps than any other age group
  • the time spent on mobile apps is:
    • 43% on games
    • 26% on social networking
    • 10% on entertainment
    • 10% on utilities
    • 2% on news and productivity
    • 1% on health fitness and lifestyle
    • 5% on others

Breaking down the social media elements

Each colour represents a specific area of social media. Take a look at the full list below. Who knows, perhaps you will StumbleUpon the next big Xing?






Virtual Reality (VR )

Augmented Reality (AR)


Have you observed any elements not included in our Periodic Table? Are we on the cusp of creating new ones, or even discovering new social media elements in nature? Well, perhaps not the latter but social media will continue to evolve and this table will expand.

Which ones would you have added in? Please comment below and see if we can discover all the secrets in the [social media] Universe.

Leading by example: Heads on social

The future depends on what we do in the present
— Mahatma Gandhi

Your school is a brand, with your Head / Principal acting as the brand's CEO. In modern marketing, regardless of the industry you are in, the consumer rules the roost. They want engagement from a brand; to be part of the buying process.

How you interact with them can have a considerable impact on how you are perceived in a socially connect world.

This means your social media game needs to be on-point! You no longer need to simply push your product at the consumer. Instead, you need to form a relationship with the consumer. You need to to entertain and inform them, and give them a reason to trust you and talk about you (word of mouth is your strongest marketing tool). 

Using social media as a school can make this challenging; delivering a sense of personality as a bricks and mortar establishment is more difficult to achieve. What you want is human interaction to help with this. Where better to start, then, than with your school Head?

A socially connected brand leader

In a study, leadership skill sets were analysed to see if there was a direct correlation between CEO's who are active on social media, versus those who are not.

The findings showed that CEO candidates who are social are:

  • 89% better at empowering others
  • 52% stronger at compelling communication
  • 46% more influential
  • 36% better at cultivating networks
  • 19% more passionate for results
  • 16% better at making decisions

The first three points are important - it highlights the influence your CEO (Head) can have on social.

Interestingly, the number of CEO's taking to social media, from top organisations, has seen a substantial increase in recent years - rising from 36% in 2010 to an estimated 80% plus today.

Leaders that love people, that love interaction, make time.
— Justin Foster, Cofounder of root + river

Examples of Heads on social

Jane Lunnon - Head of Wimbledon High School - is a great example of how your school's Head can take to social media.

Jane uses Twitter to add commentary to both her school and schooling in general, as well as share lots of resources related to the education industry. In doing so, she is able to promote Wimbledon High School in an amiable way, with a human touch (something that Wimbledon high School's main Twitter account would not be able to do to the same level).

Choosing your platform

Having a voice on social media is super - making the most out of the different channels you have available then is a top idea.


Consider what kind of Head you have, how they best communicate and the formats that will best serve them. As well as this, are they using social media as a voice within the education sector or as that personable element to your school brand?

The school commentator: If your Head wants to have a presence on social to help promote the school, Twitter is hands down the best channel for this. With Twitter, it is easy to engage with the main school Twitter account - to share (or Retweet) all the cool things that happen in your school and to add a few lines of commentary to stamp personality onto the content.

Your community will look to the Head as a reliable figurehead for the school brand and engage more emotionally with the content because it comes from a person - not a brand.

Take Elon Musk, his Twitter account is a clever blend of business and promotion, resource sharing, and personal Tweets that humanise his activity within the technology and science world. 

A voice in education: Many Heads are influencers in the many topics that surround education. This can open more options on social for your Head to host their content.

In a similar fashion, Mark Steed - Director of JESS Dubai - uses social media to not only promote and lead conversation around his school, but also as a platform to be a voice in "issues that impact on education". 

Mark makes use of two Twitter feeds (one as Director of JESS Dubai and one under his pseudonym independenthead). As well as this, Mark runs a blog to help archive and share his contribution to the issues that impact the independent school sector.


VIDEO: If your Head is comfortable and affable in-front of the camera, using YouTube could be a brilliant idea. This is exactly what Kieran Earley - CEO and Principal of The British School in the Netherlands - does, with a series of video blogs based around #EdTech.

AUDIO: Or how about just audio? Podcasts can be an incredibly beneficial undertaking for your Head.

Audio is really accessible for your community, especially those who operate on limited time. The ability to listen to a Podcast on the go - through a mobile device or in their car for example - makes it as easy to access as any other social media channel.



  • podcast listening is on the rise for both genders (56% male / 44% female)
  • consumers aged 18-34 are most likely to be monthly podcast listeners.
  • monthly podcast listeners are typically affluent: 16% have an annual household income of $150K or more
  • people who are weekly podcast listeners spend a mean time of 5 hours and 7 minutes per week listening to podcasts (that is a lot of opportunity for a Head to engage with their community!)
  • in 2017, just 31% of monthly podcast listeners use a computer to listen to a podcast; 69% use a smartphone, tablet, or other portable device

There is absolutely a gap in the market for more audio-centred content! Could your Head fill this space?

WRITTEN: However, if they are more effective using written words then they should most definitely be using a blogging channel of some sort. Setting up a blog on Blogger or Wordpress is quick, and simple to manage.

Your Head should focus on their strengths - as this will make the process more enjoyable, and the content more impactful.

Sally-Anne Huang - Headmistress of James Allen's Girls' School - has a brilliant example of this. Using Tumblr, Sally-Anne has created a blog that really plays to her strengths as not only a Headmistress of an independent school, but an educator and mother living in South London. Her experiences and personality is very clear throughout her blog. 


Whichever channel best suits your Head, there should also be a method to help disseminate their content.

Social: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are social networks - they are able to host all types of media from across the web. Sharing a blog post or YouTube vlog is as simple as pasting in a URL. Each network will have their own type of audience:

  • Twitter: good for reaching your community of parents and peers, engaging with your school and becoming part of the conversation
  • LinkedIn: perfect for connecting with peers and the professional community. You can publish articles and engage with content other LinkedIn users have used. Use this channel for networking
  • Facebook: good for reach. More personal channel than the other two but with the largest community - now over 2 BILLION users!

The reach on these channels will be higher - people are far more likely to search for your Head on Twitter or LinkedIn - they are less likely to search for them on YouTube or try Googling their blog.

Website: we often see the Head's Welcome page as one of the most-viewed pages on the websites we design. Prospectives visiting your website want to find that emotional link, to help better visualise their child at your school. Your Head is often the first port of call for this.

It is easy to embed your Head's Twitter feed onto your website - turning the Head's Welcome into an interactive, visual and impactful page.

Newsletter / Parent Comms: most schools will send out an e-newsletter to parents every week. This is another perfect method for your Head to reach your community. A simple link to their blog or Twitter profile, or an embedded vlog hosted on YouTube, can be really positive.

We find this can have a profound effect on parents, and make them feel more intimately involved with the school their children attend.


Leading your school's presence on social media may be a new concept to many Heads out there, but it is something that merits strong consideration. It presents a great opportunity for them to not only help the school but to become an influencer in the education industry. 

We see more and more Heads coming to platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn, becoming more involved with the conversations that concern them and connecting with more peers.

Does your Head use social media for any of the above reasons? What are your thoughts on the subject? We would love to hear - please comment below.

5 #EdTech trends every school should know

Classrooms don’t need tech geeks who can teach; we need teaching geeks who can use tech
— David Geurin

As technology continues to influence our lives (in almost every aspect), bricks and mortar education is becoming less practical. Schools are expanding their horizons past these traditional concepts, incorporating #EdTech into their curriculum.

There are a ton of arguments about how education technologies should be used, or even if they add value to the teaching process.

Regardless of your stance however, #EdTech (as an industry) is unlikely to disappear. Instead, new processes will be put in place, in schools the world over, to help implement evolved styles of learning. 

5 #EdTech trends that dominated 2017

  1. The continued penetration of smartphones: schools are finding it harder to discourage the use of smartphones in the classroom setting. Most pupils have access to one. Schools embracing the use of smartphones often see them as being fun, engaging and effective for pupils using them as part of the learning process
  2. Virtual reality: probably the largest tech trend in 2017 (not just in #EdTech), the innovations already seen in VR this year are suggesting it has a strong future in education
  3. High-quality content: as tech develops so too does the quality of content it can produce. #EdTech trends are surging towards the proliferation of better and better content
  4. Wi-Fi: having a good wireless network in schools has been an issue for a long time now. Some setups cannot meet the standards of technology today and desperately need to be updated. This is especially true in more remote and poorer areas of the world. #EdTech innovators will continue to develop basic Wi-Fi capabilities, so schools can meet advancements and developments in technology
  5. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): an interesting trend in schools is BYOD. When learners bring in their own devices, the learning process becomes far more personalised in nature. BYOD highlights a significant method of learning, which could become more and more popular in future years, where learning becomes pupil-led and collaborative.
Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational
— George Couros

4 challenges that need to be overcome in #EdTech

  1. Resistance to change: perhaps the hardest obstacle to overcome, particularly in an industry that has held fast to the same methods for a long time. The sooner schools - and those who can directly influence learning  - understand that change is inevitable, the sooner education and technology can work in tandem. We are not suggesting that ALL #EdTech is good but we are confident it is has a significant role to play in the future of ALL education.
  2. Cost: something that impacts both sides of the same coin! For #EdTech companies, finding financial aid can be a challenge. For schools, the cost of implementing #EdTech can be difficult to justify.
  3. DOES #EdTech work: scientific research proving the long-term effect of #EdTech is severely low in comparison to the many years that back up traditional learning. This can divert attention away from HOW to implement #EdTech to WHY we should implement #EdTech. 
  4. Too much to pick from: the #EdTech industry is booming right now. This means the number of #EdTech products is high. Competition is difficult for #EdTech startups; it is getting harder and harder to stand out in this industry.


#EdTech innovation can lead the revolution of teaching methodology. That being said, it needs to be used as a tool to improve teaching - not as a sole resource for teaching in itself.

We will continue to see #EdTech broach further into the curriculums of our schools - how far it can take us will be an interesting thing to see!

How has your school adapted to modern demands of technology, and implemented quality pedagogy with top #EdTech resources? We'd love to hear. Please comment below.

7 things teachers should (and should not) be doing on social media

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops
— Henry Adams

Getting your teaching staff on social media can often be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's a fantastic way to develop a great community between the school and parents. On the other hand, it takes training and strategy to get teachers on board and using social media effectively.

To help, here are 7 things that teachers should (and should not) be doing on social media:

[1] Champion your department, your pupils and your school with amazing #SchoolStories

For us at Interactive Schools, the ideal use for your school being on social media is to share amazing #SchoolStories with your community (and beyond).

Many school marketers out there will recognise how difficult this can be to do. There are loads of great stories happening every day, all over the school, but it is not possible for one marketer, or a small team, to be there to capture them all. So, why not bring in the staff that will be there to help capture and share these stories?!!

We promote platforms such as Twitter as an effective way to do this. It is quick to learn, quick to use and requires nothing more than a mobile / tablet device.

If used well, as part of a school marketing strategy, it gives teachers and the school an opportunity to show the world what they teach and what their pupils are learning / doing.

[2] Work towards your CPD

Using social media in this way opens up one other facet of your teachers' career - their Continuing Professional Development (CPD). 

In lieu of lots of paper work and portfolios, teachers can visually prove the learning activities they engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. In particular, this revolves around best practice techniques and ideas sharing (two core methodologies required as part of CPD).

Take a look at Steve Bambury's Twitter account as a great example. Steve is the head of digital learning and innovation at JESS Dubai, an independent British school in the UAE.

[3] Always wear your 'school' hat

While we fully encourage teachers to:

  • get on social
  • share #SchoolStories
  • connect and engage with peers
  • share resources

we want to make it clear that these school accounts are school accounts! They should be treated as professional channels.

To ensure that yourschool account remains just this, here are a few basic rules to follow:

  • don't post personal opinions (particularly on inflammatory topics). You may disagree with a new government scheme but does it have a place coming from your school? Remember, what you post represents your school
  • don't share inappropriate material. Keep it professional and relevant to your department at all times
  • if you have a personal profile, keep it personal. For teachers, we recommend making personal accounts private. Parents and pupils can (and most likely will) try and find you, so if there are a few embarrassing pics it's best they stay memories between you and friends - not the school community! To see what we mean, try Googling yourself and see just what comes up.

[4] Work as a team 

As colleagues, forming a professional community, you will want to see everyone succeed in their roles.

When it comes to social, some people will get it and others will find it harder to understand. It's only natural. To help your professional community operate smoothly then, the "champions" of social media should help those less inclined to using the platform.

As well as this, the relationship between the marketing team and teaching staff should be collaborative. Teachers can push the story-led content and marketing can drive the brand and what they are looking to promote about the school.

[5] Know your school's policies on safeguarding

Safeguarding your pupils is paramount! Your school will have policies that covers important factors, such as:

  • how to correctly use mobile devices to capture pictures / videos of pupils
  • what can and cannot be shared online (such as names or locations)
  • the pupils who cannot have pictures / videos of them shared at all

Understanding these rules is incredibly important! It will boil down to the school's SLT to ensure all staff are aware of safeguarding policies, and updated when there are modifications.

[6] Learn social media so you can teach social media

You may dislike social media and see it as the downfall of humanity, but your pupils do not! For most, they have grown up in a world where there is no other way to communicate - social media is as important to them as water, food and having a roof over their heads. 

It falls to you then, the teacher, to ensure your pupils are safe online. Just by using social media, you can begin to understand their world a little more intimately; and as adults you are better placed to define right from wrong, good from bad.

A good exercise is to read the terms and conditions you quickly click past when you sign-up for Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat etc. Take a look at what you are agreeing to - you will likely be really surprised! 


The time old adage that gets instilled in your pupils almost every day. You teach it vehemently, and now is the time to live it! 

Social media gives you the perfect opportunity to show what you, as a teacher, are teaching to your pupils. Parents will want to see this, as it brings them closer to their kids and the school - your community.

If you are teaching it!

This 43 second video will do more to demonstrate what two pupils are doing in their education than just saying, "We are doing a Shakespeare play for drama."


Teachers - we WANT to see you all on social media. What are your thoughts on what social can offer schools - both as a teaching aid and as a marketing tool? Please comment below.

The top 10 HMC schools on Twitter: What are they doing right?

Each year, during the very busy school conference season, we boot up our #SocialScore tool and analyse how schools are performing on Twitter.

This year, we wanted to share our findings - taking a more analytic approach to what the top Tweeting schools are doing to be hitting a high #SocialScore.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 HMC schools on Twitter. 

Top 10 (listed)


First impressions: Basic principles of a good Tweet

Take a look at the Moment above, showcasing the top Tweets from the schools in our top 10 list. What do you notice?

For us, these Tweets adhere to best practice techniques for good content:

  • each Tweet contains visual content (pictures and videos)
  • most make use of Mentions or Hashtags
  • they all reflect school culture - this is the content your community WANTS to see over anything else

These are three very simple rules to help craft your Tweets. Understanding and following these rules can help improve your #SocialScore.

Looking deeper: Developing a content strategy for Twitter

Let's take a look at Nottingham High School, one of the top 10 HMC schools on Twitter, and see what trends we can identify in their feed.

Again, their feed is filled with visual content. The content is engaging to their community because it is for their community! There are videos of and about the school, and lots of pictures of pupils.

Most importantly though, they are sharing #SchoolStories because they have an effective strategy in place. You can see a large portion of the main account's Tweets are in fact retweets from their other school accounts.

These school "sub-accounts" are run primarily by teachers (not the marketing team). It works because staff are capturing stories as they happen throughout the day - something that one or two marketing individuals simply cannot hope to do on their own. 

For more information on how teachers can use Twitter - something we are strong advocates for - take a look at our Start with Twitter: Monitoring #SchoolStories article.

Looking at the winner: A strong school community (on Twitter)

How about Bablake School (this year's number 1 HMC school on Twitter) - what can we learn from them? 

Bablake adhere to the same best practice rules noted above:

  • visual content
  • mentions and hashtags
  • lots of #SchoolStories
  • school's main account is retweeting content from departmental school accounts

What sets them apart however, is how they have fostered a strong school-wide culture for sharing resources on Twitter.

Take a look - you will notice shared articles and blogs; or posted infographics and illustrations. These are resources that Bablake's staff have curated themselves - to share on Twitter and deliver opinion or create conversation with their peers

This is the beauty of social media, and in particular Twitter. It is also a fantastic way for teachers to actively demonstrate their own CPD! 

What can we do for you?

Social media training for your staff is important. The impact of your school (and staff) using a platform like Twitter can be seen just by looking at these 10 awesome school Twitter accounts.

We are here to help! We see the future of school marketing residing within social media and want to see more schools sharing their unique, amazing #SchoolStories with the world.

We offer training days for schools - where we will come and talk to the whole school, to inspire their part in marketing and sharing all those great #SchoolStories. We will help define a strategy that can be employed across the entire school - making you ✨stand out✨ from your competitors. Pretty cool right!

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this topic. Please comment below. Thanks for reading. 😃