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.

What?

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.

How?

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.

SOURCE: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2017/04/20-stats-about-the-2017-podcast-consumer.html

SOURCE: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2017/04/20-stats-about-the-2017-podcast-consumer.html

  • 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. 

Where?

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.