5 ways for schools to engage with parents on social media

Great things happen when parents get involved in their child’s education. Not only does the school benefit from the support, but research shows [1] that it even helps academic achievement.

Unfortunately, traditional forms of parental engagement (e.g. Parent-Teacher conferences or sending a note home) don’t make much of an impact these days.

And yes, you can blame the Internet for this disruption.

These traditional methods still add some value. But that number is waning as more of the population becomes dependent on digital communication. Things like Facebook and Twitter aren’t restricted to the younger generation anymore.

Getting active on social media platforms gives your school unparalleled access to parental engagement. It’s time to embrace this powerful technology. Are you ready?

1. Reach Out to Parents

First things first, make sure to let the parents know about your social media plans. Send a letter home or shoot off an email blast with an announcement of this new engagement strategy.

It’s about getting them involved. Your efforts won’t go very far if you don’t let parents know your intentions. Getting them informed from the beginning helps ensure the success of your social media efforts for the school.

How schools are ALREADY doing this:

Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls uses beautifully designed HTML email newsletters to send parents updates with what is happening - their latest news, photos, videos, tweets. 

These dynamically pull through from their content/social channels. You mean to say they don’t spend hours putting this all together? That’s right. 10 mins. Max.

Notice at the bottom: connect with us.

This is parent engagement.


2. Share Helpful Information

Once you’ve built up the launch, it’s time to write some posts. One of the best things your school can do is provide helpful, timely information.

And sometimes that means not promoting your school’s agenda.

Share articles, videos and news that will assist parents in their child’s educational goals. The Internet is full of information that would provide immense value to parents and students.

How schools are ALREADY doing this:

Bedford Girls’ School use their homepage to pull through their stories. Their Headmistress writes thought-provoking blog posts not just for the pupils, but for the wider community. 

This is challenging people’s thinking. This is educating.


3. Broadcast Vital Updates

Emergencies, bad weather and unplanned events happen. Social media can be a great channel for getting that information out as quickly as possible.

Parents need this type of vital information from an authoritative and accurate source. What better way to ease everyone’s nerves than sharing this news directly from the school’s official social networking account?

How schools are ALREADY doing this:

Bedford Girls’ School use Facebook (and almost all social channels!!) to update parents with what is happening at the school. This is where parents spend their time.

Need to get information to parents instantly? Send it to where they spend their time - mobile and social.


4. Pull Back the Curtain

This is a go-to technique for many educational institutions. In times past, the yearbook/annual magazine staff would take pictures all year, then choose a select few for the yearbook/magazine.

In the digital age, you don’t have to wait until summer to share these images.

Parents can get a behind-the-scenes look at the classroom culture, student achievements and events. Don’t be afraid to post these kinds of things on social media.

How schools are ALREADY doing this:

Take a look at how NLCS Jeju use their Jeju Live channel to pull through all of their social activity into a beautiful feed on their website.

THIS is how to communicate to parents in a social world.


5. Open the Doors of Communication

In an ideal world, social media provides a two-way street of communication with your school and the parents. You should encourage them to get involved through likes, comments and shares.

And don’t forget, it goes both ways.

Actively respond to any social media correspondence from parents. That’s the only way to truly build this program into an active, thriving community.

How schools are ALREADY doing this:

See how @AnnHaydonSHS, Principal of @SurbitonHigh, uses Twitter to communicate with parents. Click ‘Tweets & Replies’ to see how she engages with their community. 

This is how parents expect to communicate in 2015.


Active involvement on social media can lead to a many benefits for students, parents and the school. How are you investing in parental engagement in a social world? 

Let us know on Twitter @intSchools.

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[1] Research taken from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020099/