Does Your Child Care Service Have a Social Media Policy?

We are seeing great success in the education industry in building online communities through social media. I’ve noticed this year in conversations with child care owners and directors that there are a few child care services without social media controls in place.

The corporate sector now understands that transparency is the new world order in communications. Control of the brand is gone. It’s a world where the institutions must saddle-up beside their community and become part of the conversation as an equal. Parents have always shared their views on child care services (word of mouth, after all, is not new), but now it’s being done with the amplification and distribution of social media.

It is important all members of your community share common understandings about digital citizenship and pro-social behaviours on social media. Policies should contain a statement of the shared responsibility of staff and families to model positive online behaviours and address poor behaviours.  The content should be consistent with your child care service’s behaviour management policies.

Common understandings that may be incorporated into your policy on social media include:

  • Definition of social media
  • Types of behaviour expected when using social media
  • Types of behaviour that are unacceptable when using social media
  • Actions to be taken by anyone experiencing a negative situation on social media
  • Actions to be taken by bystanders who witness a negative situation on social media

These questions will help guide the development of your social media policy:

  • Intention of the Policy. What is the purpose of the rules you’ll be setting? Is it to control the student and limit their actions, or is it to guide and collaborate with them accordingly?
  • Private or Public. Is it meant to serve as a private forum for members of the early child care services only, or can it be a bridge between this sector and the public?
  • How will social media sites be monitored, and who will be tasked to do it?
  • Incorporate or Separate. Should educators keep their “professional” lives separate from their personal activities, or do they have the right to incorporate them?
  • Policy’s Target. Do the protocols cover both families and educators, or does it only target one of the two?
  • Rules. What actions would be taken if an instructor, parent, student, or any other member of the organisation breaks the rules?
  • Past Members. How will the policy address the members who have already left the group?
  • Employee Guidelines. Will you limit staff from freely sharing and identifying their connection with your child care service when they are engaging in online socialisation?

The digital world is constantly evolving, driven by product innovation and society’s growing digital literacy. The most surprising development is that people do not visit websites in the numbers they once did. Instead, content is being pushed out and social media is creating and absorbing much of our time online.

With appropriate controls in place, your child care service can use social media to build and strengthen relationships with parents and your families, whilst strengthening your brand.

At MAXEMUS, formulating a Social Media Strategy for your centre begins by answering these questions:

– Which Social Media channels are most appropriate for our community?
– What message are we going to communicate?
– When are we going to communicate?
– Who will be allowed to communicate?

Social Media has the potential to make your brand, and it has the potential to break it. Don’t be left behind, now is the time to put proven community engagement techniques into action to increase enquiries and grow the enrolment of your preschool program.

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