Understanding social media for child care
Social media is a fast and effective way to communicate to your families, local community and even potential staff. It’s your chance to put your digital footprint on an online world through a virtual community of like-minded people.
If you’re thinking about a social media strategy for your early childhood education centre, here are some tips to get you started.
Why is it important?
During the past five years, social media use has increased exponentially – Facebook by 200%1, Twitter by 660%2 – and today people spend more time on social media than any other internet activity3.
Know your audience
Before you post, think about:
- Who are you writing to?
- What topics interest them?
- How do they think?
- Where do they live?
- Why do they follow you?
- When do they read your posts?
Your key messages are your main communication objectives. Are you supportive, inclusive, caring, compliant, experienced, knowledgeable, in demand? Think about how you want your child care centre to be seen and actively seek opportunities to include these key messages.
Once you’ve worked out what you want to say, find stories, words and images that represent this – a funny quote, an interesting fact or a colourful story from the day can bring your centre to life. Promote upcoming events and activities. Ask questions that encourage interaction and engagement.
Set up Google Alerts for your industry and your local area for daily or weekly news updates in your inbox. You can also watch the news, listen to the radio, read industry magazines, talk to people and regularly search social media with your key words to find stories. You never know where inspiration will strike.
Pictures are often more widely shared than words on social media. High quality and clear images are essential. You may choose beautiful photographs, funny cartoons or advertising brochures – whatever matches your key messages.
When posting photos of children, it’s important to remember their privacy. Always seek parental consent and it is also a good idea not to link names and faces of children, especially full names. Visit Child Family Community Australia for more on using images of children and young people online.
Creating a closed or secret Facebook group with content that is only visible to members is a good idea for enhanced privacy.
To make your social media strategy work, you need to post regularly so it’s important it fits into your life. Find a time of the day that works for you – first thing in the morning after your emails when you’re fresh or in the evening on the couch with your smart phone – and get into the habit of regular posting. Social media takes time to grow an audience but the more regularly you post and engage, the faster your audience will grow.
Find local partners, government bodies and industry associations and work to establish an online relationship. Reweet, share, comment and like stories, ideas and images that relate to your brand and its key messages. When relevant, tag other people or organisations in your own content. However, ensure the brands and people you are aligning yourself to are appropriate.
Respond to anyone that takes the time to comment – thank people for positive comments and invite negative comments to be discussed offline. Unfortunately trolls, or repeatedly negative posters, do exist online. The best way to respond is to delete or ignore these comments, or as they say, “don’t feed the trolls”.
Keep it simple
Avoid industry speak or complicated terminology. It’s fine to use short or half sentences and eliminate unnecessary words or phrases.
The final check
Read your words aloud to yourself – it’s a great trick to noticing errors. It’s also a good idea to get someone else to review your work before posting.
Achieving goals means constantly re-evaluating your work to find out what works. Over time, you can review your social media strategy by looking at:
- What times of the day are best for engagement?
- Who are your most engaged followers and why?
- What type of content is generating the most interest?
- Are your key messages conveying your communication needs?
- What are other brands doing that works well?
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