The importance of a social media policy for your ECEC service
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.
Social media has become part of many people’s everyday life. If it’s managed properly, it can be an incredibly useful tool that makes it possible to spread information about your early childhood education and care (ECEC) service, and catalyse interest in your services across a wider audience.
Unfortunately, it is also a ticking time bomb if it is not managed properly in the workplace.
Are you managing your social media policy appropriately? Do you know how social media has the potential to impact your service?
Social Media: The Potential Ramifications
Your social media accounts – and even your employees’ personal social media accounts–can have a serious impact on your childcare service. Consider the following points:
Social media can create or transform your reputation
What you post on social media is ‘out there’, and a single mistake can follow you for a long time. Even if you delete a post, screenshots and other records may still exist–and parents can still find them when they’re considering whether to send their child to your service. Your reputation is everything, especially since you’re dealing with people’s children. Without your reputation, you may struggle to keep enough children coming through the doors or to attract the children and parents who make up your preferred audience.
You may unwittingly cause a breach of privacy
Many parents strictly guard their privacy. They may not want their child’s face or pictures posted on any social media platforms. They may struggle even more if you choose to reveal private information. Not only can this be a cause for legal trouble, but it can also create a poor reputation for your centre.
You may break down networking channels and ruin marketing opportunities
Social media is an excellent opportunity for networking and marketing when it goes well. When it doesn’t, however, you may convince parents that you don’t genuinely care about their needs–and if you don’t pay attention to your networking, it’s possible, in their minds, that you won’t pay attention to their child, either.
Setting Your Social Media Policies
As an ECEC service, it’s critical that your staff are fully aware of their responsibilities when using social media. In addition to a blanket policy governing the centre’s interactions on social media, you need a policy that will help cover employee social media use. Social media and technology evolve fast, and they can be difficult to keep up with. That makes it critical that you regularly review and revise your social media policies to reflect the changing needs of your employees and your centre.
Explain how personal social media use can impact the centre
Let employees know that what they post online, even on their personal social media accounts, matters. It’s not just about whether they will lose their job for failing to follow the policy: the wrong social media post could lead to a decrease in child enrollment or even get the centre shut down. This is particularly detrimental if the employee’s place of business can easily be identified.
Remind employees of child privacy rights
Many parents do not want their children on social media at all. Others prefer to do their own posting, rather than having their child’s image out there in public or on a stranger’s page. Make sure that you include signed media releases in your parent packets. If parents don’t sign them, be sure everyone knows which children are not to be featured.
Govern what can be posted
In many organisations, the wrong social media post is grounds for termination – and with good reason. Social media can be an amazing tool, but it can also have serious repercussions if used incorrectly. Let employees know what they are allowed to post about their jobs and about the centre. Institute consequences if those rules aren’t followed – and make sure you stand by those consequences. You can’t afford to let the wrong information sit out there on social media.
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