How one ECEC service is using TikTok to revolutionise connection and engagement
TikTok, a short-form video sharing app which allows users to create and share 15 second to three minute videos on any topic, has changed the landscape of many popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
Recently The Sector connected with Sienna Mifsud, Centre Director at Goodstart Fortitude Valley, to learn more about how her service is using the platform to connect with enrolled families, professional peers and the broader community, highlighting the aspects of their practice and space which are unique and the wonders of being an early learning educator.
Motivated by children’s experience
One of the primary drivers for Ms Mifsud establishing a TikTok channel was to share the magic of working in early childhood, and to give a visual representation of what it is like to be a child accessing early childhood education and care (ECEC).
“We want to showcase what it’s like to be a child in our setting,” she began.
“Through TikTok, the parents and community around us are able to view our centre through the children’s eyes.”
Content is created which showcases elements of the service that demonstrate its play philosophy, the ‘yes’ environments, and days spent in outdoor classrooms.
“We hope to educate others and bring to light new and improved ways of working in a holistic way,” Ms Mifsud explained.
TikTok represents a shifting demographic
When asked about the main drivers for choosing TikTok, Ms Mifsud said that the main reasons were to increase the reach of the high-quality learning experiences offered by the service and to engage with different demographics in a fun and creative way
“The world of social media is ever changing and TikTok is a modern and new platform that is experiencing a surge of engagement,” she said. “TikTok can be an upbeat platform that we feel reflects who we are as a centre and encourages us to be ourselves.”
An unanticipated outcome has been the positive influence participation in the platform has had on educator wellbeing. The educators have enjoyed getting involved and sharing their work and as well as showcasing the impact early learning has on a child’s life.
Engagement on the service’s TikTok channel has been promising, with some videos having over 50,000 views.
Addressing confidentiality concerns
A non-negotiable for all ECEC teams when it comes to engaging with social media platforms is safeguarding the confidentiality of children and educators, and their rights to privacy, while also addressing the very real logistical considerations around media permissions from children, team members, and families.
The comfort level of educators and other professionals within the space is also an important consideration for many, with individuals having various perspectives on privacy and experience with social media. We asked Ms Mifsud how these concerns were addressed at Goodstart Fortitude Valley.
“We ensured that our educators were heard on how they would like to show up in social media and made sure that they felt confident to be involved,” she began.
Overall, it has been embraced by the incredibly diverse team and they look forward to their spotlight video, sharing their ideas for potential upcoming content and building recognition for their work.
In terms of protecting children, she acknowledged that the content created will potentially reach millions of people. As such, the team is careful to maintain confidentiality, mostly only showing children’s busy hands exploring the activities, and ensures children’s health and safety is paramount.
“We have also been conscious of the family and community perception of TikTok and how that is used and ensuring that our videos are done in a respectful manner that ensures privacy,” Ms Mifsud added.
So far the service has shared its Centre Leadership Introduction video, individual room introductions, and using the platform to highlight aspects of uniqueness in the service, such as its sensory room, community pantry, and art studio sessions.
A new way to connect with prospective families and previous service users
TikTok has hooked audiences around the world, and the Fortitude Valley centre has enjoyed shifting the perspective of early childhood educators as babysitters to professionals that do incredibly valuable work.
TikTok as a channel allows the service to amplify the importance of early learning and the impact that attending a high-quality service can have on setting a child up for success in life, sharing that message globally as well as showcasing the beautiful relationships between children and educators and the amazing experiences at a centre level.
The reaction to the channel, Ms Mifsud said, has been overwhelmingly positive.
Families and educators are following the TikTok journey, with some even putting their hand up to be involved and offering content creation ideas.
“It’s really exciting to have that kind of involvement from families, strengthening our relationships and opening up a whole new side of parent input.”
“We were surprised at the different lenses that people have when they view our videos. It’s interesting to see what resonates with people and what might get missed. We follow the comments diligently and ensure we are always following policies. It’s important to us that people comment and engage.”
Comments from people who have worked with Fortitude Valley educators in the past have “sung their praises” but Ms Mifsud’s favourite moments are when comments come in from those who attended the service when they were younger, sharing their memories.
Prospective families touring the service have also made links to the TikTok channel.
“We have had families attend their centre tours and when we opened the door to our sensory room they said “Ohhh, I have seen this on TikTok”,” Ms Mifsud shared, “so those are really great affirming moments. It is something that people talk about and remember. Families are seeking us and then coming out to check out our spaces.”
Connections are being made with the ECEC professional community, with likes and follows from around Australia and across the world.
To view content from Goodstart Fortitude Valley on TikTok please see here.
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