The Benefits of Social Networking For Teachers and Schools

A lot of teachers I know are afraid of the Internet, but mainly of social networking. Even young ones!

I understand that school lawyers and administrators get jumpy about it. I understand that teachers are reluctant to learn how one more thing works. However, social networking isn’t going away and smart teachers and schools can use it to their advantage.

Schools and teachers need to realize that the plugged-in world thrives on quick information and expanding online social connections. Schools and teachers that can take advantage of these can build their “brand” online in a variety of ways through social networking.

A school in the area was receiving bad press because of a problem that was pretty much out of their control. Negative comments were swirling on Facebook and Twitter, yet the school’s administration (and most teachers) were oblivious because of their fear of and hostility to social networking. At the time I suggested the school should embrace social networking to regularly pump out positive images of the school “brand” and keep people informed (and nicely respond to inaccuracies by reminding people that someone at the school would be glad to answer any questions). Instead the problems just snowballed.

Social Networking is all about creating a perception, which some people consider negative. Others know it is a great way to control the perception people have of a brand or institution. This includes you! As a teacher, you are a brand. I view my social networking profiles as a way of marketing myself, as a professional, friend, etc. I have a chance to shape the public perception of myself, and by doing so, I reinforce myself as a popular and effective teacher. While I never “friend” current students (this is a boundary I believe all teachers should enforce), I often am friends with their parents on social networking sites. While I keep all official correspondence on school email, I continually build “goodwill” through social interactions with parents and community members.

Social Networking allows schools and teachers to build goodwill, create a positive brand image, and respond positively and quickly to negative rumors. And, let’s be honest, it also allows you to keep an eye on the pulse of the school community. See, social networking is not some “new-fangled” tool of the devil after all.

About David Bennett

David Bennett is a teacher, author, and speaker. His articles receive over a million hits per year and have appeared in a variety of publications. He is co-owner of a communication company, and he also writes for The Popular Teen and other sites. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.