A Social Media Policy for Idealists

Yesterday I was talking with a district about ways to reach various stakeholder groups, and I mentioned Social Media. I was somewhat surprised to hear that this particular district, along with some others, is creating policies staunchly opposed to reaching out to parents, students and alumni via Facebook and Twitter. Their theory is that since Social Media is blocked on district networks, it’s hypocritical to use those sites to promote their schools.

Of course, not every school is opposed to Social Media integration.  I know other districts that completely open the floodgates, allowing access to all Social Media and leveraging numerous online communities to share various types of district news.

In hopes of gaining a little more perspective, I turned to Google.  A quick search of “Social Media policies” returned several sites devoted to cataloging such policies across industries, in order to help organizations write their own policies. The good news is that there’s a ton of really good information out there. The bad news is that there’s no right answer.

My ideal policy would end up somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, but it would have serious problems with enforceability:

  1. Exercise good judgment.
  2. Remember, it’s the Internet, so other people can see your work.
  3. If you wouldn’t shout it in a room full of priests and old ladies, don’t post it online.

Districts that utilize Social Media have to be conscientious about their policies.  Is it hypocritical to ban students from using Facebook at school, while the district creates an active profile for parents and teachers?  What is an appropriate way to monitor Social Media?  Weighing the risks and benefits is a real challenge.

Does your District use Social Media?  Why or why not? And how did you arrive at your decision?

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