It’s every school’s biggest fear. Someone takes their dissatisfaction with the school to a whole new level by bashing your district on your school’s Facebook page.
After thousands of posts with over a dozen school districts, I can honestly say that 99.9% of the time, the comments are positive. The amazing stories of your students and the encouraging feedback received put a smile on so many faces.
But with that said, it is a valid worry. You may be really stressed out if you don’t have a written policy for handling these issues. Rather than wait until something happens, schools should create a plan for dealing with these instances before they arise. Here are five things to keep in mind:
- Document a complete flowchart on how to respond – click here. Special thanks to author Kristin Magette who originally shared her process of developing this through her book “Embracing Social Media – A Practical Guide to Manage Risk and Leverage Opportunity.” I think every school leader and communications staff member should read this book!
Ensure someone is monitoring the comments. Social media is not a 9 to 5 (or 7:30 to 3:30) job. Someone on your team should be watching the interaction during non-school hours, or negativity and false information could escalate quickly. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have settings to automatically alert you when there is activity on your site. Make sure that those are turned on and that you have a point person to take responsibility if something develops.
Develop a standard response that can be followed. Thanking the person for bringing the issue to your attention is the first step. Then you can follow it up with an invitation to discuss the issue in more detail offline. #SocialSchool4EDU often shares this example of a complaint in regards to school being canceled due to weather.
“Thanks for bringing up your concern in regards to school being canceled today. The safety of our students and staff is one of our highest priorities at ABC School District. The decision to cancel school today was based on several factors and we would be happy to discuss these if you’d like to contact the administrative office at 555-5555.”
Don’t get into a war of words on social media. And make sure that your staff doesn’t either. It can be tempting to call out misinformation when you know the other side of the story, but there can often be privacy matters for students or staff involved.
Fill the social media channels with positive stories! The best way to get beyond a negative comment is to fill up your social media channels with amazing students, fun videos, and staff stories that will yield positive feedback.
Social media is meant to be social. When you receive comments, whether they are positive or negative, this is a great thing for your school. Building up the conversation and letting people be heard is important.
I hope you feel equipped to go forward in confidence. And don’t forget to grab this template for your school to follow on how respond to comments. Share it with your entire staff. You’ll sleep better tonight if you do!