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Embracing Social Media

A Practical Guide to Manage Risk and Leverage Opportunity

Kristin Magette

The suggestion of embracing social media in schools triggers a variety of reactions, from excitement to outright refusal. But teaching students and engaging families who live their lives in an increasingly digital world means the embrace of social media is no longer optional—it is imperative. Education leaders have the tremendous opportunity to leverage the rich opportunities of social media for teaching, learning, and communicating. And this work can be done safely and constructively through a risk management process built on policy, procedures, and professional development.

Embracing Social Media: A Practical Guide to Manage Risk and Leverage Opportunity is a practical guide for anyone wishing to facilitate the embrace of social media in a school system. Included are steps for creating policy, procedures, and guidelines, as well as specific strategies to help open the minds of reluctant colleagues and leaders. Also included are best practices for social media, with numerous examples for teaching and learning, professional development, communications with parents, and successfully managing difficult situations online. Key features of this book include:

  • Encouragement and support for education leaders working to bring social media into their school systems.
  • A compelling case for why social media matters to schools
  • Understanding the risks and fears of social media in schools
  • Steps to develop policy, procedures, and guidelines that manage social media’s risks and leverage its opportunities in a school system
  • Examples of how social media can be used in the classroom for teaching and learning
  • Best practices for using social media as a communications tool
  • Specific strategies for managing challenging situations on social media
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / NSPRA, National School Public Rel Assn
Pages: 116Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4758-1328-9 • Hardback • December 2014 • $42.00 • (£27.95)
978-1-4758-1329-6 • Paperback • November 2014 • $21.00 • (£13.95)
978-1-4758-1330-2 • eBook • November 2014 • $20.00 • (£13.95)
Kristin Magette is a public relations professional and director of communications for Eudora Schools in Eudora, Kansas. She serves as an officer with the Kansas School Public Relations Association and can usually be found with her husband and two young children cheering on the Cardinals in Eudora.


Why This Matters to Schools
  • Our “constantly connected” world
    • “The U.S. Digital Consumer Report,” February 10, 2014, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/reports/2014/the-us-digital-consumer-report.html.
  • Bring the Digital World Into the Classroom
  • Communicate With Parents and Patrons
  • Harness the Social Share
  • Engage With Parents
  • Support Your Employees
  • Protect Your Reputation

Why Are We Afraid?
  • Angry People Will Make Us Look Bad
  • We Need Filters to Protect Us
  • Ugly Headlines

Getting Started
  • Articulate Your Vision
    • Where Do You Want To Go?
    • What Are Your Opportunities?
    • What Are Your Challenges or Barriers?
  • Grow Your Group
  • Test the Waters

Policy: Expectations and Consequences
  • Writing Your Policy
  • Bullying and Social Media
  • Handbook Guidelines for Employees
  • Getting Your Board on Board

Procedures: Organize the Chaos
  • Information Sharing Form
    • Make It Short, Simple, and Painless
    • Embed Key Policies and Guidelines
    • Create Value for the Employee
  • Direct Support
  • Social Media Champions
  • Comments and Responses

Professional Development: Educate and Empower
  • Starting Out Right
  • The Digital Tattoo
  • Ongoing Support
    • Training New Teachers
    • Annual Reminders to All Employees
    • Occasional Inservice
    • Informal Discussion Groups
    • Social Media Champions
  • Student Privacy
  • Monitoring Accounts
  • Expand the PLN

Social Media Best Practices
  • Writing Your Post
  • Whats a Hashtag?
  • Make Sure Your Message Gets Through
    • Use Photos and Video
    • Link to Content
    • Monitor Trends
    • Facebook Algorithms
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • YouTube and Vine
  • Paying for Posts
  • Measuring Your Work
  • Be Strategic About Your Use
  • Facebook Basics

Teaching and Learning
  • Real-World Relevance
  • Hashtags to Extend the Classroom
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Partnering With Parents
  • Empowering Parents

Communicating to Families and Other Stakeholders
  • Tune into Station WII-FM
  • What Wins
  • Building a Site for Communications
  • Growing a Community
  • Let Your Fans Post
  • Community Guidelines
  • Tell Your Story

When Social Media Isnt Easy: Nasty Comments and Crisis Events
  • Ugly Comments
    • Provide a Simple, Unemotional Response
    • Privately Contact the Commenter
    • Solve Problems, but Dont Debate
  • Nasty Posts on Other Pages
  • Stand Up for Employees
  • Sharing Bad News
  • Use the Power of Social
    • Its Fast
    • Fans Are Passionate
    • People Want to Share
  • Be Prepared

Magette appears to have plenty of experience of implementing a social media policy in an American school district. There is a lot of specific advice born from experience, much of which makes good sense. Chapter Two, in particular, contains some sensitive arguments against prejudices and concerns that may be encountered when trying to pull recalcitrant communities on board, and Chapter Seven provides a useful smorgasbord of suggestions about good practice in a few social media sites. In general, it is packed with recommendations, suggestions and patterns to follow that school administrators might find useful in implementing a social media policy.
Journal of Educational Technology & Society

As educators, we cannot afford not to take advantage of this powerful resource for our students and for ourselves. This is a good addition to your bookshelf.
British Journal of Educational Technology

With Kristin guiding the way, the Eudora School District is a pioneer in the use of social media as both a communication and learning tool. Instead of giving into fears about social media, Eudora teachers and leaders embraced it through basic risk management. This book is a useful guide for boards of education, administrators, and teachers to embrace the digital world, instead of asking students to leave it at the classroom door.
Dr. John Heim, Executive Director, Kansas Association of School Boards

Students and parents expect schools to engage with them where they are -- on social media. The Eudora Schools story shows that embracing social media in schools doesn't have to be complicated or scary. And this book shows exactly how to overcome risk to deliver enormous rewards for students, teachers, and families.
Ben Smith, Principal of Social: IRL, Director of Social and Emerging Media at Callahan Creek, National Social Media Club Advisory Board member

The closer school communication is to the classroom, the more authentic it is and will become. The district spokesperson and leadership can no longer be the only people controlling the message. School communications professionals need to empower district staff members to help tell the public education story, and social media is a very relevant tool to do so.
Julie Zwahr, South Central Vice President, National School Public Relations Association

Kristin Magette provides school districts and teachers a compelling case to explore social media integration, gain better communication strategies with their local communities, and target digital citizenship learning. This practical guide not only discusses the features and benefits of social media for schools, it explores the dynamic classroom opportunities waiting through global collaboration. Any district investigating social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram should have this information and would be wise to read this book.
Dyane Smokorowski, 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year