When I hear other districts talk about why they haven’t jumped into the social media world, it is most often because they or their district leaders fear the comments they might get. When we started, our district wasn’t much different. Regardless of this fear, we forged ahead with social media. Our philosophy was that we would rather have people tell us their opinions and concerns about an issue so we have a good pulse on the community, then talk about them in private.
To help ease the minds of our administration and protect our district at the same time, we published rules of engagement on each of our social media pages. If and when we have to remove a comment, we reference these rules, which can be found here. In reality it hasn’t been an issue for us. In nearly four years, we have removed less than 20 comments across all of our district pages.
Here are some tips in handling social media comments:
- Develop response guidelines for your district. Ours were modified from the United States Air Force response guidelines and can be found here.
- Not all comments will be negative. Most will be positive. Thank individuals for sharing their positive stories and comments. I save really good comments in a folder and use them to show the positive side of social media in education.
- Know the difference between an opinion and blatant misrepresentation of facts. Opinions are not removed from our social media sites. Not everyone will agree with district decisions, and that is ok. Use social media to understand what individuals don’t like about a decision and see if their issues can be addressed. Make sure to let individuals know you have heard their concerns. If individuals are publishing misinformation, we take the opportunity to make sure correct information is out there.
- Comments will monitor themselves. The truth of the matter is that in Nebraska, we occasionally have snow days. When we cancel school we place this information on our social media channels. Sometimes parents agree, sometimes they don’t. Often times parents who don’t agree with our decisions back down or remove their comments because other parents are praising our district for keeping kids safe.
- Not every comment needs to be answered right away. Depending on the issue, wait and see if the issue monitors itself or if you need to jump in with a response.
- If and when you do remove a comment, contact the individual. Explain to the person why the comment is being removed. In addition, if it is something that the district needs to address, like a personnel complaint or student concern, put the commenter in touch with someone who can address his or her issue.