Over the past year, the Good News from Schools Twitter feed we run has seen a doubling in the number of schools posting content. However the vast majority of posts are still in real time and mainly from smartphone apps. Perhaps next year will see more schools using tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to manage postings at the best times for different audiences?
2. Schools will create and manage their own social media communities
A look at the entries so far to our 2015 School Marketing Survey (you can enter until 31st December!) shows a major increase in both Twitter and Facebook use (both up over 20% on last year). School social media pages now often have thousands of members and several ongoing discussions - look at St Bonaventure's or Solihull School's Facebook pages. If you want to set up your own Facebook page, here's our advice.
3. School websites will be closely integrated with social media.
With more and more schools realising the need to demonstrate (rather than just say) what makes their school different, content provided by social media is making it to the front page of school websites. Take a look at Bablake School's site for example. Many more schools have taken the first steps in this direction with an integrated Twitter feed - such as both these Whitefield Primary Schools (Liverpool and Luton).
4. Video use will increase
Video has definitely taken off on social media this year, with all major social media platforms now accepting longer videos and specialist video social media channels like Vimeo and YouTube flourishing. Apps such as Animoto have helped schools to make great videos from pictures, videos and musics. Here are a couple of great videos shared recently by schools on Twitter showing how both formal and informal videoing can be used to share key messages about schools.
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Our 2016 predictions
This will be driven both by the increasing use of social media by disgruntled parents (here's a great example) as well as a growing need to manage a school's reputation online. In addition, schools have an enhanced duty to prevent radicalisation in which social media plays a big part.
2. Schools will use social media to support staff recruitment
With staff recruitment a major challenge for schools and the costs of doing so rising steeply, schools will be looking for cost effective ways to reach potential teachers. Existing social media networks can be used to share adverts, while increasing numbers of schools are joining the specialist LinkedIn platform.
3. Live real-time video will make a real mark.
Following on from this year's increase in video use, 2016 will see more schools broadcasting live or nearly live. The days of pressing DVDs of school concerts are over, with Twitter's Periscope probably the simplest way of sharing events with busy parents while more professional live-streaming can be supplied by companies like SchoolVid.
4. Schools will use social media to advertise.
In 2015 a large number of schools tried radio advertising for the first time - chasing a busy, highly mobile audience of parents. Given that these parents (and for Sixth Form recruitment, their children) also spend a lot of time on social media, perhaps 2016 will be the year to test and evaluate advertising on social media?