This morning I got a text message from my kids' primary school. It was a reminder that this week was book week for the kids. Good stuff, I thought. I wonder where I can find more information on this? Reading on the message rounded off with 'check out the Facebook page for more info’.
Well, I did check out the Facebook page, but I couldn’t see anything. I don’t have a Facebook account (anymore), so I don’t even know if it’s a private post and only intended for those that follow the school’s Facebook page.
The school does have its own website, but it is rarely updated and close to being unreadable as it’s running on a stock Wordpress theme with a few slightly choice changes.
Did I find the information in book week?
I didn’t. I gave up. However, the lack of content isn't the issue here. The problem is the school's reliance on a single platform for communicating with parents. The school is just one of many organisations and businesses that choose to be more active on a Facebook Page than any other websites and social media accounts they might own.
The sad truth of the Internet today is that for many, it begins and ends with Facebook. There’s nothing else on the Internet that matters. If you don’t have a Facebook account, it doesn’t matter. It’s an appeal to the masses, and with most parents having a Facebook account the school has chosen to focus on updating its Facebook page.
The problem of the school using Facebook isn’t the problem though, it’s how they are using Facebook that’s the problem.
When an organisation chooses a single place to publish content they make it difficult for others to find that information. So how can organisations rectify this?
The answer is quite simple.
That’s it. Sounds easy right? Well for the school it might not be so easy.
Schools are busy. Education of the kids come first and rightly so. If the teaching staff are working with the kids, then who’s going to ensure that the website is updated?
The headmistress? Office staff? The janitor? Classroom assistants?
All these people have other duties as well, not to mention the fact that they might not have the confidence to update the website. We know that the school can update the Facebook page when it needs too, but Facebook has teams of engineers and designers who have made publishing content one of the most natural things to do on the web.
When it comes to CMS like Wordpress however, it’s a whole different matter, and that may be the reason why websites, like the school’s website, are rarely updated.
When I look at other school websites in the area, my kid's school website isn’t alone.
Schools are a hive of activity. Not a week goes by when there isn’t something on for pupils and parents to get involved in. With all this action you would think that the school websites would frequently be updated.
Facebook Pages is an easy way for many organisations and businesses to publish content, but like the school, they could be missing out the very people that want that information.
Whether you’re a school, business, a sporting club or any other organisation has a group of people following you, you’re content should start it’s publishing cycle on your own website. That’s the centre of your web presence, and as long as you invest in an excellent hosting platform and use a hosted solution or manage to keep the website up to date and in working order on your own, then you’re always going to have that space for people to turn to.
When you want to tell the world about something, put it up on your website and then share it to your social media accounts for others to see.
If you don’t like the idea of sharing to social media platforms, then start a digital newsletter that people can subscribe too. This is something that I would like to see the school implement as we’re still getting bulletins printed on paper and jammed into the kid’s school bags.
A weekly newsletter of the following week’s activities would be a great way of letting parents know what is happening at the school. And of course who doesn’t have email?
My kid's school isn’t alone in their dependency on a single social media platform. Many other organisations like it choose to focus their time and effort on a Facebook page and end up siloing their content away from others.
Don’t be a Facebook Page organisation. Invest in your own website and let that be the starting point where people come to look for updates.