by Andrea Edwards – The Digital Conversationalist
I attended a UWCT workshop for parents on advocacy this week, which was run by Muchanga (Mu) Zebron. It was fantastic information and I felt compelled to write more on it, to ensure our whole community understood this critical (and essential) opportunity to help our school succeed.
To provide some context, up to 90 per cent of families that come to UWCT arrive through a recommendation from parents already at the school. Yes 90 per cent! This means the school can have the best marketing and communications in the world, the best leaders, teachers, curriculum, stories and more, but the real impact and potential for growing our school comes through us – the parent community.
The social age tipped the world on its head. Today, the five most valuable and trusted sources for information are family, friends, social media connections, influencers and colleagues. We are all at least one of these categories within our community on social media and this is the power of influence today. We, the people.
We all see the negative side of social media, but the positive side is where I focus and in my work with large companies, I teach employees about their role as advocates for their business. But it’s not meaningless advocacy, it’s also not PR, it’s real, authentic, emotional and powerful advocacy. You speak up and share because you feel strong emotions tied to your message. It’s truly from the heart.
All of us can be advocates for the school and all of us can contribute to making the school more successful too. Because every single one of us has a voice and influence within our communities, and that is why parents as advocates for UCWT is an essential requirement for the future of the school.
The more successful our school is, the better it is for our children and for our community. Equally, when we attract families to the school, we attract like-minded people. People who understand that the very special and unique education our children are receiving will set them up for life, as future leaders, who care about the world, humanity and service. One day my boys will thank me for the education they are receiving, I know that. I expect yours will too.
First job, the school social media pages – follow them
Here’s six tips to get moving
- To succeed digitally, we must always take care of Google – Google = strong SEO = stronger Web presence which makes UWCT findable in searches. It’s very important. How can we help? We provide parent reviews on the UWCT Google page – it’s a game changer. Remember to give it five stars too
- Then the Facebook page – leave a review there. Try and tell people why the school is meaningful to you. Tell a story people want to read. Stories are more meaningful than anything else
- More broadly, share your stories and experiences on your social media channels. Did your child have an amazing experience at camp? How did you feel about multi-cultural day? Have they embraced mindfulness? As an example, my son Jax told me he sat in the mindfulness centre before the cross-country to get his mind ready. I didn’t even know about mindfulness until I was in my 30s – how lucky are our kids? Think about what is happening that’s a special experience for your children? Something you want other’s to know and understand?
- Share the school’s social media posts, but don’t forget to write your reflections on what is being shared, why it’s meaningful to you. When you share the school posts, you drive your audience back to the school’s social pages, but equally, all of the photos/videos are approved for sharing
- When sharing anything related to the school, tag the school. This means putting @ and writing UWC Thailand (see below) – if the school has a social media page on this channel, the option to copy the school into the post will pop up. The marketing team appreciate this. If the school is not on the social media channel you use (they just can’t be everywhere), make sure you use hashtags – see next point
- Use the school hashtags! In the simplest terms, hashtags align conversations and also add to the back end of the Internet, which helps increase the SEO. You can also see what other’s are writing too – go to your favorite social media channel, type #UWCT into the search bar and you’ll see who else is sharing on the school
Examples of hashtags – they are many and numerous. My advice is to use a maximum of three, except on Instagram, where you can use up to 10.
#UWCT #UWC #IB #fitness #sport #stayCuriousUWCT #UWCThailand #education #experientialLearning #deliberateDiversity #community #GoodheartBalanceMindHealthyBody #GoManta #outdooreducation #ibpyp #fieldtrip #expedition #MYP #PYP #LearningCommunity #History #Geography #Mathematics #Learners #Service #Pride #sailingProgramme #CCA #ECA #Nursery #Thanyapura #Phuket #Thailand #BestIBSchoolInThailand #OnlyIBSchoolInPhuket #Arrowsmith #Learningdifficulties #Neuroplasticity #Education #learningdisabilities #Giving #Kindness #MakeADifferenceEveryday #Swim #FINA
Some points to remember
Child safety/privacy – there are children at UWCT who can not be featured on social media, for many reasons. If you do not know if the parents are happy to have their children featured, just share photos of your own children. If the school publishes photos or videos, these are ok to share. If you are unsure, ask Mu before posting.
Don’t argue or fight – no one wins an argument on social media. So don’t fight, don’t argue and if someone is criticising the school, ignore it. Yes I take it personally too, but it’s better to add something positive, than it is to start something ugly. If someone is asking for school recommendations, just add your thoughts on why UWCT is awesome and leave anything negative alone.
Be kind – always be kind and respectful on social media, especially when referencing anything to do with the school. For big corporations I recommend they align to the company values, for us, we can align to the school mission and values. Here’s the school’s value statements for reference.
Have fun – the world is a serious place, so let’s make it lighter and share our love for the school, for our community, for Phuket and for the world! We can be beacons of light in a time of darkness.
There you go, a few thoughts on how we can all help the school succeed. If you are connected to me on social media, you know I do all of this (and more) because I really believe in the positive power of social media. I also believe in the message I’m sharing.
For our family, UWCT has been a life-changer for our boys, and for us too. We love the school and how it’s positively impacted our boys, and we adore the community we get to be part of. That means sharing this love comes naturally, because we are so grateful to be here in Phuket and for our boys to get this beautiful education. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way towards the school.
A final point, don’t forget we can take this beyond our school too, supporting our local businesses who are struggling through this time, helping them to hold on tight until this crisis is over. That is a gift we can all give each other right now, but let’s start by doing it for the school first.
Let me know if you have any questions? Always happy to help in this area.
Andrea T Edwards, CSP, The Digital Conversationalist, is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), and globally award-winning B2B communications professional, who works with the world’s largest companies on the transformation needed within to maximize business growth in our digital future. A change agent, provocateur, author, passionate communicator and social leader, Andrea’s book ‘18 Steps to an All-Star LinkedIn Profile’ is on two Book Authority listings as the ‘100 Best LinkedIn Books of All Time’ and ‘22 Best New LinkedIn eBooks To Read In 2021.’ Her next book – Uncommon Courage – will be launched any day now, and it’s a deeper reflection on life, plus an invitation to courage, so we can tackle the biggest issues the world is facing, together. Andrea was a board member on the UWCT Transition Board.