Thinking of using Facebook as a communication tool for your school? Think again.
When money is tight, it can be tempting to look for “free” solutions to meet your operational needs. Unfortunately, nothing is ever truly free. While it is possible for schools to use tools like Facebook to keep parents informed, there are hidden costs in doing so that could leave your parents in the dark.
Here are just a few of the ways it pays to invest in a purpose-built school app like School Stream.
1. Parents miss important information
Using Facebook to deliver school news, notifications and alerts relies on parents being pro-active. They need to keep a constant eye on new posts to avoid missing out. There is no way to highlight a particular post as urgent or important, and as Facebook hides some posts after a time, parents might miss out altogether.
School Stream is purpose-built to ensure parents receive messages when they need them. Parents are alerted by push notifications of urgent issues—you don’t have to rely on them stumbling across your post in their news feed or going to your Facebook page to find it.
2. Information is difficult to find on Facebook
There is no way to categorise or search for posts within Facebook. As Facebook uses its own algorithms to store and display information to different users, schools have no way of sorting information. Parents may need to scroll blindly until they find what they are looking for—provided the post hasn’t already disappeared.
A purpose-built app such as School Stream stores all the information parents need in obvious categories, such as Newsletters, Events and so on, to make it easy for parents to find what they need. Schools can decide what categories to use and parents can choose what they want to see.
3. Facebook owns your content
Facebook, and programs like it, retain ownership and control of the content you post. Anything you post must meet Facebook guidelines, and once posted, Facebook (and anyone Facebook chooses to partner with) now owns and can use your content as they see fit.
With School Stream, you retain complete ownership over your content, and can rest assured School Stream won’t use or sell it.
4. Facebook controls your information
Facebook uses algorithms to determine what information to display to its users, for how long, and in what order that information appears. Facebook bumps certain posts to the top of a user’s news feed (usually sponsored or paid posts), and shunts others below, particularly posts that link to external content, for instance, your school’s website. Some posts (determined by Facebook) will only display for a limited time.
This means Facebook, not your school, chooses the information parents are likely to see. Your urgent message about school closures might only appear to a handful of people, or only for a few hours. To make sure your post is seen, you might find you have to pay to have it “boosted”, so that your “free” service isn’t so free after all.
With School Stream, you determine what information your users see, in what order, and for how long it displays. There are no penalties for linking to external websites, and you retain control of your posts, at no extra cost.
5. Using Facebook will add to your workload
When parents can’t find information on Facebook they will contact you. Instead of saving you time and money, using Facebook will create support work for your staff.
In addition, staff will need to respond to the comments and questions that your posts invariably attract. Posts that remain unanswered are likely to generate still more work from anxious parents who race to telephone or email you.
Over a month, that is likely to generate upwards of 20 hours in community management work alone. (In comparison, School Stream costs less than the equivalent of two hours in staff costs per month).
School Stream is designed with schools and parents in mind. It delivers content in a way that makes sense to parents, which means they can find information when they need it. Using School Stream reduces time spent answering queries, compiling and distributing paper notices and delivering information to parents, saving you money and freeing up staff from low-value tasks.
In our experience, schools who have tried Facebook have quickly discovered it just doesn’t cut it. Facebook is designed as a social networking tool, not to deliver targeted, reliable communication, and ultimately creates more work than it saves.