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Making the most of social media can boost a day nursery’s relationship with current parents and even create new business.
Two popular social media platforms for businesses, Twitter and Facebook, together have over 1.5 billion active users sharing pictures, information and stories with each other.
There are 288 million active twitter users sending 500 million tweets a day and over 1.35 billion people hold active Facebook accounts. Day nurseries can use these communication methods to connect with current parents to share special moments of the day and create new business by providing prospective parents with a clear idea of how the nursery is run.
Managing director for social media company Shake Social, Kate Tyler, believes the early years sector has a lot to gain from using social media as a platform to promote their business.
With pictures of most babies being posted online within one hour of being born and the most active users of Facebook now being women aged between 25 and 40, a big change has occurred in the acceptance of having child images on social media.
Using photos of children during their nursery day can be shared on social media to show parents what a typical day at nursery is like. Getting the right shot is important for nurseries, and Ms Tyler suggests capturing children carrying out activities is the best way to be successful.
Ms Tyler said: “Photos that show children engaged in something work best, for example if a child is writing, all that needs to be included in the picture is the upper body and not a full body shot.
She does warn that “nurseries should not name children in photos and prior to publishing, a photo should be checked to make sure there are no children who have not given permission in the background.
“This poses problems because some people who aren’t professionals don’t follow safeguarding procedures. If a nursery shares a picture that follows the guidelines and does not name any children, a parent might tag another parent into the picture in a well-meaning way but they are potentially creating a security issue.
“People in the age group who have spent their whole teenage years using social media see this as common place but for some older people this is still different. There are generational shifts as some of these people who are used to putting everything on Facebook are now becoming parents themselves.”
Concern about how parents will react is commonly raised by day nursery owners and managers. However social media experts claim parents are often keen to see what their child is doing whilst they are in nursery and are supportive of a nursery’s use of Twitter or Facebook when it is done properly.
Ms Tyler said: “A key reservation for most nurseries is safeguarding. “It is important to have procedures in place to ensure the safe use of social networks, and this can be done with guidance and support from local authorities and organisations such as the National Day Nurseries Association.”
Getting the consent of parents is vital for a social media campaign to be successful. Making sure the expectations of the nursery are clearly understood by parents is essential so they know how any photos taken including their child will be used. Guidance from the NSPCC can be used to create clear advice on how to use social media in a safe way.
Ms Tyler explained: “Our advice to parents is don’t give consent if you are at all concerned. It is much better for a nursery to only show half of the children but comfortably with permission from parents than showing all children and making some parents feel uneasy.”
Caron Moseley, marketing manager at nursery chain Kiddi Caru, added: “It has been known for early years practitioners to be told to ‘keep well clear’ of social media due to child protection concerns and some nursery managers have in the past been worried about this. However, these concerns are largely unfounded; the perceived risk of social media is blown out of proportion compared to the community-building benefits.”
As well as improving communication and building relationships between current parents, using social media can give the nursery a place in the community and create interest from new parents looking for a nursery that is engaging and actively sharing daily activities.
Ms Moseley continued: “All social media needs feeding so stories need to be uploaded on a regular basis with content being relevant and engaging. Facebook for example is not all about the amount of likes you receive, but the interaction from your followers.
“The challenge for our nursery managers can be that they get hung up on what makes an ‘interesting’ story for social media. They worry that if they haven’t been participating in a super special event then the story or the photograph won’t make good content. However in our experience parents just like to see what the children have been doing as part of their everyday lives – whether that is painting, participating in Sing and Sign or Going Ape for Red Nose Day.”
Ms Tyler said: “The best way it works is by showing rather than telling people what the nursery is doing. They are seeing the nursery for themselves and will imagine their child there. This is the approach which gets the best results, as opposed to endless posts telling parents about the nursery.”
Social media will be a continual project that requires the support and help from parents and staff members.
For those nurseries which lack confidence with social media or do not have staff with the correct skills to carry out a successful campaign, help is available.
Ms Tyler’s company provides a comprehensive service for nurseries, from planning engaging content to the execution and review of social media strategies.
She said: “One tip – don’t do social media in isolation. It is vital nurseries get the consent from parents, without their support it will fail. Staff are also a nursery’s best ambassador online.
“Social media is a two way street, so listening as well as acting is key.
“We have provided rescue missions for nurseries where a younger member of a team has taken on the responsibility and it has gone wrong because their choice of images and information shared has actually made the social media counterproductive for the nursery, creating the wrong image.
“Every nursery needs to be seen as professional and social media is now often the first point of call for parents who can quickly get the wrong impression if social media is not done properly.”
Nursery managers need to overcome their caution and embrace the power of social media, as it can become an integral to the nursery, improving the nursery’s reputation within its community and connecting parents to the activities that are enjoyed every day by their young children.
15 Mar 2018 9:10 PM
Yes, do not be afraid to get on social media if you are a nursery. I manage the social media accounts for a nursery that has grown from one to five nurseries within three years. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are used to build their brand awareness, engage parents and others in the early years, promote new nurseries, holiday camps, and share what they are passionate about in the industry. They've become an authoritative voice on social media and have won consecutive awards for online and social media. Don't forget your website too! https://www.bizstyler.co.uk/social-media-marketing-nursery
04 Mar 2015 5:13 PM
Great article and couldn't agree more, I manage Social Media for small businesses. I have two young children, one still attends nursery three days a week and as a parent I can see the value in this. Three of my clients are daycare nurseries, I manage and post content to their Facebook pages, create Tweets for them as well and post content on Google+ and LinkedIn. The engagement and interaction has been great, an enhanced presence on social media platforms has been really well received and has had a really positive impact on new business within the nurseries. www.ecompasssocialmedia.co.uk