How schools can embrace the benefits of social media

Social media can be a valuable tool to help schools connect and engage with their communities. But just getting started can be intimidating for new users. Which channel is best for which purpose and how can pitfalls be avoided?

Marcellin College in Melbourne has achieved great success through its social media strategy, becoming the most followed secondary school on Twitter.

Deputy Principal Adriano Di Prato explains the college’s approach to social media, the benefits and opportunities of the channels it uses, and how other schools can get involved.

How do you use social media in your school (which channel)?

Marcellin utilises a range of social media to connect to different segments of our community. We use Twitter and LinkedIn to connect to parents, staff, Old Collegians and their families, businesses and other educational settings. We use YouTube to post videos that connect to our students, we use Facebook for a specific social justice award we promote to Old Collegians. We also use Instagram for promoting Visual Arts.

What is your following on social media (followers/likes)?

Marcellin remains the most followed secondary school on Twitter with an average of 500,000 views per month and over 3,659 followers.

Why did you start using social media in this way?

Without question, social media is the phenomenon of our time. One can’t ignore its reach and capacity to help us connect, collaborate and engage. We decided to use social media to share our remarkable story as a Catholic learning community, sharing broad opportunities and successes by our students and staff.

Social media is consistent with the college’s marketing guidelines and supports our desire to maintain the strength and brand of our college identity. It also supports our presence and attention in a competitive marketplace.

Our college has integrated Twitter into our online communication strategy, not as a marketing tool (a natural by-product, yes), but primarily as a platform to engage with our community. We use it to celebrate the diversity of all in our community, showcasing skill, ability, participation and family spirit. Twitter is the best way to connect with people and express ourselves, allowing our entire community to discover what’s happening. Twitter also helps our community create and share ideas and information, all posted in real time, inviting discourse and greater relationship connectivity.

Has your use of social media changed over time? Why?

The frequency of our use of Twitter has successfully been maintained by a larger group of key staff , who tweet and promote the rich and diverse opportunities at our school.

We’re also always reviewing new platforms and considering how they could enhance learning, community, relationships and connectivity.

What benefits does social media offer your school, its staff or its students?

It allows us to “control” our message and share our story with a broader community beyond our local context. It has also allowed for greater collaboration with educators and other Marist schools across the globe.

Our marketing strategy is fundamentally about making lasting and memorable connections.

We have over 90,000 visits per month to our website, with approximately 27% new visitors: based on Google Analytics, 85% of all new traffic to our website per month (primary message platform) comes directly from our social media platforms. These are impressive statistics.

How can other schools get involved?

Just do it!, but ensure that your social media use is part of a comprehensive communication and marketing strategy, which incorporates online, print and in-person methods.

Do you have any advice on the pitfalls or opportunities involved with the use of social media?

Research the best fit for your learning community – don’t just go with the biggest or latest fad. It’s important to understand that any social media strategy takes time to implement and cultivate in order to gain currency and authenticity.

Consideration must be given to a strategy and process to curate rich media content and commit time, each day, and to posting content that connects and engages.

Adriano Di Prato, Deputy Principal, Marcellin College

Marcellin College is a leading independent Catholic secondary school for boys in Melbourne, established by Marist Brothers in 1950. Explore Marcellin College’s Twitter activity @Marcellin


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