A few tips can help educators tackle social media.

With social media networks ubiquitous in American life, it’s time to shift the debate from whether it’s a good idea for educators to use this new medium to how to use it wisely and well. Here are 10 tips to help get you started in social media for school communications.

1. Use social media networks as a research tool.

To quote a well-known advertising campaign, “Get out there.” Social media are easy to use, and most sites don’t charge a penny. If you do nothing else, find out what others are saying about you, your school(s), and your profession.

2. Do your homework first.

Find out if your school or district has any policies or guidelines regarding employee use of social media. Make sure everything you do online is in keeping with these and other pertinent policies and procedures, as well as state and federal laws or regulations governing school personnel and acceptable use of technology.

3. Start with one site and go from there.

LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, TeacherTube: Pick one and start posting. Update at least once daily. How much time can typing 140 characters take?

4. Make it official.

Use social media outlets as an extension of your professional life and as an additional way to share important information with key audiences and stakeholder groups. Create an official page. Include your school and district logo, as well as links to your organization’s websites and official social media sites.