By Beth A. Block
Have you surrendered to the Dark Side? Or are you committed to the Light? In other words, do you wield your social media saber for the light or the dark? Surrendering to the dark can get you sued, just like these studio owners below.
Our studio depends on social media to market our program and to keep our relationships with our enrolled families. Our current families use social media for everything.
The first thing a family will do after hearing about your studio is check you out on social media. They will check out your website, your social media pages, and look at your reviews before deciding whether to come to your studio.
Your instructors are also, generally, part of the generation that uses instant messaging, Twitter, Instagram, and texting. This is just as natural as breathing for them.
In one studio, this resulted in a 19-year-old instructor texting a naked picture of himself to a 16-year-old student. The instructors need to be prohibited from using their personal social media accounts for communication with students.
Personal social media accounts can shatter students’ view of instructors. We are heroes to our students. How did you feel when your sports hero was found to have moral flaws?
In one school, a 12-year-old student looked for their instructor on all the social media sites. What this kid found was the instructor clutching a red solo cup apparently containing alcohol. His eyes were glazed over and he was cozied up with two half-dressed women.
Influenced by the instructor, the student then decided that drinking and sexual promiscuity was the pathway to follow. At 15, that student was in drug rehab.
Social media can potentially cause your team members to be arrested. An employee’s pictures of students on his/her personal device can result in being arrested for child pornography. Pictures on your personal device of children you aren’t related to can lead to arrest.
In one case, a female instructor had pictures of the Little Dragons kids on her phone. One little girl was doing the “I-have-to-pee” dance, holding herself. The parents found it offensive and complained to the police. The instructor was arrested.
Social media messaging is something school owners have to contemplate in fine detail. One studio turned complete control of marketing over to an older non-student. This older individual didn’t know all the cultural views of different memes. She picked a gif that looked good.
It turned out the gif came from a snip of a movie that was highly controversial. As quick as the gif was posted, the studio found themselves in the middle of a political debate.
Social media can give you a black eye on your reviews. Parents’ perceptions change if unhappy instructors are left to decide what they say about you. Although the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act prevents you controlling what your instructors say to each other, you can control what they say to the public. Email me if you would like a copy of the law.
There are simple solutions for this problem. The studio can maintain the social media page at the leadership level. Instructors don’t have to have access for direct communication.
Meanwhile, to provide the personal communication parents want, your studio can implement an app. This app allows your school to push communication to all families or just to a single family. Instructors can use the app to maintain that personal relationship without opening their own personal social media to students and families.
Think about your exposure to liability. Protect your business, your instructors and your family. Implement policies, procedures and technology to protect yourself.
Beth Block can be reached at (800) 225-0863 or [email protected]
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