I don’t see very many School Twitter accounts and I think it’s because of one thing-we think that parents are not on Twitter!

But I see Twitter as a valuable communication tool, vital in engaging parents and establishing the school’s online identity.

So how do we use Twitter and connect with parents that haven’t yet got a twitter account?

Tell them that you can link the schools twitter account with their mobile phones!

Here are the instructions-


How to sign up to twitter by mobile phone

  • Sign up to Twitter by SMS text (3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile only)

  • Send a text message to 86444 with the word ‘START’

  • Twitter will send you a reply and ask you to reply with the word ‘SIGNUP’ to create a new account. Send the reply ‘SIGNUP’.

  • Next, Twitter will ask you to pick a username. Your username must be unique and less than 15 characters. Reply with the username you want (see below for advice on picking a

  • username).

  • You will get a confirmation message when you pick a unique username (Twitter will tell you to pick a new name if someone else has the username you wanted).

  • Choose a password.

  • Send a message and it will post as your first tweet.

  • To follow an account’s tweets, text the word ‘FOLLOW’ with the twitter name to 86444. For example if you wanted to receive my tweets by SMS you’d have to send ‘FOLLOW Ideas_factory’ 

  • Now all that account’s tweets will be sent to your number by text.

Twitter by SMS questions and answers here

It is a FREE service but some mobile providers may charge-best to ask your provider before setting up. More details about this here

You can also link Twitter to Facebook and vice-versa.

Maybe my next post should be how to set up a school facebook account!

Interested in using Twitter in Education? Go here for 100’s of links

Written by Julian S Wood - www.ideasfactory.me/about/"rel="author"
  • stuartridout

    Sounds good. We are one of those schools who don’t have a twitter account.

    My concern with this is that you are asking parents to sign up to Twitter. Have you had any parents who have said they don’t want to do this?

  • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

    Thanks for the comment Stuart.

    I completely understand your concern and yes if the school does have a Twitter account, then you are encouraging parents to use Twitter.

    I think that schools should use every means necessary to communicate with their community (and beyond). Twitter can be one of the several ‘tools’ which a school uses to communicate. Parents have a choice whether they sign up to Twitter or not because they can access one of the other ‘tools’ (such as a paper based newsletter or email service)

    I feel very passionately about schools using Social media accounts and taking control of their own digital identity (maybe that’s a discussion for another post).

    This is just one way of getting access to the School Tweets if you’re not an avid twitter user.

    • stuartridout

      Thanks for reply Julian. I don’t think I phrased my question properly.

      I agree that we should use a wide range of methods to communicate with parents. If you want them to receive SMS and they use the method above they are signing up for Twitter by stealth. Are you transparent with parents by making it clear that what they are actually doing is signing up for Twitter? Have any refused or questioned this?

      • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

        Never any problems with Parents Stuart.

        They all seem to know what they are signing up for-most ask question of cost.

        1st line of instructions is ‘Sign up to Twitter by SMS’ & hopefully most know what this means.

        Completely understand your point though & will endeavour to make process even more transparent.

  • http://twitter.com/esafetyadviser Alan

    Nice post Julian.  I entirely agree that schools should be using a number of tools to communicate; this serves a multitude of purposes.  By giving parents the choice it is their decision whether to use those tools or not, and like you say then can be cross-platform enabled; or as database programmers would say “one to many”.  I too am passionate about schools using social networking for educational as well as communication purposes, keep it up, more and more schools will come onboard.  Many (the majority) that I have spoken to are nervous about the e-safety and technological aspects, but there really isn’t much to be nervous about.

    • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

       Thankyou for the comment Alan-very much appreciated.

      I do feel that the ‘Pros’ far outweigh the ‘Cons’ in this one.

      I also think that schools need to start using social media sooner rather than later, I don’t think enough school leaders realise the future importance of a schools digital identity. Schools are in danger of missing out.

      It’ll only take some clever Social media ‘expert’ to start a School Social Media service and then ownership gone.

      It’s this ownership of social media which will ease e-safety fears.

      But if schools don’t engage then Social media becomes the fear of the unknown. 

  • http://twitter.com/ianaddison Ian Addison

    We just put our twitter feed on our school website, then people can access it if they want to. But I do like the sms idea too. 

    • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

       Thanks for the comment Ian.

      The website tweeter feed is another simple idea-again just opening communication avenues.

      Maybe you could answer Stuarts query about Parents refusing to engage with Twitter-any problems with it at your school? 

  • http://www.whitchurchprimary.org.uk/ WhitchurchPrimary

    We link our twitter to a basic facebook account and to a twitter feed on our school website. School residential trip tweeting is always a good time to get some signed up!

    • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

      Thankyou for comment-always good to see Schools embracing Social Media & using it well.

      Quick question-are the social media accounts run by several people?

  • Mike

    Good stuff. Have done this for nearly two years @waimairischool Also linked to School Facebook page. Feed on school website etc. The SMS option is the most popular with parents. During the major earthquake emergencies and ongoing afters shocks twitter SMS to parents been invaluable. When power, servers, landlines all down in emergencies the 3G and cell networks stayed up so we could still communicate with parents. 

    • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

      Thankyou so much for your comments Mike.

      Great to hear such an encouraging story of positive use of Social Media in school.

      Have you had any concerns from parents regarding its use?

      • Mike

        Cheers Julian,

        The destruction of our beautiful city and the on-going emotional damage to parents, children and teachers has long since evaporated what you might call ‘concerns’ about Twitter SMS. While I would never wish what we are living through on any city or school, the reality is that bad stuff happens. And when it does parents need to know what is going on.

        It snaps minds into focus. We are kept busy when we run drop in sessions for parents when we link their phones to twitter for them.

        You don’t need an earthquake, just a snow day, to appreciate this media. What is it with you poms worrying about parents not liking things?

        Kind regards


        • http://ideasfactory.me Julian S Wood

          Completely agree-I feel the same.

          It’s about opening all forms of communication to the community-schools are not impenetrable fortresses!
          I think it’s more to do with the signing up to the mobile service and parents not knowing that they are actually opening a Twitter account.

          Thanks again for comment

  • skye warwick

    i love twitter so should every and every one should have an account By skye

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