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Using Student Photos Safely for Social Media Marketing

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Using Student Photos Safely for Social Media Marketing

Language school marketing has entered the digital age, with more and more schools using social media and student photos and videos as part of their social media marketing strategy. These visual materials can be a powerful way to showcase the distinctive qualities of a language school and to give potential students a glimpse into the classroom experience. However, every time I advise my clients to do so there is always resistance as school owners and directors are scared of using real photos or video due to privacy issues.

photo of Gina Rodriguez , ELT Marketing & Consultancy for Language Schools

Hi! I’m Gina Rodriguez and the founder of GR School Marketing. I support language schools in building an engaging social media presence through training and tailored marketing strategies.

Learn more about my career as an ELT Consultant here.

Can we use real photos of students for social media marketing?” , they always ask me.

The answer is yes, absolutely as long as you use student photos and videos safely in a way that respects students’ privacy rights and complies with data protection laws. Failing to do so can not only damage a school’s reputation but can also result in legal and financial consequences. Therefore, it’s essential for language schools to adopt best practices and ensure that they are using student photos and videos safely and in compliance with privacy laws.

The advice and information I will share in this blog article are based on the advice kindly shared by education marketer Emma Fell from Attenger Digital on our live stream “Safeguarding students’ privacy” and also from a consultation with an Italian lawyer expert on privacy.

But first things, first!.

Here’s what this article covers:

Benefits of using real photos and videos for social media marketing

In my experience I often see language school managers feeling hesitant about using real photos of their students, given the potential risks and complexities involved in obtaining consent and ensuring compliance with privacy laws. However, it’s important to note that using real photos and videos for social media marketing has significant advantages over using stock material, which may not accurately reflect the unique characteristics and strengths of a language school.

4 Reasons to use real photos and Videos for language school marketing

  1. Real photos and videos can help convey a sense of authenticity by showcasing the great learning activities done, the positive experience of the students and the style and personality of the teachers.
  2. They can also help prospective students and their families get a better sense of what to expect from the learning environment and the overall experience at the school.
  3. By using real photos and videos language schools can build trust with their audience.
  4. Using real photos and videos in social media marketing of your language school will help you differentiate yourself from competitors who rely on generic stock photos or simply text-based graphic posts.

Of course, using real photos requires careful planning and execution, as well as clear communication with everyone involved and that’s a task I help language schools with.

Best practices for safely using student photos in language school marketing.

One of the most important things to consider when using student photos in school marketing materials is obtaining consent from both parents. Before using any student photos in marketing materials, language schools should obtain consent from students and/or their parents or legal guardians. Consent should be obtained in writing, and should clearly outline how the photos will be used, and for what purposes. It’s also important to ensure that the consent obtained is valid and legally binding.

Data Protection

Another key consideration when using student photos in language school marketing is data protection. Language schools must comply with relevant data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and must ensure that any third-party services used in the marketing campaign are also compliant.

To ensure compliance, language schools should implement appropriate security measures to protect student photos from unauthorized access, disclosure, or misuse. This might include measures such as password-protecting files or using secure cloud storage solutions.

Appropriate Use

When using student photos in language school marketing materials, it’s important to use the photos in a way that is appropriate and respectful. Language schools should avoid using photos in a way that could be considered invasive or offensive to the students or their families.

For example, language schools should avoid using photos that reveal sensitive personal information about the student (eg name tag, a tattoo, etc)

Security Measures

As mentioned above, implementing appropriate security measures is crucial to protect student photos from unauthorized access, disclosure, or misuse. Language schools should ensure that any third-party services used in the marketing campaign have appropriate security measures in place. As well as this, they should also train staff on how to handle and store student photos securely.

Transparency

Finally, it’s important to be transparent with students and their families about how their photos will be used. Language schools should provide clear and concise information about the purposes for which the photos will be used. On top of this, students and their families should be informed about their rights and how to exercise them.

Alternatives to Real Photos in Social Media Marketing

If you do not have consent to use students’ photos for social media marketing, there are still alternative options available for language schools to create effective marketing materials. Here are some alternative ideas:

  • Croping the photo: You can exclude the students who have not given their consent by cropping the photo. This can be done using photo editing apps or by taking a new photo that excludes those students. Ask them to stand or sit near the border so you can easily cut them out when editing the photo.
  • Using stock photos: Rather than using photos of your actual students, you can use stock photos that are relevant to your marketing message. There are many websites where you can purchase royalty-free stock photos for use in marketing materials.
  • Using photos without identifiable faces: You can take photos that do not show students’ faces or other identifiable features. For example, you can take photos of students’ hands holding a book, or photos of their backs as they engage in an activity.
  • Using written testimonials: Instead of using photos or videos, you can use written testimonials from students or their parents. This allows you to share positive experiences without sharing identifiable information.
  • Using graphics and illustrations: You can use graphics and illustrations to create engaging marketing materials. This is a great option if you want to showcase specific language skills or learning outcomes without using photos or videos.

Balancing Social Media Marketing Effectiveness and student’s privacy.

In conclusion, using student photos in language school marketing is an effective and powerful way to showcase the strengths of the language school. However, language schools must use student photos safely for social media marketing, i.e. in a way that respects students’ privacy rights and complies with relevant data protection laws. It’s vital for language schools to take data protection seriously. This means obtaining proper consent and complying with data protection laws when using student photos in marketing materials. By doing so, schools can protect themselves from legal, financial, and reputational risks and build trust with parents and/or legal guardians.

Interested in learning how to effectively showcase your language school’s uniqueness on social media while respecting data protection regulations? Book a discovery call with me through the contact form. I can help you create impactful campaigns that highlight your language school’s strengths and build trust with your potential students.

Gina Rodriguez, ELT Marketing Consultant
Gina Rodriguez, ELT Marketing Consultant for Language Education

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