How to: Verify your social media channels

Have you ever noticed the little blue / grey tick next to certain social media accounts (usually celebrities or brands)? They mean that these accounts have been verified; they are the authentic account of that person / entity. 

Most social media channels now have a verification process. For schools, some are easily obtainable and some are more difficult to get - each channel has their own prerequisites for verification.

Facebook and YouTube are two of the simplest, taking no more, generally, than 10 minutes to obtain each one. We highly recommend that every school verifies both Facebook and YouTube, as there are benefits in doing so.

Facebook

Most schools are now on Facebook, all schools should be! The Facebook community is enormous - in fact, they passed 2 BILLION users last month! It has reach that cannot be rivalled, and the vast majority of your parents will be using Facebook.

As a school, you will have a Business Page to help promote and engage with your community. This is what you are looking to get verified. Luckily, the process is very simple.

PROS:

  • Build trust with your community
  • Merges "Unofficial Page" (this is often an issue for schools, and can often crop up in searches ahead of your own real school Page. Verification will merge the Unofficial Page automatically most of the time, and give you the ability to do manually if not)
  • Your school will feature higher on search results
  • More likely to get higher engagement

PREREQUISITES:

There are a few criteria that should be met before you attempt to verify your school's Page:

  • Have a profile picture (the little, square thumbnail)
  • Have a header image (the long, rectangular picture at the top of the Page)

If these are met you should see the option to verify in your Page's Settings.

STEPS TO VERIFY YOUR PAGE:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. From General, click Page Verification
  3. Click Verify this Page, then click Get Started
  4. Enter a publicly listed phone number for your business, your country and language
  5. Click Call Me Now to allow Facebook to call you with a verification code
  6. Enter the 4-digit verification code and click Continue

It is also possible to verify using a business document. Simply follow the same steps but click Verify this Page with documents instead, at the bottom-left of the window that appears. You can then upload a picture of an official document (e.g. phone bill / utility bill) showing your school's name and address.

YouTube

YouTube is the king of video! It is a great platform for schools and has a new type of community to market to.

YouTube is the second largest search engine online (losing out to Google...who own it!) so having a verified account is a good idea.

PROS:

  • Build trust with your community
  • Your school will feature higher on search results
  • Is good for SEO (a verified account on YouTube will help when people search for you on Google)
  • More likely to get higher engagement
  • Enables some handy features on the YouTube platform - the most notable being Custom Thumbnails (meaning you can pick the image you video previews with) and being able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes

PREREQUISITES:

None...other than have a YouTube channel!

STEPS TO VERIFY YOUR PAGE:

  1. Click your Channel Icon at the top-right of page
  2. Click the Gear icon (YouTube settings)
  3. Click View additional features, then click Verify
  4. Choose the country you are in and whether you would like to receive a call or text message
  5. Enter a phone number and click Submit
  6. Enter the 6-digit verification code and click Submit

And it's done!

 

In having these channels verified you are showing that your community can trust you, something that goes a long way on social media. For 10 minutes work to sort both Facebook and YouTube out, the return on this alone is great.

Twitter and Instagram

These two channels are a little more complex to verify as a school. We have seen many top universities and colleges, such as Oxford (as seen on Twitter) or Harvard (as seen on Instagram), with verified accounts - but none from the independent school sector.

While it is harder to verify these two, we firmly believe it is possible. 

Twitter

Twitter's leading rule for verifying accounts is: 'the account should be of public interest.' While there are some guide lines as to what this covers (i.e. music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas) there is a deal of ambiguity too.

To be able to complete the form, your account must have the following:

  • a verified phone number
  • a confirmed email address (this should be a school email address)
  • a bio
  • a profile photo
  • a header photo
  • a website
  • Tweets set as public (in Tweet privacy settings)

When submitting a request to verify an account, Twitter asks for additional information to help evaluate. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Why should your account be verified? As a business, the core detail Twitter will be looking for will be in your mission statement. 
  • When providing URLs to support your request, choose sites that help express the account your newsworthiness or relevancy in the education field.

Give it a go! Submit a request to verify an account by filling out this form

Instagram

Instagram is another that can be difficult; perhaps the most difficult. 😕

Many of the same rules as with Twitter apply here but the overall consensus on verified Instagram accounts is proof that you are an influencer on the platform (i.e. you have a solid Followers list). 

Here are a few tips that could help you verify your Instagram:

  • a good amount of Followers
  • real followers and real likes - Instagram are more likely to verify if your account is authentic and has not "cheated" its way to a large following
  • a strong social presence outside of Instagram - this could be the winning factor to getting your school verified! Prove to Instagram that you have great influence on other channels (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LIVE-streaming services...any channel with top levels of engagement
    • It is worth noting that a verified Facebook / Twitter / YouTube account does not guarantee a verified Instagram account
  • a complete profile - be sure to have: a profile pic, bio and website on your Instagram Page. You can also link to your Instagram account from your other channels!

Currently, Instagram does not have a section of their site where you can request account verification. This means you may have to try and get in touch with them in other ways to request this. For this reason, our recommendation is that you weigh up the pros and cons of verifying Instagram, and only try if the positives outweigh the negatives.

 

Having a verified account is a sign of trust for most businesses. In a world where social media accounts number in the billions - you want it to be as clear and easy as possible for people to find you. Having that tick is a large step in achieving this. 

For Facebook and YouTube, the effort required is minimal. This should be a priority for any school account.

For Twitter and Instagram, there are certainly variables and no guarantees to getting verified. However, we do not feel this should be a determent and our recommendation is to at least give it a go (Twitter in particular). 

Have you tried to verify your accounts in the past or have any thoughts about this article? We'd love to hear your stories and thoughts. Please comment below.

How to: Create an interactive yearbook

The world of print is moving further and further behind us. One core reason boils down to cost - it is cheaper to produce content digitally than it is to print!

For schools, we are seeing traditional publications such as prospectuses enter the amazing world of digital. But what about something like a yearbook? How can you make this more accessible and interactive for your school's community?

With a few simple tricks on Issuu, this is very possible.

Issuu?

But first, what is Issuu?

In short it is a social channel specifically for publications. You can upload PDF's to Issuu, and then flip through them - simulating the reading experience.

NOTE: Issuu is not limited to just PDF's. Most common document files are acceptable, including: DOC, PPT, RTF, WPD, ODT, and more.

For schools, Issuu is a great place to host publications such as prospectus or perhaps a literary collection of pupil stories? The added bonus is, publications on Issuu are very easy to share (it's just a URL link) and very easy to embed on places such as a school website.

Getting started

The yearbook is a time honoured tradition for many schools. In using Issuu, you are able to negate certain costs to both the school and your parents.

In order to upload this to Issuu, the yearbook should be saved as a PDF file. So, whatever software you have used to create your publication (for example Adobe InDesign), be sure to export the end product in PDF format.

TOP TIP: to ensure your PDF looks its very best, it should be optimised for Web. This is a common setting across many of Adobe's design suite.

To upload your PDF:

  • click the Upload button - on desktop this is always in the top-right corner
  • choose the required file(s) - alternatively, you can drag the file(s) into the upload box
  • Issuu will prep your PDF - be patient, if the file is big this may take a few minutes
  • choose Title and Description for your file, and fill out any fields as required
  • click Publish Now to finish

Congratulations - your yearbook is now live on Issuu!

Making it interactive

Getting the yearbook on Issuu is just the first step. You now have the opportunity to make it a more immersive piece of content. 

The first step to take is to add URL links (called "Publisher Clips") into your yearbook. First and foremost, this is an effective way to help drive traffic to places you want (i.e. your website, or perhaps an alumni page on Facebook or LinkedIn). 

Secondly, this can be an effective way to promote the traits and talents of pupils individually or in groups.

Example page from The Regent's International School, Bangkok's yearbook. Imagine each picture having an interactive element, linking to a webpage or video 👍

Example page from The Regent's International School, Bangkok's yearbook. Imagine each picture having an interactive element, linking to a webpage or video 👍

URL link ideas - here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • ask your pupils to create their own LinkedIn Profiles, and link to these
  • link to certain Pinterest or Twitter pages and posts to show of pupil art / design tech projects
  • link to SoundCloud to promote your musical pupils' talents
  • link to a pupil-run blog for literary or journalistic / media projects

The great thing about adding in Publisher Clips is that you can specify the area of the page you want to link. So, for pages that have multiple pictures of your pupils, you can add in one link per pupil.

For group pictures you can do the same thing. Brilliant if, for example, you had a neat shot of the school choir, and you wanted to direct readers to the choir's tracks on SoundCloud.

To create Clips in your publication:

  • go to the Publication List and choose the document you want to create Clips in (i.e. your yearbook)
  • select Links in the menu below the publication
  • select the page and then draw out the area you want to add the Clip to 
  • click Add link
  • for type of link, select Web and Video Links, paste the URL you want to direct your readers to, and click Done.
  • click Save

Click View to see your Clip, which will now show up on your publication. When your readers click on it, they will be immediately directed to the webpage you added.

Video content

As well as URL links, you can also add video content. This is done in exactly the same way - create a Publisher Clip that links to a YouTube or Vimeo video. Instead of sending the reader to that channel, the video will play in an embedded player on Issuu. Nice!

Video ideas - make use of all your amazing video content, just host it on YouTube or Vimeo:

  • replay some of the best moments from the school year - this can either be for individual pupils or for groups / events. For example:
    • the winning goal scored during the inter-house football tournament
    • that earth shattering guitar solo played at school music concert
    • an inspiring speech delivered during a Model United Nations meet
    • the snowball fight to end all snowball fights during the winter - the list is limitless!
  • a final teacher farewell to all departing pupils on the last page

And there we have it - a very simple way to turn a standard yearbook into something a little more interactive and special, for pupils and parents alike. It won't age and it can't be lost. It is a true memento for both the school and its community.

 

Have you ever tried making an interactive publication in Issuu? We'd love to hear about it, or better still see it! Please comment below any thoughts on today's article.

Best of luck - and our heartfelt congratulations to all pupils who have departed this summer.

How to: Remove private content from Google Search

When we Google ourselves or our businesses, the results aren't always what we were expecting. If negative or private, we might wonder how we can get this information out of the public eye. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken.

To illustrate how these work, think of yourself as being inside a building and the internet being the landscape outside that building. Google is the window; it monitors and offers you a portal to show you what’s going on outside.

Google’s job is simply to report what it sees - it doesn’t want to jeopardise this by being inaccurate. So, if you want Google to change its report, there are two main routes you could take:

[1] Change the landscape

The simplest method is to actively change the landscape outside; or rather change the content on the internet.

If you have control over content this is by far the best option, since you don’t have to convince Google to do anything other than its usual task of monitoring.

To do this either:

  • hide the content that you don’t want Google to bring up - by changing the privacy settings surrounding it (i.e. making your Facebook Profile private, so content cannot be searched for)
  • remove the content entirely - particularly effective to stop outdated or irrelevant content from being found by Google. 

To complete the process, you’ll need to ask Google to re-crawl / reindex the page. Don’t worry if these terms are unfamiliar - the concept is quite simple.

The internet is so vast Google couldn't possibly have the time to scan absolutely everything before giving you your results (which will be in a few milliseconds of your request). To combat this problem, Google scans the landscape all the time - to try and keep its overall picture as accurate as possible. The results you get back will reflect the landscape last scanned by Google.

This scanning is called crawling - so asking Google to re-crawl a specific page means asking it to take a look at the part of the landscape where your now hidden or removed content was before. Google will take note of the fact that something has changed, and so update its overall picture.

If you don’t do this, you will have to wait for the next time Google is scheduled to look at your part of the landscape (which often takes a while).

How to request a crawl

  • Copy the URL of the page you want to be re-crawled by Google (i.e. the page you have removed or hidden content on)You’ll need the page’s URL and a note of something that’s changed (something that has gone from the live version which is still showing up on Google).
  • Go to Google’s removal tool and paste the URL into the request removal field. Click request removal button. 
  • Follow the instructions in the pop-ups, telling Google whether the content has been updated (which will be the case if privacy settings have changed) or removed.
  • Once done, your removal request will be set to pending.
  • It may take a while a few days for anything to happen, so be sure to keep tabs on everything.

If you are in control of the content you want removed, this should be a nice, simple process. However, if someone else controls the content you want removed it is a little more complicated. 

The best method would be to try and request that the content owner removes / hides the offending content. If they do this, you can then use the same removal tool to request Google to re-crawl the page.

[2] Remove sensitive information

If the content you are trying to remove falls into one of a select few categories of sensitive personal information, you may be able to take a different route. These categories include:

  • bank records
  • images of your hand-written signature
  • explicit material, shared without your consent
  • medical records

You can request that Google ignores certain content when scanning the landscape where this content can be found. However, this is not ideal since the content is still there and could therefore still be accessed in ways not affected by Google search - but it can sometimes help a lot.

Follow the procedure on Google’s information removal tool, selecting the Remove information you see in Google Search and then In Google's search results and on a website.

 

We hope that the procedures discussed in this article help give you some more privacy online. If you have any issues regarding this topic, please do comment below to get in touch. 

Escape school: Top 7 holiday locations for tech lovers

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
— ARTHUR C. CLARKE

It's here! The summer holidays are finally here! Time to wind down and leave the hectic school day behind.

To help you on your way, we've picked out some awesome locations found across the world. But they all have a twist; they all involve technology in some innovative and fascinating way. So, to recharge your cells, here are our 7 top places to visit for tech lovers.

Bionic Bar | Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Instead of taking a flight, how about going by boat? Travel with Royal Caribbean and you're likely to come across their robot bartenders.

Yes, robots making your drinks! Check out the 360° video below.

The robot bartenders can produce two drinks per minute, and make up to 1,000 each day. Guests create an order - whether a custom request or standard menu item - on a specially programmed tablet. They keep track of their order on the digital screen next to the bar; once it’s ready the bartenders release their drink.

Henn-na Hotel | Nagasaki, Japan

It wouldn't be a tech lovers' article without mentioning Japan. While the nation has plenty of amazing places to visit, this hotel in Nagasaki is a must see!

The Henn-Na Hotel, which translates as the 'weird hotel', is a world first. With velociraptor check-in staff and automated bell boys, the hotel lives up to its name.

Hotel owner, Hideo Sawada, wanted the Henn-Na to be “the most efficient hotel in the world” by reducing manpower and having 90% of staff be robotic.

The Void: VR theme park | Dubai, UAE

Theme parks often make great use of technology. But The Void, with locations in UAE, Canada and USA, takes tech to the next level.

Step beyond reality into "hyper-reality" and experience VR like it's never been experienced before. 

Haohai Robot Restaurant | Harbin, China

Are you working up an appetite yet? Don't worry, we've got you covered. The Haohai Robot Restaurant in China is the perfect place to refuel after a long day's trek.

Everything at the Haohai is operated by robots, from the chefs through to the waiters (who wheel about on little tracks). Guests are warmly greeted by a front-of-house robot with, “Earth person, hello! Welcome to Robot Restaurant!” 

UFO Yacht | Global

OK, so not strictly a holiday location (and not strictly in existence just yet) but these are certainly worth a mention - who knows, perhaps you could buy one as a holiday home?

The UFO Yacht is the brainchild of Pierpaolo Lazzarini, a automotive and yacht designer. The yachts are designed to look like a UFO straight out of a B-Movie. They are made up of two half-sphere shells, one above the water and one submerged, which are divided by a floating disc that doubles as a sundeck.

Inamo | London, UK

If food cooked and served by robots isn't quite your bag then try out Inamo instead. This restaurant, based in London, is the capital's only "interactive" restaurant. 

At Inamo, your table doubles up as your menu and in-restaurant entertainment. Interactive projections on your table surface enable you to set the mood, discover the local neighbourhood, entertain you with retro games, watch your chef on a live-cam feed, and even graffiti your table top.

Oh, and you can order your food off it too.

Juvet Hotel | Alstad, Norway

At first glance you might be wondering why we've picked the Juvet Location Hotel. It describes itself as "a synthesis of raw Norwegian nature, cultural history and modern architecture." It is quite simply a stunning location, unlike anything you have likely seen before. Check out the video below for a quick tour.

So what is it? Why is this perfect for a tech lover? 

For the keen eyed, you may be thinking that this places looks familiar. That's because it is the same location used for the 2014 film Ex Machina. Yes, you get to visit the same place that the award winning sci-fi extravaganza was filmed at!

While we can't promise you'll meet any robots that could pass the Turing Test, it is still a beautiful place to visit. In fact, it might be just the place to take a few days digital detoxing, something we should all practice from time-to-time.

 

There we have it - 7 cool places to visit. Have you got any you'd like to add to this list, or have you actually been to any of the ones above? We'd love to hear all about them. Please add your comments below.

Happy travels. ✌️

Snapchat Maps: An essential safety guide

We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!
— Snap Inc.

On June 21st, Snapchat introduced a new feature. The app, highly popular with teens, introduced users to Snap Map - a street map viewer showing locations of yourself and other users.

While the feature is a lot of fun, with some great applications in learning, there have been notable concerns surrounding privacy from parents, schools and the police. Using GPS location services on your phone, it is possible for friends to see your precise location on the Snap Map overlay.

How to be safe

Safety is of course a big concern for younger users on social. It is important to arm yourself with the right knowledge to guide pupils / children in the safe use of social media. 

The new Snap Map feature has several settings, which are very easy to change, to help users define who can see them. 

[1] Open Snap Map: on the normal photo / camera screen, pinch with two fingers to open Snap Map.

[2] Opt in: if you or your pupil / child haven't already, you must opt-in to use Snap Map!

[3] Who to share with: users can now pick who they share their location with. You can either pick Friends (All) or handpick a select group, or set your location to Ghost Mode so no one can see you. 

How your avatar will appear on Snap Map with Ghost Mode turned on

How your avatar will appear on Snap Map with Ghost Mode turned on

[4] How to change settings afterwards: if you need to change your settings it is nice and easy to do so. When Snap Map is open, either tap on your person / avatar or click the cog symbol in the top-right. 

Key points

There are several important points that you should know implicitly, to better understand terminology and how the map updates.

  • On Snapchat, anyone can add anyone as a friend. However, on Snap Maps a "Friend" (i.e. the person you will be sharing your location with) is only counted if both persons follow each other. The point to impart to younger users here is: ONLY ADD PEOPLE YOU KNOW.
  • Ghost Mode makes the you invisible to your friends on Snap Map. You will still be able to see them on the map though.
  • Your location will update every time you open the app. If you have Snapchat closed for several hours your avatar will disappear from your friends' maps.

 

Snap Maps is a really cool new feature for Snapchat, and we can see it having some great applications for schools. Imagine wanting to talk about the colosseum in Rome. Have a look on Snap Maps and you'll be able to see what Stories people are sharing from that location.

Of course, safety always comes first - so as a teacher or parent, you must understand the security settings. The team at Snapchat have made these as simple as possible, so users can use their app safely. 

 

Thanks for reading - we hope you all get to experience how much fun Snap Maps is, while guiding the younger generation to being safe online. We'd love to hear thoughts or comments on this guide or about Snapchat / Snap Maps. Please comment below.