Best Practices & Advice
Social media is a serious time commitment, and it isn’t one size fits all for every platform.
Before you begin
Each platform will have its own unique language and ways to be effective. In order for a social media account to be successful, a department must keep a robust social media presence and engage with followers.
Likewise, before applying for a social media account, consider if you need your own account or if content can be featured on other established official channels. If so, contact the social media manager for those accounts to work out a plan to incorporate your content. If that’s not the case, begin to think about your goals for the social account.
Creating content: start with your website
Shareable content often starts with your website. Any good social media page links its audience back to where they can find additional information. Your pages, stories, and events on the Beloit College website can be good sources to post about.
The first step in figuring out what content to create is by listening to your community:
- Who are your audiences?
- What useful information are they looking for?
- What interesting or exciting content do you have to share with them?
- What do you want them to know?
When it comes to sharing content with social media, also keep “shareability” in mind:
- Is this something you could share on social media? If you find it interesting, chances are your followers will too.
- Make the headlines of your pages and stories catchy and memorable.
- Use a visual element! Adding a photo or video to a post will increase the visibility of your posts.
- Create goals for your account using the SMART theory.
Stories in particular are great pieces of content to share on social media:
- Real people doing interesting and exciting things is particularly sharable.
- Stories do not have to be long! Just 2-3 paragraphs is enough.
- The story’s summary is not unlike a social post: a single sentence to tell the get the whole idea of the story across.
- For the basics of adding stories to the website, refer to the help pages.
A website that is consistently updated with good, interesting content means a consistent set of content for your social media. Likewise, having a body of website content to point to can help in your social media channel proposal.
Tailor your content for each channel
Social media channels have personalities. Yes, that may seem strange, but it’s true. The 280 characters you write on Twitter, may not have the same impact on Instagram.
Simply put, don’t post everything everywhere, especially not on the same day.
In general, while you do want to share your content everywhere you can. You must tailor your content to the channel you’re posting on. For instance:
- Facebook: Tag pages related to the post and add photos for shareability.
- Twitter: Use concise language when posting to ensure your message makes sense and will fit the 280 character limit.
Do not link your social media accounts directly
You shouldn’t ask your Twitter followers to click to view an Instagram post or vice versa. Followers should be able to easily access content for each channel. If you need a place to direct users on multiple platforms, add the content to your website and link to it. Again, be aware of the different audiences posts are going to and how things are treated.
We want all users to access our content. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also a legal requirement to make information accessible.
All images on College social media accounts should include an image description or alt-text. When writing an image description think of the following:
- Prioritize important information on the image.
- Include any info a person would need in order to participate in the program or activity.
- Avoid assuming gender, race, or other identities unless it’s relevant to the post.
- Use general terms and avoid jargon when possible.
- When using infographics, avoid redundancy and only include in the alt-text information that is not already covered in the post copy.
- Avoid flattened text or text included in images.
While Emojis are always fun, they can be a problem for screen readers or text-to-speech programs, these devices will read the description for that icon, which can vary. Be selective about using emojis in your posts and prioritize written content. You can double-check the descriptions for any emoji using emojipedia.org.
Other Content Tips
- Be accurate. Double-check any facts you’ve included in your post and have a reference readily available in case someone asks for more information.
- Read twice before hitting send! Typos happen, but social media lives forever. Proofread all your content before posting and if possible ask someone else to proofread before you hit send.
- Consider your abbreviations. Abbreviations are acceptable on social, but we don’t want alphabet soup. Audiences don’t want to decide what you’re saying.
- Ask a question. Questions can provide opportunities for meaningful engagement on your channels. Though, if you ask a question, be prepared to interact with the replies.