Social Media Best Practices

13 Tips for Social Media Success:

  1. Remember you are representing your department and Swarthmore College as a whole. Always be respectful and professional in what and how you post.
  2. Follow the five-minute rule. Review your tweets or Facebook posts five minutes after you write them, and before you hit “post.” Check for grammatical and spelling errors, consider whether the post is relevant to your audience, and consider if the tone is appropriate.
  3. Positivity wins. No one likes a whiner, so share news and updates that reflect your department in a positive light and you’ll see greater engagement. 
  4. Be creative! Photos and short videos will increase views of your posts. Don’t be afraid to use visuals to boost your message.
  5. Engage with others. Social media is a conversation that is designed to be interactive. Respond to questions on your pages, retweet and share posts from other College accounts, and ask other College accounts for support.
  6. Use the right dimensions and tools to make your account look appealing and feel professional. Guides like this one will tell you the proper image dimensions for all the major social media networks.
  7. Post consistently! Worldwide users send 5,700 tweets a second. If you’re not posting consistently to your social media accounts you’re being lost. Take the time to post and don't abandon your accounts. 
  8. But don’t post too much. How often you should post depends on the social media site and your audience. But never overwhelm your audience with posts. If you’re hitting more than 10 posts in a day you’re definitely overdoing it.
  9. Don’t post anything private or sensitive. As an educational institution we have a commitment to respect the privacy of our students. Familiarize yourself with FERPA guidelines and always err on the safe side when sharing information about individuals. 
  10. Know your audience. Knowing who you’re trying to reach will change how and what you share. If you’re after a student audience using fun features like memes may help increase student followers and engagement.
  11. Beware of short cuts. Many social media management tools allow you to post content to multiple platforms at once. While this is convenient, be aware that because each platform has a specific character count, there is a good chance your message will be abruptly cut off on certain platforms (most likely Twitter), leading to awkward and sometimes unwanted messaging.
  12. Do not engage with vulgar/inappropriate comments. Negative comments are a part of social media. As a general rule, no Swarthmore College accounts should delete comments unless they are deemed inappropriate. If you have a question about what to do with negative/inappropriate comments, please contact the communications office.
  13. Ask for help! Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned social media veteran, always feel free to reach out to the Communications Office for help with your social media sites.

Platform-specific Best Practices

Twitter

  • Be succinct and to the point. The most successful tweets are 80 characters or less.
  • Don’t be afraid to “recycle.” Schedule similar posts at different times of the day to hit different audiences and see what hook (a quote from an article? a picture?) gets the most engagement.
  • Post frequently. Market research suggests engagement declines if an account posts more than three times in one day, but the drop off is slight. Keep pushing your content out there or your followers may not see it.
  • Use hashtags (#)! Using #Swarthmore is one good way to help fellow College Twitter accounts see and share your content. Feel free to use other hashtags as they apply to your account but use the rule of three and avoid using more than three hashtags in any one tweet.
  • If you start a tweet with “@” it will only appear in the newsfeeds of those users who follow both you and the individual you tagged. To avoid that problem add a period before “@” and everyone can see it. Example: “.@SwatAlum Arthur Chu ’06 is on the cover of The Bulletin!”
  • Ask for shares, retweets, or use of a hashtag. Research shows that asking for retweets works!
  • For more Twitter advice, check out the Twitter Help Center: https://support.twitter.com/.

Facebook

  • Don’t post too much. Unlike Twitter, Facebook penalizes you for over sharing your content. Aim to post only 2-3 times a week and make sure any posts that go out on the same day are at least 3 hours apart.
  • Be succinct and to the point. The most successful tweets are 200 characters or less
  • Share with pictures. Add a photo to your status update or announcement and you’ll see significantly higher engagement.
  • For more Facebook advice, check out Facebook’s Help Center: https://www.facebook.com/help/.

If you have questions, contact Mark Anskis, Associate Director of Media Communications.

Sept. 1, 2014