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Social Media Best Practices

For faculty and staff members who manage departmental social media accounts.

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. Be creative! Photos, short videos, and infographics will increase views of your posts. Don’t be afraid to use visuals to boost your message.
  3. Engage with others. Social media is a conversation that is designed to be interactive. Respond to questions and messages on your pages, retweet and share posts from other College accounts, and ask other College accounts for support.
  4. 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.
  5. Post consistently! 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. Know your audience. Knowing who you’re trying to reach will change how and what you share. Students, parents, and alumni all engage with social media accounts differently. Knowing your audience's preferred platform will help share your message.
  8. 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 or threatening. If you have a question about what to do with negative/inappropriate comments, please contact the communications office.
  9. Remember You Leave a Trail. *Everything* you like and / or comment on is available to the public.

  10. Periodically Update Your Password. 

  11. Ensure that your posts are accessible to all viewers. Check our accessibility tips below.

Platform-specific Best Practices


  • Aim to create 3-5 posts per week. Ideally, these are mixed media posts (carousels, reels, static posts, etc.) Instagram Stories can be used more frequently. 

  • Use high quality images. Swarthmore has a wealth of Instagram-worthy scenes. Using stock and generic photos will lessen your impact.

  • Create Instagram Reels. These are short-form Instagram videos that can be up to 90 seconds long. Currently, this is the most popular feature on Instagram.

  • Utilize emojis, stickers, links, polls, mentions, and filters to enhance your Instagram Stories. 

  • Use Your Bio. Add links to the bio that direct back to your homepage.

  • Track and learn from your best Instagram content. See what performs well and resonates with your audience.

  • Mention and tag @SwarthmoreCollege in your posts if you want the college to re share your content on the main Instagram account.


  • Aim to post at least 3-8 times per week. 

  • Be succinct and to the point. The most successful posts are 200 characters or less.

  • Share with pictures and videos. Add a photo to your status update or announcement and you’ll see significantly higher engagement.

  • Create accurate and authentic content.

x, formerly Twitter

  • Be succinct and to the point. The most successful tweets are 80 characters or less.

  • 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.

  • Share with pictures. Add a photo to your tweet update or announcement and you’ll see significantly higher engagement.

  • Ask for shares, retweets, or use of a hashtag. Research shows that asking for retweets works!

Accessibility Tips

  • Always use alt text when sharing pictures and graphics. Descriptive captions and alternative text (also known as alt text) allow people to visualize images when they can't see them. It's important to add alt text, as accessibility tools read them to describe images for viewers. Check up on the most recent alt text guidelines

  • Adding captions and subtitles to your videos is crucial for users with hearing challenges. Additionally, most users view social media content with their volume muted. Captions and subtitles also enhance the viewing experience for users watching in non-native languages or sound-off environments.

  • Use plain language to spell out acronyms (e.g., Office of Student Engagement (OSE)). This is helpful for those who use screen readers.

  • Capitalizing the first letters of compound words makes it easier for screen readers and users alike to pronounce the individual words (e.g., #SwarthmoreCollege instead of #swarthmorecollege).

  • When including images of text in your post, be sure to check text color against the background color. In general, try to use dark foreground text on a light background or light foreground text on a dark background. If deviating from this, be sure to use color contrast checkers. If the contrast seems poor to you, it will represent problems for some users with low vision.

  • W3's recommendations set the industry standards for accessible web and social media experiences.

Whether you're just starting out or you're a seasoned social media veteran, always free free to reach out to Amber Spiotti (aspiott1) or Mark Anskis (manskis1) with any questions.

Updated: February 2024

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