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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. 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, short videos, and infographics 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! 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. Students, parents, and alumni all engage with social media accounts differently. Knowing your audience's preferred platform will help share your message.
  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 or threatening. If you have a question about what to do with negative/inappropriate comments, please contact the communications office.
  13. Use captions for videos. More than 60% of viewers watch social video without sound. Applies for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
  14. Use emojis. It's a universal language and often increases engagement. Just make sure the emotion that you want to convey in your message matches the meaning behind the emojis (same applies to hashtags).
  15. Remember You Leave a Trail. *Everything* you like and / or comment on is available to the public.

  16. Periodically Update Your Password.

  17. 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


  • 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.
  • 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!
  • For more Twitter advice, check out the Twitter Help Center:


  • 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 posts 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:


  • Use High Quality (and Non-Stock) Images. Swarthmore has a wealth of Instagram-worthy scenes. Using stock and generic photos will lessen your impact.
  • Use Insta Stories. The platform’s feature continues to grow in popularity.  Use emojis, stickers, polls, mentions, and filters to enhance your stories.
  • But Make Sure You are Telling a Story. For Insta Stories, think through a clear beginning, middle, and end to be most effective.
  • 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.

If you have questions, contact Mark Anskis (manskis1) or Roy Greim (rgreim1)

July 26, 2020

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing