Social Media Best Practices

As a social media practitioner, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices. Below are some tips for the major social media platforms to help you shape your strategy. As a reminder, The Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC) is always available for collaboration and assistance in your social media strategy.

General Best Practices

  • Understand your audience. Cater to them. What you may want to post, may be different from what your audience will be interested in.
  • Monitor and Engage. There is a reason “social” is the first word in “social media.“ The platforms are meant for conversations – talking with, not at, your audience.
  • Mix it up. Different social media platforms have different purposes, which means they each require different content. Treat each social media site independently, so your audience receives the types of information it expects.
    Additionally, do not automatically send your Facebook posts to Twitter or vice versa. Doing so may affect content and followers, as someone who follows you both on Facebook and Twitter would have no need to if they are receiving the same content on both platforms.
  • Develop a schedule. The best way to be prepared for your regular postings and keep track of your content is to maintain a social media schedule. Facebook allows you to schedule posts to be published at a future date. Twitter and Instagram (as well as Facebook) posts may be pre-scheduled using a third-party application such as Buffer or Hootsuite.
    Though scheduling posts is valuable, remember to be flexible so that you can post in real-time from a live event or share an important announcement. Also, be sure to review your scheduled content in the event of campus, local or other emergencies to avoid the appearance that your unit is disregarding the event. OMC will contact social media practitioners during times of a major campus event for guidance.
  • Post regularly. How often you should post depends on your particular audience and your platform; however, you should consistently post at least two times per week, including during academic breaks. This frequency not only keeps followers engaged but also helps keep your page relevant.
  • Measure your success. An important part of any marketing strategy is measuring its outcomes. Most social media platforms make measuring your success quite simple with free integrated analytics tools that show you data about your audience’s size, demographics and level of engagement. In addition to providing detail on how your posts did, analytics also provide guidance on how best to interact with your audience, such as preferred post types/content, timing, etc.

Profile Pictures

All university-affiliated social media accounts are required to use the “B” shield with no text as their profile picture. With the range in sizes, these icons can appear in across desktop and mobile devices, this simple yet recognizable design will provide the maximum impact possible while reinforcing the university brand. These icons always appear with the social media account’s name directly to the right, which eliminates the need to individualize them for different units.

Platform-focused Recommendations

Facebook

Profile Picture: Bshield download

Cover Photos: 828 x 315 pixels
Use an image that represents your unique area. Steer clear of text in the image, as it can be cut off when displayed on a mobile device.

Page Name: Keep it consistent with other platforms. Do not abbreviate.

Facebook Tips:

  • Test different types of posts – links, photos, videos – to determine what your audience responds to most.
  • Encourage your audience to engage with your page through questions, polls, trivia, fill-in-the-blanks, etc. Do not blatantly ask followers to like comment or share.
  • Make sure your link posts have a good image. If there isn’t one, delete the link preview and share a photo, with the link in the text of the caption.
    • If your link displays a good image, delete URLs from the text box after the thumbnail and headline appear.
    • Don’t use hashtags unless part of a large campaign (ex: #BradleyHomecoming or #BradleyGrad)
    • Tag/Mention other Facebook pages, especially Bradley pages, whenever possible and appropriate. Do this by using their handle in the post, such as @BradleyUniversity, then clicking on the appropriate account name when it appears below where you are typing.
    • Try photo albums when you want to share multiple images, but limit them to no more than a dozen photos to keep followers engaged.
  • Don’t use hashtags unless part of a large campaign (ex: #BradleyHomecoming or #BradleyGrad)
  • Tag/Mention other Facebook pages, especially Bradley pages, whenever possible and appropriate. Do this by using their handle in the post, such as @BradleyUniversity, then clicking on the appropriate account name when it appears below where you are typin
  • Try photo albums when you want to share multiple images, but limit them to no more than a dozen photos to keep followers engaged.

Twitter

Profile picture: Bshield download

Cover photo: 1500 x 500 pixels

Use an image that represents your unique area. Steer clear of text in the image, as it can be cut off when displayed on a mobile device.

Username: Be as specific as possible within the 20-character limit. Your handle should contain BradleyU. Please refrain from using BU, as it can be confused with other universities.

Twitter tips:

  • Mention other Twitter accounts in your tweets in the same way you tag a Facebook page when possible and appropriate.
  • Enhance your tweets with photos to catch the attention of those skimming their feeds.
  • Join in trending topics (can be found on the left side of your Twitter homepage) only if relevant to your audience.
  • Use URL shorteners — ow.ly, bitly, TinyURL, etc. — when including long links to save characters and avoid broken links.
  • Follow similar accounts, as well as those in your industry, and retweet information your audience would find interesting or of value.
  • Use relevant hashtags, like #BradleyU, #BradleyHomecoming

Instagram

Profile Photo: Bshield download

Bio: Keep it short and sweet. If your area has a specific hashtag, encourage users to use it.

Instagram tips:

  • Use quality images that showcase your unit with a short explanatory copy of one to two sentences.
  • Consider branding your account with a style, including a common filter, subject type or another aspect.
  • Request permission and give attribution when reposting others’ images since sharing is not integrated into this platform, or use the Repost app that is designed for this purpose.
  • Do not include links in your posts, they are not clickable, and Instagram frowns on that practice.

YouTube

OMC manages a primary YouTube account as both a library and a server for its online video content. This account is intended to house videos for units all across campus, so they can embed, share and link these videos on websites or social media accounts. The channel is divided into many playlists tailored to different units and campus events, and new playlists are created regularly.

Units wanting to create video content to share are encouraged to do so but must either work with OMC on the creation of a dedicated playlist or provide to OMC the content for posting on the primary university channel. Units do not need their own YouTube accounts. Videos uploaded to YouTube must be in line with Bradley’s identity standards.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All university-produced video content must be closed captioned prior to being shared/posted for public consumption in accordance with the university’s ADA compliance policies. Captioning is done by an outside vendor and costs are the responsibility of the unit requesting the video to be posted. Please contact OMC to submit your video for captioning.

Hashtags

Many of the above platforms, specifically Twitter and Instagram, allow you to include hashtags in their posts. Hashtags enable users to find and share content on a single topic from a variety of sources. You also can use them to participate in popular events like #MotivationMonday, #WisdomWednesday, #TBT, etc.

If you’d like to use a new unique hashtag for your department or an event, search for it on the platform(s) you intend to use it with to make sure it’s not already in use. That step helps prevent users from getting confused by seeing someone else’s content instead of what they were expecting.

If possible, work your hashtag into a sentence, such as “We’re so excited for #BradleyMoveIn,” but avoid using more than one to two hashtags in a post, except for Instagram where more hashtags are the norm.

Below is a list of common Bradley hashtags. Contact OMC if you have one to add:

University

  • #BradleyU – For general university references.
  • #BradleyBound – For prospective students to share their Bradley admission process.
  • #BradleyUAlumni – For Bradley Alumni

Athletics

  • #BradleyBraves – For athletics references.
  • #AllAboutTheB – Athletics-related tagline.

Events

  • #BradleyMoveIn – For annual move-in day.
  • #BradleyHomecoming – For annual homecoming festivities.
  • #BradleyGrad – For Commencement
  • #VoteKaboom – For use with annual MVC Mascot Madness tournament.