Social media tips and advice
Explore ways to grow your reach and interactions while managing a social media account at Sussex.
Running a social account
There are billions of Facebook users and a billion people on Instagram. Hundreds of millions more are using Linked In, Twitter and Snapchat.
This means we have to work hard to cut through the noise on social media.
To successfully run a social media account, you must not only think about content but also your users, your longer-term strategy and how you plan to measure success.
Think about content
Before you open an account, take time to consider if:
- you have enough quality content to post regularly
- you have the time and resources to be able to post as regularly as the platform’s audience expects, and
- the platform you are considering posting on is the most appropriate one.
Think about your audience
Is your planned content what your audience are likely to want, expect, and appreciate? Does it fit in with the expectations of the platforms? Are you posting your content at a time when people are most likely to see it and engage?
Before you post, think about the audience you want to reach and ask yourself:
- Who are they?
- Where are they?
- What do they do?
- What kinds of things do they like?
- What are their concerns?
- What are they interested in?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What type of content do they ‘like’ and share?
Consider your publishing strategy
Ask yourself the following questions: what content will I be posting and where? When is the best time to publish for my audience? Do I have a content schedule or plan? Do I have a sign-off procedure?
Think about what image sizes work best on each platform and follow guidance about the length, size and type of files needed for videos.
Be transparent about who is posting
Wherever possible, show that your University affiliated account is official by asking if it can be verified by the platform you’re using (for example, getting a blue tick on Twitter). If a student does a takeover, always make it clear who is posting (for instance, you might want to use their name or social media handle in the copy of the posts) even if you or someone else is signing off their work.
Stay in touch
Your audience will expect you to engage with them regularly, post new content frequently and answer enquiries promptly. If you’re not able to keep up with these expectations, they may lose interest and stop following you.
It’s not always possible to avoid attracting spam posts or fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, abusive and discriminatory comments. So it’s really important to check your accounts regularly so you can intervene and either remove, hide, report or respond to offensive posts or those which are in violation of any law or regulation.
Who’s your understudy?
Plan ahead for who will post content for you, or monitor your feeds, when you’re away, and have someone else who can help out if you’re unexpectedly off work. Social media never sleeps.
Mind your language
One of the great things about social media is its informality and immediacy. But it’s still important to keep your tone appropriate, professional and consistent when posting on a University affiliated account – or on any account where your link to Sussex is stated – as what you say could reflect on the University.
Keep a consistent voice
Even if there are several people posting on your account, agree your tone of voice and make sure everyone uses it. Aim to be semi-casual but avoid slang or jargon.
Unless it’s your individual account, speak in the first-person plural – for example, “We look forward to meeting you at our open day” or “Feel free to ask us for more information”.
Honesty and accuracy
Always double-check your facts – and people’s names – before you publish. If you’re not sure about something important, hold off on posting until you are. It’s hard to spot your own errors so, where possible and appropriate, ask someone else to check your copy for typos, grammar and spelling errors.
It can also be really helpful to have a second pair of eyes or sign-off procedure in place, especially for official University of Sussex accounts. This helps to ensure posts are grammatically, tonally and editorially accurate. Remember you’re acting as a voice of the University Sussex when you’re posting on a University affiliated account.
Online content is permanent
Even if you delete a post, people can capture and share content. Never say anything online that you wouldn’t say to the press, at a conference or job interview – or even to your family. Taking time to reflect before posting could save you a lot of trouble – and stop you from having to repent later.
Promote your accounts
There’s no point having a great social media account if no one knows it’s there. Take every opportunity to increase your audience and encourage engagement by promoting it.
You can mention it:
- in emails sent from your department
- on your part of the Sussex website
- during events and presentations.
Check how well you’re doing
It’s nice to know you’re doing well. Find out what’s doing really well (or otherwise) on your social media feeds to help improve your pages and grow your followers.
Most social media platforms (including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) have internal tools to help you analyse which of your posts are your most successful in terms of likes, shares, comments or views. This can help you to plan future content and increase your followers’ levels of engagement with you.