Social Media Best Practices
General Best Practices
Presence and Maintenance
- Social media accounts at Tufts must be logged into a minimum of once per workday to monitor and respond to posts, comments, mentions, etc.
- Be present and responsive. Having an official social media account at Tufts requires diligent maintenance and upkeep, including answering users’ questions and monitoring comments. Establishing and then deserting or not regularly checking a social media channel is not allowed at Tufts.
- Tufts requires that at least two staff or faculty members have access to each Tufts account that is created and that login information is kept with the school or department. Any new accounts should be created using a Tufts.edu email address.
- Since the Tufts brand is reflected in all messaging and interactions across digital, print, and multimedia channels, the university’s brand guidelines must be followed for all work related to social media, including with any use of voice, tone, colors, or logos.
- Frequency of updates varies for each channel. Use an editorial calendar to schedule content creation (and subsequent publication) more efficiently. Don’t hoard content and post it all at once.
- On X/Twitter, users expect frequent updates. Accounts at Tufts should have enough content to post each day. Managers should log in each day to check mentions and direct messages.
- People expect less frequent posts from pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Log in at least once per workday to check on the page and monitor check-ins, tags, and comments; posting content 3-5 times on non-X/Twitter channels each week is reasonable.
- Instagram accounts at Tufts should have enough content to post at least a few times each week (between Instagram and Instagram Stories.) Managers should log in each day to like and comment on users’ photos, respond/engage/monitor comments, and tags.
- For a video or photo service like YouTube, where content is less likely to be fed en masse into a user’s stream, update according to how much content you have available. If you have a video a day or a video a month, either is fine. If you have no photos for three weeks before receiving 50 from a recent event, feel free to add them all at once.
- Always seek out high-res images, saved for web, for publishing on social media. Dimensions for social media posts are available here.
- You should never share photos that you don’t have permission to share, and you should avoid sharing screenshots (which are usually lower-quality and can lead to less optimal viewing experiences and engagement.)
- When using hashtags, if the hashtags combine multiple words (example: #TuftsUniversity), be sure to capitalize the first letter of each new word. This is especially helpful for individuals who use screen readers to view your social media posts.
- Per the university’s social media policy, official Tufts accounts should encourage engagement and interaction with and among followers; however, they should reserve the right to remove content that is spam, commercial, off-topic, obscene, harassing or derogatory. If you have any questions or feel you need to discuss whether content, such as comments, meet the criteria for removal, please reach out to UCM.
Measurement and Analytics
- Measurement and analytics are key to assessing your success in social media.
- Each social media platform offers insights into the performances of your posts on the respective channels, while software applications such as X-Pro (formerly TweetDeck) and Hootsuite, among others, can help you schedule, organize, analyze, and monitor your posts all in one place.
- Study the data provided by the respective analytics/insights functions in Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
- Match analytics information against content and engagement to determine what yielded certain results.
- Be personable and accessible, while keeping in mind the guidelines offered here. Having a personality and a voice will help you build your audience.
- Once you have established your social media presence, cross-promote on your various channels, both online and offline. Whether you have a print brochure and/or a website, promote the handles for your social accounts in those materials and on those platforms to drive people to your social media channels, and vice versa.
- Don’t judge your success solely on numbers. While it is tempting to use views or fans or follower count as metrics by which to assess your engagement in social media, it is not the ideal measurement. In social media, quality trumps quantity. Every community is different. For example, you may have fewer followers on X/Twitter, but if you are cultivating a highly engaged community, the number means little.
- Building a successful community via social media is a process. You must be present and engaged consistently over time, and you must measure the effectiveness of that engagement over time.
Managers of Facebook pages at Tufts must be able to check on the page at least once per workday and should have enough content to post at least once each week. Reminder: Each Tufts Facebook page should have at least two staff or faculty members as administrators with full access to the page. (Others may need intermediate levels of permissions for the page.)
- Do not create a personal profile for a university department, organization, or office. Profiles are designed for individuals only and users may view inappropriate profiles as misleading. Creating a “personal account for anything other than an individual person” is a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service and Facebook warns that violators are at risk of “permanently losing access to the account and all of its content.”
- Similarly, do not create a separate personal Facebook account to become a page administrator for any Facebook pages you manage. Having more than one personal Facebook account is a violation of Terms and Services and could lead to your Facebook access being shut down.
- Avoid posting the same status updates on both Facebook and X/Twitter. Some services and applications allow you to post the exact same text and links to both channels at once. Since X/Twitter and Facebook are different platforms with different audiences, tone, frequency of posts, and strategy and goals, updates to each should be unique. Visually, these statuses often look incorrect since they may exceed X/Twitter’s character limit or fail to correctly show the link or any tagged accounts on Facebook. If you want to post the same information on both channels, craft each status so that it makes the most of the style and tools of each platform.
- Pay attention to your insights. Facebook Audience Insights offer a lot of information about the people who like your page and their interests. Your job is to understand what the insights mean and use them to create posts that will engage your fans, encourage interaction with the page, and attract new likes.
- Be visually pleasing. Users visiting your page are drawn to visually appealing layouts and posts. Be sure to highlight photos and other visual posts while remembering to delete pasted links in status updates once a thumbnail has been populated and edit statuses so they are not too lengthy. You should always look to utilize correctly sized preview images and avoid sharing links where “pre-populated” preview images could hurt your audience’s engagement (images where faces/text are cut off, for example).
- Let your fans speak. People may sometimes comment on a post that is critical or negative. Correcting a mistake, apologizing, and offering to do better in the future, or providing information about the event in question is often the best way to let the poster know you have heard them. Unless the post is profane, obscene, harassing or threatening, it is not a best practice to delete it.
- Increase the chances your content is seen. An algorithm impacts the order in which your followers may see your Facebook posts, so the more you share content that your audiences will engage with (or types of content that matches what your audiences are already engaging with), the greater the chance they will see your posts in their feeds.
- Use Alt text. When uploading photos to Facebook, be sure to utilize alt text so that it is accessible for all audience members. More information can be found here.
X/Twitter encourages frequent updates, engagement, and sharing of content. Account managers at Tufts must be able to log in to their account at least once per workday and should be able to post often and respond with some immediacy. Reminder: Each Tufts X/Twitter page should have at least two staff or faculty members as administrators with full access to the page.
- Listen and respond. Don’t only monitor posts that mention your handle directly but set up a search so you can keep an eye on what is happening when people do not tag you in their post. When it’s appropriate, respond or share.
- Avoid posting the same status updates on both X/Twitter and Facebook. Some services and applications allow you to post the same text and links to both channels at once. Since X/Twitter and Facebook are different mediums with different audiences, tone, frequency of posts, strategy and goals, updates to each should be unique. Visually, these statuses often do not look correct since they go over X/Twitter’s character limit (currently 280 characters on non-verified channels) or don’t show the link correctly on Facebook. If you want to post the same information on both channels, craft each status so that it makes the most of the style and tools of each platform.
- Use hashtags and mention other users. Two of the key elements of X/Twitter are the use of hashtags and the ability to tag other users in your posts. Hashtags allow users to join a wider conversation, so including one or two relevant hashtags in your posts can put it in front of more than just your followers. Tagging other accounts in your posts gives them credit for the material (for example: crediting a link to @nytimes) and alerts them that they’ve been mentioned, which may prompt them to repost or comment.
- Be intentional with the hashtags you use. Before using hashtags or mentioning other users, make sure the accounts you tag are active, and the content generated by hashtags is related to whatever content you are sharing.
- Pay attention to analytics. Currently, free X/Twitter metrics are available at analytics.twitter.com. These metrics offer some insight into the reach and popularity of your posts. Your job is to understand what the metrics mean and use them to create posts that will engage your fans, encourage retweets and favorites, and attract new followers.
- Follow the main Tufts University handle and other official Tufts accounts. It is good practice to follow other Tufts handles and occasionally repost relevant information.
- Follow back. Following back those who follow you is one way to build a relationship with your followers. Fostering relationships and encouraging interaction is key, and following back relevant, appropriate followers builds goodwill with your audiences.
- Use a client. Clients like X-Pro (formerly TweetDeck) have many advantages that make them great tools for managing your X/Twitter account:
- You can schedule posts in advance, so even if you cannot check your account continuously, you can schedule appropriate posts throughout the day. (You can also schedule posts directly via your X platform.)
- Their interfaces allow you to choose various streams to monitor, so you can monitor posts that mention you, Tufts’ lists, search terms, direct messages, etc.
- X-Pro is currently a paid service that is available to those who have paid for verification.
- Use Alt text. When uploading photos to X/Twitter, be sure to utilize alt text so that it is accessible for all audience members. X/Twitter shows whether alt text has been used on all its images, so it’s easy to see when it hasn’t been used. Alt text should be added before publishing a post, as there is currently no way to add alt text after publication.
- Tag your post(s) effectively. Unless you are replying directly to a specific post, you should never start a post by directly tagging another account. If you want to start your post by mentioning another account, place a period before the handle (@ symbol) so that your post can be seen by everyone in their feeds. Example: “.@TuftsUniversity’s mascot is Jumbo the elephant.”
Managers of Instagram accounts at Tufts should check their accounts at least once each workday and have enough content to post a few times each week. Reminder: Each Tufts Instagram page should have at least two staff or faculty members as administrators with full access to the page.
- Use hashtags. Like X/Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags. Tagging your photos means that more people may see them, since they may be searching that tag. But be careful: too many hashtags can be seen as spammy.
- Interact with others. Search for photos that may be relevant to your department, office, or group. Interact with others by liking and commenting on photos that are relevant to you. Help build on the user experience.
- Tag locations. Tagging the location where the photo was taken gives some context to the image and gives another way for your content to be discovered by Instagram users.
- Consider Stories. Instagram Stories are special photos and videos that are seen by followers for just 24 hours. They appear at the top of the Instagram feed. Instagram Stories allow you to share links, add music and gifs, and offer other engagement tools that may help you engage with your audiences.
- Increase the chances your content is seen. An algorithm impacts the order in which you see both Instagram posts and Instagram Stories. The more you share content that your audiences will engage with, the greater the chance that both your Instagram posts and Instagram Stories will be seen.
- Use Alt text. When uploading photos to Instagram, be sure to utilize alt text so that it is accessible for all audience members. If uploading via a mobile device, alt text can be added at the time of posting. If scheduling through a client, alt text can be added afterward by clicking the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of your post and clicking edit alt text.
Managers of LinkedIn pages at Tufts must check the page every few days and must have content to provide to users at least once per week. Reminder: Each Tufts LinkedIn page should have at least two staff or faculty members as administrators with full access to the page. (Others may need intermediate levels of permissions for the page.)
- Don’t focus on “selling” your organization/entity. Rather, put the focus on the group and members. Provide content that is appealing to them.
- Carry on the conversation. Facilitate discussions by posting useful information and prompts for future discussions.
- Make introductions between members. Simple introductions can add a personal touch to your page members’ experience.
- Use Alt text. When uploading photos to LinkedIn, be sure to utilize alt text so that it is accessible for all audience members. More information about using Alt text on LinkedIn can be found here.
YouTube and Vimeo are video hosting/sharing platforms that showcase a variety of user-generated content. Videos can be shared on other social sites or taken from platforms and embedded directly on a user’s blog or website.
- Don’t use copyrighted material. If your video is set to music, you must use royalty-free music and sound effects. To use a copyrighted piece, you must contact the owner. Most often the owner, writer, and/or publisher will be listed on sheet music or a CD label. See the Tufts Social Media Policy For Official Social Media Accounts for more information on copyright rules.
- Use proper credits. If you are creating video content for the university, include credit(s) on a slide at the end of all videos that gives credit to the creator and the affiliated school/program/etc. – or, at minimum, include credit(s) in accompanying social copy.
- Include “Tufts” in your file names. Including the word “Tufts” in the naming of your raw video file will help enhance your search engine optimization. (e.g., use “TuftsStudyAbroadProfile.mov” instead of “StudyAbroadProfile.mov”).
- Contest must be accessible. Effective June 30, 2022, Tufts University adopted a Captioning Policy in order to ensure that Tufts multimedia digital content is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Read more about how to create captions and subtitles on YouTube.
Since social media sites are always changing, so, too, are best practices. In addition to following the practices listed above, reach out to colleagues in the social media profession and use search engines to stay abreast of best practices in social media usage.
Updated: November 2023