Social Media Best Practices

We’ve compiled the following best practices based on our experiences managing social media for Dartmouth. It’s far from an exhaustive list, so if you have suggestions, please let us know!

Jump to a section: Twitter | Facebook | Flickr | YouTube | Foursquare

Twitter

TwitterHow/What You Tweet:

  • Avoid simply broadcasting your news.
  • Proofread before publishing! Check for spelling, grammar, links that work and displayed correctly.
  • Don’t display unattractive, long links – use a url shortener service such as bit.ly¬†or tinyurl.
  • Vary your content, physically speaking – news, events, photos, videos, etc – keep it diverse.
  • Vary your content story-wise i.e. avoid tweeting about or retweeting posts by one club/sports team/department significantly more than another.
  • Aphorisms & quick quotes always make for good content, whether timely or not, but make sure they are related to your brand.
  • Be objective, note that what you tweet or retweet isn’t necessarily an endorsement or sharing of your direct opinion but more that you are sharing a story etc with your audience for their feedback/thoughts.
  • Try tagging handles of any person/company talking about you i.e. the “@nytimes pens this piece about the @thayerschool engineering project w/ @greenigert”.
  • Don’t confine tweets to office hours. You don’t have to tweet throughout the night but an evening tweet or two helps (especially for those following on the West Coast and beyond).
  • If there will be a significant amount of time until your next tweet, no harm in sharing that i.e. Goodnight for now everyone. We’ll be back tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. EST.
  • Don’t tweet too many tweets in a row unless it’s live tweeting.
  • Post a disclaimer if you are live tweeting.
  • A schedule of what tweets to publish at what time can be helpful when your account is managed by more than one person.
  • If more than one person manages your account, make sure you review what’s been tweeted since your last log in to avoid tweeting the same item twice.
  • Think of what & how you retweet. Clicking the rewet button is easy & it visually shows an account talking about you. It can be good endorsement power. However, typing RT or MT (see Abbreviations) then typing the user’s handle name, followed by the text of the user’s tweet, keeps your twitter icon in your followers’ timeline. This can avoid confusion while reiterating your brand.
  • Remember to tag terms & people in twitpics.
  • Create & use hashtags whether it’s #GoBigGreen or #Thayer.
  • Have fun with trending hashtags i.e. for #replacewordinfamousquotewithduck we used lines from Conan’s Commencement speech “Work hard, be kind & duck things will happen”
  • Take advantage of Follow Friday (#FF or #followfriday) to promote partners, or accounts with similar interests. They may do you a favor back.
  • Leverage history & current events: if a famous person has a birthday or a significant event happened on a particular date, find URLs to share that encapsulate Dartmouth’s relationship to the event. i.e. on Willie Mays’ birthday we tweeted happy birthday and linked to the page about his HRD at Commencement.

Engaging Your Audience:

  • If someone talks to you, talk back – engage them, make them feel part of the channel, share with your followers what they have said. If you want it to be public, tag them in a tweet. If you want it to be private, use Direct Message.
  • Ask questions. People will respond. Then retweet and/or share what other accounts respond with in their tweets.
  • Congratulate/celebrate other accounts. Don’t make Twitter all about you. i.e. Congrats to @tuckschool for being named to the top 5 MBA schools by @forbes.
  • Do a Twitter search of your account name/brand/organization name to see who’s talking about you & what’s being said.
  • Respond to and/or share what’s being said.
  • When responding to an account, try infusing some of their language/question into your tweet so that it reiterates that you are paying attention and helps clue in third parties that can see the conversation taking place.
  • Don’t always wait for an account to mention you in order to say something to them, especially if they follow you and you follow them. i.e. @therealdratch “good luck on the show this weekend!”
  • Don’t wait too long to respond to a user.
  • Occasionally follow up on a user who contacted you in the past i.e. “How’s that paper going?”.
  • Reward users/followers who use positive language by engaging with them significantly more than those that don’t.
  • Leverage links, emails, phone numbers etc when answering questions/responding to provide as much info as possible.
  • Keep track of who follows you, you may find ideal accounts to follow back.
  • BUT Just because an account follows you doesn’t mean you have to follow them back.
  • Think carefully about who you follow, and what that may make others think about you.
  • If you follow an account and then that account follows you, send a direct message thanking them or post a tweet saying hello or thanking them.
  • Make efforts to follow/follow back any Dartmouth related account that is following you or talking about you (i.e. alums, students, offices, etc).
  • Make lists for efficiency i.e. a list of students you follow, a list of alumni you follow, a list of related interests you follow.
  • Be involved in other related networks -follow other twitter accounts, favorite certain tweets- establish a network around yourself and show inclusion.

General Account Management:

  • Sustainability is crucial – think before you jump – develop a plan, ensure there are resources (people + time) keep the channel active.
  • Think of ways to drive Twitter audience elsewhere i.e. “Enjoy this twitpic then see more at our Facebook/Flickr page.”
  • Consider the power of incentives – reward your users with small prizes to keep them engaged.
  • Stay in touch with your metrics – watch how users are using your site, monitor your growth.
  • Track your success, if a particular tweet, hashtag, campaign of tweets gets a significant number of mentions/retweets or instigates a spike in followers, examine what was done to create that tweet/campaign and try learning from it so that those practices/lessons can be applied to future tweets.
  • Have a clear avatar which displays your logo/name/photo properly – be aware of how it might get resized automatically.

Helpful suggestions for abbreviations:

  • MT for “modified tweet” if you alter a tweet by someone else
  • RT for retweet if you share word-for-word what someone else tweeted but chose to retype instead of hit the “retweet button” (this keeps your avatar/icon in your followers’ timelines)
  • DM for direct message (i.e. Hey, I sent you a DM)
  • PRT for “partial retweet” if what you’ve retreated is truncated
  • HT for “hat tip” nice way to attribute a link or statement to another user (can also use “via”)
  • CC for “carbon copy” which works just as it does when used in e-mail
  • IMHO for “in my humble opinion”
  • OH for “overheard”
  • FWIW for “for what it’s worth”
  • QOTD for “quote of the day
  • “BTW for “by the way”
  • TY for “thank you”
  • YW for “you’re welcome”
  • UFN for “until further notice”
  • FTW for “for the win”
  • GM & GN for “good morning” and “good night”
  • FYI for “for your information”
  • DYK for “did/do you know”

Suggested symbol/abbreviation use (because every character counts):

  • @ instead of at
  • & instead of and
  • % instead of percent
  • 1st instead of first, 2nd etc
  • Mar 24 or 3/24 instead of March 24th
  • 1p instead of 1 p.m., 4a instead of 4 a.m.
  • Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun
  • Natl instead of National
  • Ctr instead of Center
  • Use contractions like don’t instead of do not
  • Sec, min, hr, wk, yr instead of second, minute, hour, week or year

Facebook

FacebookWhat/How You Post:

  • Avoid simply broadcasting your news, events, information.
  • Vary your content – news, events, photos, videos, etc – keep it diverse, don’t allow the number of posts about one athletic team/student club/academic department to significantly outnumber others over time.
  • Proofread before publishing! Check for spelling, grammar, links that work and displayed correctly.
  • Don’t display unattractive, long links – use a url shortener service such as bit.ly.
  • Place questions at the end of posts to encourage response.
  • No more than three posts each day, if possible – avoid cluttering up friends news feeds and cause them to unlike you.
  • Don’t post solely between business hours. Think of what your audience may want to see in their feed first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, before or after dinner, etc.
  • If a significant amount of time will pass between posts make note of it in a casual “away message.” i.e. “We’re closing down the office for Winter Break & will be back January 4th. Have a great New Year everyone!
  • Try tagging accounts of any person/company in your posts. It may insert your post onto that person/company’s page for all of their friends/fans to see. i.e. “Robert Reich (Facebook page tagged) shared his thoughts on the widening wealth gap in this video.” Fans of Robert Reich will see the video & that Dartmouth produced it.
  • Be direct with the language in your posts & use “active” keywords/instructions i.e. “comment” “share” “submit” “post”… and ask simple questions that are easy to answer.
  • The shorter & sweeter the message, the easier it is for accounts to read & the more time they have to respond (yes, seconds matter).
  • Try brand specific URL shorteners.
  • When posting something other than a status update (i.e. link, video etc) pay close attention to the headline & paragraph that sometimes appear above where you write the status. Make sure you don’t repeat language between the headline, description paragraph and Status. Treat the headline and description paragraph like your status copy in that you check spelling, grammar and appearance.
  • If you have a successful post in which a lot of fans comment, re-visit that post & share/cite the fans with what they said i.e. “Last week we asked what you’re reading this summer. Lisa A said ….”. This makes the fans feel more connected.

Engaging Your Audience:

  • If someone talks to you, talk back – engage them, make them feel part of the channel.
  • When responding to an account, try infusing some of their language/question into your response so that it reiterates that you are paying attention and helps clue in third parties that are watching the conversation.
  • Respond to Wall Posts and comments that fans write on your posts. It lets them know you’re listening & keeps the conversation going.
  • Be involved in other related networks. Friend/Like other Facebook pages. Establish a network around yourself and show inclusion Comment on other statuses and posts. Like and share other posts, photos etc.
  • Don’t wait too long to respond to a user.
  • Leverage links, emails, phone #s etc when answering questions/responding to provide as much info as possible.
  • Occasionally follow up on a user who contacted you i.e. “How’s that paper going?”
  • Reward users/followers who use positive language by engaging with them significantly more than those that don’t.

General Account Management:

  • Try making some content exclusive to Facebook only, so that fans have to like you to obtain that content and future content.
  • Have a clear avatar which displays your logo/name/photo properly – be aware of how it might get resized automatically.
  • Consider the power of incentives – reward your users with small prizes to keep them engaged.
  • Think of ways to drive your Facebook audience elsewhere i.e. “Enjoy this Wall Picture then see more at our Flickr page”
  • Track your success, if a particular post gets a significant number of comments or likes or instigates a spike in fans, measure what was done to create that post/campaign and try learning from it so that those practices/lessons can be applied to future posts.
  • Keep track of your fans from day to day, if they like/fan you on Monday, make sure to comment on a post of theirs or write on their wall by the end of that week.
  • Sustainability is crucial – think before you jump – develop a plan, ensure there are resources (people + time) keep the channel active.
  • Stay in touch with your metrics – watch how users are using your site, monitor your growth.

Flickr

  • FlickrDisplay your content properly. Have good headlines, descriptions and links to related news. Always tag as specifically as possible. Use quotes when tagging more than one word i.e. “Leading Voices in Politics and Policy.”
  • Use geotagging.
  • Join relevant photo groups.
  • Always credit the photographer.
  • Upload high resolution versions and allow others to make use of them.
  • Leverage your sets/collections to organize your content.
  • Use Flickr to drive fans to other outlets. i.e. “if you like this photo, check out this video at YouTube channel”.
  • Comment on, favorite and notice other photos and accounts that post entries that are related to your brand/content to build your community.
  • Think of current trends, events or historical dates (i.e. birthdays, famous historical moments) to inspire photo ideas i.e. Anniversary of Fall of Berlin Wall, a picture of the speechwriter who wrote “tear down this wall”.
  • Respond to/thank anyone who favorites a photo of yours, and/or shares it elsewhere.
  • Try sharing links to your content in comments without being clearly promotional i.e. “great shot of The Green, have a copy we can add to this collection? {link to collection}.
  • Sustainability is crucial – think before you jump – develop a plan, ensure there are resources (people + time) keep the channel active.
  • Stay in touch with your metrics – watch how users are using your site, monitor your growth.

YouTube

  • YouTubeDisplay your content properly. Have good headlines and descriptions. Avoid repetitive language in both the headline and description paragraph. Always tag as specifically as possible. Use quotes when tagging more than one word i.e. “Leading Voices in Politics and Policy.” Make an effort to use the map location to showcase where the video was filmed.
  • Subscribe to channels that are of similar interest to your brand/organization.
  • Favorite/Like/Comment on videos that aren’t from your channel but pertain to your brand/organization.
  • If a user creates a response video that is tasteful, respond and consider sharing.
  • Reach out to and thank users that share your video or websites that embed your video, find ways to share related videos with them.
  • Vary your content (from “how to” videos to “day in the life” videos to event videos to interviews etc).

Foursquare

  • FoursquareEncourage staff to leave tips, etc in locations that Dartmouth/Upper Valley community members frequent. This could be considered valuable “insider information.”
  • Think of feasible rewards to give to “mayors” if you manage a place where people check in often.
  • Upload photos for check ins as much as possible.
  • Connect FourSquare accounts with Twitter & Facebook accounts to encourage cross-channel promotion/branding.