#CCUSocialMedia Best Practices
At Coastal Carolina University, we are committed to providing you with the best social media experience possible whether you are a student, parent, alumni, staff/faculty member or simply a fan of the school. One way we can provide this experience is through social media education and advice.
Welcome to our #CCUSocialMedia Best Practices page. Please check here each week for a short tip or lesson on social media. Expressed on this site will be the philosophies and principles we run our own social media program with. Make sure to let us know if you agree or if we are totally off mark.
A Lesson from the CCUSA Campaign
This week, our #CCUSA: Fifty States, Fifty Flags campaign wrapped up. When the campaign ended on Monday with the state of Kentucky, all 50 states and the District of Columbia were represented. The objective to highlight a literal #TEALnation was achieved.
We appreciate all of the state reps who participated in this campaign. Making the effort to plan a photo, take it, and then send it our way requires time. To those 51 people who sent us images, thank you!
If you followed the campaign on our social media outlets, you probably noticed that some photos received more engagement than others. It was by no means rocket science; the photos that showed maximum effort were rewarded with more likes and comments. Our audience showed favor to the state reps who took high resolutions shots, dressed in Coastal gear and showed off their state. Beautiful photos of national parks and city skylines fared much better than generic shots of buildings or license plates.
It didn’t take the #CCUSA campaign to establish that social media users prefer creative and beautiful photography over rushed and uninspired pictures. It is a no-brainer. However, sometimes our first reaction is to post or submit whatever photo is easiest to take. It is a social media best practice to resist this urge and think of your audience. They understand the difference between quality and non-quality; it is erroneous to think that we can trick them.
Whether posting for your own personal sites or for a business or non-profit, go the extra mile to make sure your photos are aesthetically pleasing and engaging. You should always put forth your best work.
Using, not abusing, filters
Perhaps no social media outlet allows the user to explore his/her creativity more than Instagram. The service has not only made the most mundane objects interesting, it has also allowed for the instant beautification of almost any image you take on your iPhone.
At the center of transforming an ordinary image into an eye-catching photo is a filter. For those who don’t know, filters are image manipulations that produce an effect on a photo. With the tap of your finger you can change an image to black and white, give it a rose colored tint, make it take on a retro look or even convert it to a cartoon. This just scrapes the surface. In addition to the in-house filters offered by Instagram, you can choose from thousands of others offered through hundreds of different photo editing apps.
At #CCUSocialMedia, we do utilize filters. In fact, two of our favorite photo editing apps are Pixlromatic and ColorSplash. However, we use them in moderation. Filters are a lot of fun to use, sometimes so much fun that you want to utilize them for every photo you post. We discourage this.
Filters blur reality to a degree, and anyone who uses social media on a regular basis knows this. When you encounter an Instagram account that utilizes filters for every single photo, you tend to ask this question: “What are they trying to hide?”
In order to be transparent and diverse, we recommend the utilization of filters for no more than 50 percent of your Instagram photos. This will show off both your real side and your creative side. For our own Instagram account, #CCUSocialMedia uses filters about 30 percent of the time. We want to showcase our campus and our students in a completely undoctored way.
So continue to play around with the amazing world of filters. Just be aware that filters can create a misleading perception, in much the same way as posting a 10-year old photo of yourself does.
Taking Measures to Prevent Grammar/Spelling Errors
A nightmare that will rattle any social media manager is the glaring spelling error or grammar mishap. You have a large audience, you have a great post and you have a wonderful image to go with it…but then you mess it up. Instead of spelling “University,” you somehow typed too fast, and it comes out “Univeristy.” Your audience kills you for it.
At #CCUSocialMedia, we are not immune from embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes. Errors are sometimes made, but luckily they take place on a Word document in front of an audience of one or two.
We highly recommend typing out as much social media content as possible on a word processing program before posting. While sometimes this won’t be practical, especially if you are live tweeting an event, we encourage you to take this extra step if possible.
Want to feel ultra-confident in your posts? Have a co-worker look it over before you share it with thousands of people. We all know that spell-check and grammar-check don’t always catch everything. A second set of eyes can come in handy during those instances when the word “ate” slipped through the cracks when it was supposed to be “are.”
Save yourself the stress, humiliation and backtracking that results from social media convention errors. Utilize every safeguard at your disposal to put out sparkling clean posts. This is something you will never regret.
How to Win a #CCUSocialMedia Contest
We strive to make #CCUSocialMedia synonymous with the word “fun.” Fresh content, innovative techniques and a presence on all the top networks all work together to achieve this goal. Another component that contributes to this “fun factor” is contests!
On a daily basis, we generate excitement in our audience by posting questions, running caption contests, encouraging the submission of photos and more. Many times we will reward an individual for an outstanding response/submission. As we usually only select one winner per contest out of sometimes hundreds of entries, our followers sometimes ask what they can do to gain an advantage over the competition. Here are some tips to increase your chances of becoming a #CCUSocialMedia winner.
- Explain Explain Explain: Make sure to fully answer the particular post. If it asks you to explain, then make sure to explain. One word answers won’t win you a prize.
- Stand Out: We love responses that are unique. If you feel like providing a certain answer but see that 50 people before you have already responded that way, think up something else. We tend to reward thoughtful responses that deviate from the norm.
- Grammar/Spelling Counts: While you should never feel like you are in English class when posting to #CCUSocialMedia, you can increase your chances by using basic conventions. Numerous misspellings, no punctuation whatsoever and an excess of emoticons will most likely take you out of the running.
- Keep it Coastal: Remember that you are providing content that has to do with Coastal Carolina University. Advertising for businesses, plugging a political cause or tagging eight of your friends in a comment won’t just ruin your chances to win; it will get your comment deleted.
- Crystal Clear: When submitting photos, do a few things. First, submit photos that are clear and at least 72 PPI. Second, please don’t ever apply a filter. Third, submit multiple photos individually. Please resist the urge to group photos into an electronic collage.
We do have one last piece of advice that will most likely make you a #CCUSocialMedia winner: Don’t Give Up. Haven’t won yet? Just keep participating! We recognize the loyal members of our social media audience. If you do the above things and participate on a consistent basis, you will eventually be a winner. Chanticleers are persistent!
Why We Don’t Share Third-Party Social Content
Our Facebook and Twitter inboxes fill up regularly. People contact us to ask questions, share their pride in CCU and submit mailing information for prizes won through our promotions. We also get one additional type of message: the request for us to share content on our wall or timeline.
These requests are usually well-intentioned. People want their charity recognized, a fundraiser promoted or a birthday wish posted. They understand the power of social networks and naturally want a boost from #CCUSocialMedia. However, we can’t help.
As mentioned, our social media inboxes fill up constantly, with many messages of the content-sharing variety. If we were to post one or two of these, the expectation of other organizations and individuals would be that we would post them all. Could you imagine a Facebook wall that contained a constant slew of event dates and birthday shout-outs? Our accounts would no longer be about Coastal Carolina University.
We decided against posting on the behalf of third parties in order to maintain a quality, focused presence within our social media sites. People follow our accounts because they want to be further connected to Coastal. If we were to post content not related to our institution, we would be doing the exact opposite of what our audience wants. In addition, right or wrong, people associate social media sharing with endorsement. We want to avoid that slippery slope altogether.
We strive to give our social media audience the best possible experience. In order to do that, limiting our posts to CCU-related content and information is a necessary best practice.
Dealing With Negative Social Media Feedback
It happens on millions of Facebook pages daily. An unhappy customer, community member or fan will type out a tirade underneath a post, picture or sometimes on the wall itself. The anger seems to escape through the computer screen and hit whoever happens to see the disgruntled text. All caps and numerous exclamation points do a good job of conveying frustration.
What should a page administrator do in this situation?
At Coastal Carolina University, we are not immune to criticism on social media. Although the volume is small, it does happen every now and then. Do we rush for the delete button each time someone is critical of us? Hardly.
We want to be as transparent as possible on our social media networks. If someone posts a criticism or complaint, we will leave it up most of the time. Not only will we leave it up, we will respond to it as well. Social media users who have an issue can expect a prompt and courteous answer from us. We will do all we can to remedy the situation in a thoughtful and respectful manner.
The few occasions when we will delete a post occur when a person lashes out in a way that is inappropriate and/or offensive to others, especially our younger audience. Curse words, off-topic rants and name-calling will get a post on any Coastal Carolina social media outlet deleted immediately. Feel free to take up an issue with us; just please make sure to keep it clean.
We respond on social media in the same way that we listen and respond to our audience in person, on the phone, and through e-mail. You will never see us utilizing our computer screens to hide from the tough questions.
Resisting the Urge to Duplicate Content
Sometimes it is hard to resist. You take a cool photo, and you want to share it with everyone, even if it means sharing it with everyone more than once. You press a button and you send the image to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts all at once. Your over-140-character caption loses meaning on Twitter, and your slick Instagram filter looks out of place on Facebook.
At #CCUSocialMedia, we do our best to stay away from duplicating content across our social media channels. We do this for a few reasons. First, we want you to visit each of our channels for unique content. If you knew that everything we posted on Facebook would also show up on Instagram and Twitter, why waste time following us on those channels? Second, we recognize that each social media service has distinguishing characteristics and a certain style. We want to maximize our presence on each of our individual social media outlets, and a major way to do that is to format content according to the specific channel. Finally, many social media users consider mass posting to multiple accounts a lazy practice. The last thing we want #CCUSocialMedia to be thought of is lazy.
Do you frequently post the same content across channels? Don’t sweat it. Chances are you don’t have as much time to obsess over social media as we do. However, if you do have the means to diversify your content and fight back the temptation to splash the same selfie across every social network account you have, we recommend it.