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General Social Media Best Practices

HBU Best Practices Infographic 2018
(click to enlarge)

Purpose

For each and every post, ask yourself before posting:

  • How does this post encourage community?
  • How does this post help recruit students or employees?
  • How does this post strengthen HBU’s reputation?
  • How does this post encourage generosity or service?

You should be able to definitively answer at least one of these questions.

Think about your department’s mission. Are you hitting your target market? Does each post contribute to the mission of your organization?

Presence and Maintenance

  • Social media accounts should be logged into once per day at minimum to respond to comments, posts, messages and mentions.
  • Be responsive. Answer questions and monitor comments on a daily basis.
    • Try to respond to every message within 24 hours.
    • See the negative feedback section below. (anchor link)
  • Be personable and accessible. View your account as a resource for your users to get to know the University and feel like valued members of the HBU community.
  • Use an editorial calendar to plan out your posts. Frequency of posts varies by channel.
    • Resource: We recommend a scheduling tool, such as HootSuite or Buffer to help schedule posts.

What should you post on social media?

  • Content about your school/department/organization
    • Your students
    • Your alumni
    • Your faculty/staff
    • Your programs
    • Your deadlines
    • Facts and figures
    • Your history
  • Upcoming events/Coverage of events
  • Tips and tricks that relate to your organization
  • Questions to engage your followers
  • Major University news
  • Responses to comments and questions
  • Sharing- The majority of your content should be original, but we do recommend sharing relevant articles, events, and news for your organization.

Comments and Posts by Users

The HBU Social Media Policy gives all official account administrators permission to hide and/or delete inappropriate comments and block repeat offenders. Your account must state: “Houston Baptist University reserves the right to remove posts, comments, or other content from HBU social media sites that contain inappropriate material or do not adhere to the University’s standards. The views expressed by guest posters do not reflect that of the University.”

Inappropriate content

  • Delete/hide inappropriate posts by users.
    • On Facebook & Instagram, you can delete comments.
    • On Twitter, you can block users from interacting with your content.
  • Inappropriate content includes:
    • Dangerous or derogatory content
      • hateful, discriminatory, bullying, exploitative
      • threatens harm or advocates self-harm
    • Shocking content
      • violent/gruesome language or images
      • obscene/profane language or images
      • intended to shock or scare, ex: suggests everyone is in danger, etc
      • sexual content of any kind
    • Sensitive events
      • lacks reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, or other tragic event
    • If someone is regularly harassing your page, contact Innovation and Strategic Marketing.
    • In the case of an emergency, contact the HBU Police.
    • In the case of a student discussing sexual harassment, immediately contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator.

Negative feedback

  • Respond quickly, professionally and empathetically to negative feedback about HBU.
  • Don’t delete negative feedback from Facebook/Instagram where it’s possible. Deletion may signal to your users that HBU doesn’t care what they think.
    • Sample responses: “We’re so sorry you had this experience. We want to help. Please contact ____.”
  • Don’t feed the trolls. If someone is clearly trying to tarnish HBU’s name, send them the email of our senior director of media technology, Clay Porter, cporter@hbu.edu in a private message.
    • Block repeat offenders.
    • If someone is regularly harassing your page, contact ISM.

Direct Messages

  • Respond to messages as soon as possible (within 24 hours).
  • Always direct a message to the responsible department.

See the Social Media Procedures for how to block users by platform.

Measurement and Analytics

Account Inactivity

  • The Social Media Policy states, “Accounts that are inactive for more than 4 months will be subject to review, which may result in deactivation or deletion.”
  • Exceptions include athletics off-seasons and summer break.
    • If the content of your account is dependent upon the presence of students on campus, post right before school releases and as soon as students return.
  • Note the best practices regarding frequency of posts by platform below. If the organization represented by your account(s) does not have relevant content to follow these best practices, the account needs to be evaluated.
  • Contact SMAC for assistance in planning content.
Platform Recommended Frequency
Facebook Page 1-6 posts/week
Instagram Feed 1-3 posts/week
Instagram Stories At least 1 story/day
Twitter 5 tweets/day
LinkedIn Page 1-6 posts/week
SnapChat At least 2 posts/week
YouTube 1 post/week

Graphics

Graphics are an essential part of any social media account’s activity.

    • Well-lit
    • Bright colors
    • Action shots when appropriate
    • Negative space
    • Interesting angles
    • Groups of people
    • Attractive and relevant background
  • Resources for creating quality graphics.
  • Official colors: When creating a graphic that contains the HBU orange and blue, use the official HEX colors:
    • Orange #FB4F14
    • Blue #002D72
  • Page profile/Cover photos
    • Your profile and cover photos should reflect the HBU brand.
    • In your profile photo, use either a branded photo that represents your organization or an organization-specific logo.

Cross-Posting

Cross-posting is when you set a post to automatically post from one platform to another, either through native settings or with a scheduling tool. We do not recommend cross-posting. You can post the same information across platforms, but each post should be tailored to each social media platform.

  • DO NOT natively cross-post from Instagram to Twitter. The photo will not appear on Twitter.
  • DO NOT set every tweet to cross-post to other platforms. Doing so will break the best practices regarding frequency for the other platforms.
  • DO NOT cross-post Instagram and Twitter posts to LinkedIn or Facebook, as the trending and relevant hashtags will be out of place.
  • DO tailor each post to its platform for best engagement results using the best practices found below.
  • If you do choose to cross-post, be prepared to respond to comments on all platforms.

Best Practices by Platform

 

Social Media Platforms in a Glance – January 2018

Platform Expected Audience Driving Force Time Avg. User Spends
Facebook Adults, 52% Women Community Engagement 35 minutes/day
Instagram Teen-35, 58% Women Images, Engagement 15 minutes/day
Twitter 18-49, 53% Men News 2.7 minutes/day
LinkedIn Professionals, 54% Men Business Networking, Business News 17 minutes/month
SnapChat 13-24, 70% Women Casual, intimate interaction 25 minutes/day
YouTube 25-44, 55% Men Great videos 40 minutes/day
Pinterest 18-50, 60% Women Images, Ideas 14.2 minutes/day

Sources: https://www.spredfast.com/social-media-tips/social-media-demographics-current

Facebook – Always Encourage Community

Facebook is the largest social platform. Its algorithm highly values community building and continues to prioritize what personal profiles post rather than what Pages post. Because of this, it has become even more important that the content we produce be shareable, high value content for our Page followers.

  • Do not create a Facebook profile for an organization. You must create a Page or Group.
  • Pages should be public, and any information shared on a Page is intended for public consumption.

About section

  • Include basic information about your organization.
  • Specify that your page is an “official” page.
  • Include a contact email and phone number.
  • Use the HBU address if you are located on campus.

Frequency of posts on Pages

  • Choose quality over quantity.
  • We recommend 6 or less posts per week, but monitor your engagement. Your page results may prove that more or less than 6 posts per week improves engagement.
  • At minimum, you should post to Facebook one time per week.
  • At maximum, you should post about 15 times per week.

Groups

  • The current (December 2017) default setting for a Facebook Group is for 100% of the group members to see every post. In contrast, a Facebook Page post reaches 2-3% of the Page’s followers. Members can easily unfollow a group. Make sure every post in a Group is well-timed and high quality.
  • Build groups around a common interest/degree/class/organization.
  • Link groups to your page.
  • Encourage conversation and community within the group. Often, encouraging conversation means being silent and allowing the group to grow and interact organically. (This is especially true with students, as the group administrator is often seen as an authority figure.)
  • Do not solely use groups to advertise to group members. Instead, try to cultivate relationships with members by responding to questions promptly.
  • Note: You cannot directly invite page followers to a Facebook Event, but you can invite group members to an event.

Events

  • The events tool is useful for promoting and building community around a particular event.
  • Ask page followers to invite their friends.
  • You cannot directly invite page followers to an event, but you can invite group members to an event.
  • Promote the link to the Facebook event in emails and on other social platforms.
  • Link to the HBU.edu event page (if one exists) in the description of your Facebook Event.
  • If an RSVP or ticket through HBU.edu is necessary, make that clear in your event information.

Photos

  • Photos tend to perform better than posts without a graphic.
  • Invite users to tag themselves in photos.
  • Always utilize the photo description tool to provide context.
  • Post quality photos. See GRAPHICS.
  • Resource: Use Landscape by Sprout to correctly size a photo.
  • Resource: For graphics with text, Facebook has provided a tool to determine if your graphic will be suitable for a boosted post: Image Text Check Tool

Commenting/Liking/Sharing

  • Share responsibly.
  • Interact with other HBU Pages and Groups to encourage interaction across campus as well as by users with different areas of the University.
  • Respond to people who comment and like posts on your page.
  • Share valuable content from your users. Sharing the content of others encourages them to share your content and helps cultivate community.
  • We recommend a small portion of your content be from others:
    • News stories or blogs
    • Followers’ posts
    • Highlights of students, alumni and friends

Videos

  • Videos should be beneficial and relevant to your page and audience.
  • Performance:
    • Native videos will perform better than linked videos. A native video is one that is uploaded directly to Facebook, not a video on YouTube or Vimeo that is linked to Facebook.
    • Short videos (5-60 seconds) tend to perform better than long videos.
    • Videos tend to perform better than photos.

Live videos

  • Live videos are allowed and encouraged. However, be certain that the content of the live video will accurately reflect the University and will be both beneficial and relevant to your audience.
  • Always promote a live video in advance on Facebook and your other social media platforms.
  • Encourage questions and engage with your audience during the live video.
  • After the live video, make sure all comments were acknowledged, especially comments that were questions.
  • Live videos are not always appropriate. Some examples of appropriate use of live videos:
    • Question-and-Answer sessions with essential departments, including admissions, financial aid, or residence life
    • Coverage of a planned event
    • Student/alumni interviews around something that ties to the news cycle or a school achievement

Messenger

  • Respond to messages as soon as possible (within 24 hours).
  • Pages with large audiences should set up an automated response for messages. This lets users know that you aren’t ‘ignoring’ them.
  • Always direct a message to the responsible department.

Tagging Other Pages

  • Tag pages relevant to your post so that administrators of other HBU pages will know when you post something valuable to them.
  • Do not spam-tag (tagging as many people as possible even when the post is not relevant to them).

Editing Mistakes

  • Small grammatical or punctuation errors can and should be edited in the post itself. No public acknowledgement is necessary in the majority of these situations.
  • Informational or factual errors should be corrected on the post and addressed on the thread, if necessary.
  • Always correct mistakes.

Mobile Use

  • Download and use the Facebook Pages Manager app to like, comment, and post as your Page using your mobile device.

Analytics

  • On the Insights tab of your page, you can see information about past posts. You can also download insights through the Export Data
  • See Measurement and Analytics

 

Instagram – Quality over Quantity

Instagram is an image-driven platform with hundreds of millions of users. Instagram highly values engagement and prioritizes posts based on their user value, not chronology. Instagram is currently the most influential platform for current and prospective college students. A good rule of thumb is to try to make your account look like a person’s. If this were your personal account, what types of photos and information would you post?

Bio information

  • Include basic information about your organization.
  • Specify that your page is an “official” page.
  • The link in the bio is the only clickable link allowed on Instagram. Use the official link to your organization page on HBU.edu.
    • Exception: If you are driving traffic to a blog on HBU.edu or a leads form, update the link in your profile temporarily.
  • Include “Houston, Texas” if your organization headquarters are in Houston.

Frequency of posts

  • Recommended: 1-3 posts per week (not including stories) is a great place to start.
  • At minimum, you should post in your feed once every 10 days.
  • At maximum, you should post in your feed 7 times per week.
  • Note: There may be times when an emergency situation calls for a post that doesn’t “fit” the account. You can delete the post after the emergency situation has passed.

Images

  • Instagram is an image-driven platform. Only your very best images should be posted on the Instagram page. See GRAPHICS.
  • You can post up to 10 photos in one post. Very few users will look at all 10 photos. In most cases, less is more. Choose your one best photo to post.
  • There are many free photo editing apps available. Instagram also has in-app tools for editing your own pictures.
    • Instagram’s in-app preset filters should be used sparingly. Quickly editing your own photos through Instagram (i.e., adjusting brightness, contrast, etc.) or another app is often more effective than using the filters.

Captions

  • Captions should be attention-grabbing and easy to read.
  • Place the most important words at the beginning of the caption.
  • Use your best judgement on length. If a photo has a good story, don’t be afraid to use it. Instagram users generally scroll through the app at a brisk pace, but there are certainly very successful accounts that use long-form captions.
  • Always proofread. Mistakes are more common on a mobile device.

Hashtags

  • Participate in the HBU trending and Instagram trending hashtags.
  • Only use hashtags relevant to your post.

Location

  • Always include a location tag in your post. Posts with a location tag get 79% more engagement than posts without one.
  • You can tag the location as Houston Baptist University so that users can easily locate HBU related photos.
  • You can alternatively tag the location as simply Houston, TX, to drive more traffic to the post.

Commenting/Liking/Reposting

  • Comments are highly valued on Instagram. Create posts that encourage comments. Ask questions in your posts, and appropriately respond to comments on your posts.
  • Like user comments on your posts.
  • Like and comment on your followers’ posts when appropriate. Make your followers feel like part of the community.
    • Be mindful that you are liking as the organization (not yourself) when selecting posts to like.
  • If a follower posts something of high value to your organization, request their permission to repost it.
    • Always give credit to the original poster in a repost.
    • Instagram is a platform about creation so the majority of your content should be original, not reposted.

Stories

  • The Instagram Story is a feature in which you can post a full-screen photo or video with hashtags, captions, and stickers. A Story is available for 24 hours.
  • Instagram Stories are encouraged for advertising events and highlighting students at events.
  • While the Instagram page is carefully curated, the Story is a more casual look at your organization’s daily events and personality.
  • Using Instagram Stories, you can run miniature polls and use these polls to get to know your followers.
  • Stories can be “highlighted” – saved into folders at the top of your profile. This is a new feature that deserves exploring but should not be overused.
  • Takeovers: Takeovers are a great idea. However, it is necessary to draft clear policies if privileges for an account are going to be delegated – even for a temporary time.

Tagging

  • We highly encourage tagging relevant users so that administrators of other HBU accounts will know when you post something valuable to them.
  • Do not spam-tag (tagging as many people as possible even when the post is not relevant to them).
  • You can tag someone by typing their Instagram name preceded by the @symbol, e.g. @HoustonBaptistU

Editing Mistakes

  • You can edit a post on Instagram. Always correct mistakes.
  • Editing a post is always preferable to reposting with corrected information.

Analytics

  • To use analytics on Instagram, you must be a business account linked to a Facebook page.
  • Analytics provide information such as:
    • When users are accessing your page (day of the week and time of day)
    • Demographics of followers
    • Data points including how posts are accessed
  • Instagram provides a “What does this mean?” section under each set of data that explains what the data reflects.
  • See Measurement and Analytics

Cross-posting

  • Direct cross-posting is not encouraged.
  • See other sections on how to tailor content to other platforms.
  • DO NOT cross-post to Twitter. The photo will not appear in the Twitter feed.
  • See Cross-Posting in General Best Practices.

 

Twitter – Quantity and Personality Win

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter’s feed is based on chronology. Therefore, quantity is necessary to be seen and heard. The average Twitter user tends to engage with humor and news. We encourage a more casual and personable Twitter presence.

Are you brand new to Twitter? Start here with the basics – https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter#tweets

About section

  • Include the basic information about your organization.
  • Specify that your account is an “official” account.
  • Link to your organization’s HBU.edu page.

Frequency of Tweets

  • Recommended: 5 tweets per day, including retweets
  • At minimum, you should tweet once per day.
  • There is no maximum.
  • You can tweet the same post several times because the average tweet has about a 15-minute lifespan.
  • We highly encourage using a scheduling tool, such as HootSuite or Buffer.

Image sizes

Hashtags

  • Participate in the HBU and Twitter trending hashtags.
  • Only use hashtags relevant to your tweet.

Commenting/Liking/Retweeting

  • Participate in the Twitter-verse by commenting, liking, and retweeting your followers’ tweets when appropriate.
  • Though opinions differ on how much you should be retweeting/sharing other content, it is universally acknowledged that you should have a mix in your posts: some of your own content and some from others.
    • News stories or blogs
    • Followers’ tweets
  • Respond to negative feedback when appropriate, if your comment will be of aid to the user.
    • Ex: If a student tweets a complaint about the dryers in Hodo, Student Life could comment, “We’ve passed this concern along to the facilities manager. We’re sorry about the issue!” (Also, be sure to pass the complaint along).
  • Use tools to monitor when users are talking about you without tagging you.
    • Ex: If a student tweets that she is trying to decide between the HBU Business school and the UH Business school, the HBU Business Twitter account could comment, “We definitely want you here. Can we answer any more questions you have?”
    • Note: “HBU” is commonly used to mean “how ’bout you?” If you are listening on Twitter for the term “HBU,” you will encounter completely unrelated posts.

Videos

  • If you copy/paste a YouTube Video URL to Twitter, the link will appear in your tweet, but the video will not play within the Twitter stream. If you are trying to increase traffic to your YouTube Channel, this is a good option.
    • Simply Copy/Paste the video URL into your composed tweet.
  • To play in the Twitter stream, you must upload the video file to Twitter.

Tagging others

  • You may tag up to 10 other people in a post.
  • We encourage tagging when appropriate.
  • Do not spam-tag (tagging as many people as possible even when the post is not relevant to them).

Lists

  • Lists can be public or private and allow you to see only a handful of users’ tweets. For example, an HBU list may include HBU professors and staff, HBU students, HBU alumni, and other official HBU pages.
  • We encourage you to use lists for finding content to like and retweet.

Correcting Mistakes

  • You cannot edit a tweet. If a mistake is made, delete the tweet and post a corrected tweet.
  • If followers comment on the mistake, acknowledge the mistake, delete the tweet, and post a corrected tweet.
    • Ex: “Our previous tweet had a mistake. The tweet has since been deleted and posted again with the correct information.”

Analytics

Cross-posting

  • You may cross-post from Facebook to Twitter, but those cross-posts should not be your only tweets.
  • Do not cross-post from Instagram. The picture will not cross-over.

 

LinkedIn – Professional Networking

LinkedIn is a social networking platform for business professionals. Your voice should always be polished and professional. It is imperative that you know your LinkedIn audience and why you are posting. Organizations should only be on LinkedIn if they are planning to serve students and alumni or recruit professionals.

  • Do not create a LinkedIn profile for your organization. You must create a business page or group.
  • Your page should be linked to Houston Baptist University on LinkedIn as an Affiliated School.

About section

  • Include the basic information about your organization.
  • Specify that your page is an “official” page.
  • Link to your organization’s HBU.edu page.

Frequency of posts on Pages

  • Recommended: 4-5 posts per week
  • At minimum, 1 post per week.
  • At maximum, 7 posts per week.

Groups

  • All LinkedIn groups should have career-related goals.
  • Include a clearly stated purpose in the summary and description. If you can’t clearly state the purpose of the group, you may not need it.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation, but as with Facebook groups, sometimes silence on your part helps the group grow organically.
  • Do not spam your followers (only advertise and never interact). Spam is the top reason people leave groups.
  • Close announcements and answered questions within your group if they no longer require engagement. This action helps keep the most important conversations in the forefront.
  • Resource: LinkedIn Group Management Best Practices

Image sizes

Description

  • The first 140 characters are the most important. Use strong keywords that will engage your audience and accurately reflect your post.

Commenting/Liking/Sharing

  • Share responsibly.
  • Respond to people who comment and like posts on your page.
  • We recommend a small portion of your content be from others:
    • News stories or blogs
    • Followers’ posts
    • Highlights of students, alumni and friends

Editing Mistakes

  • You can edit posts on LinkedIn. Always edit mistakes.

Analytics

Cross-posting

  • We do not recommend direct cross-posting.
  • You can cross-post to LinkedIn from Twitter and vice versa. While cross-posting might increase your follower base across platforms, you should not cross-post every tweet to LinkedIn.

Resources

Ideas for posts on LinkedIn:

  • Highlight alumni from your organization. LinkedIn specifically encourages universities to highlight their alumni on the platform.
  • Celebrate school/department milestones.
  • Serve your job-seeking students by sharing resume, interview, and other work-related tips.

 

Snapchat

The average SnapChat user is 25 or younger. At this time, because of the prevalence and growth of Instagram Stories, as well as the risks associated with Snapchat, we do not recommend starting a new Snapchat account. However, if you already have an existing and successful account, please follow the guidelines outlined here.

Snapchat allows for more intimate and casual interactions than other social media platforms. While we encourage accessibility, the account should always reflect the mission of the University.

Account holder

  • All official HBU accounts should be held by official HBU phone numbers. You can create an account using a landline. If you currently operate an official account that is under a personal phone number, immediately change the account number.
  • Designate one person in your organization to run the account. Snapchat only allows one person to be logged into an account at a time.
    • If you do not have someone who can dedicate time to the account, including attending events and responding to messages, the account needs to be evaluated.

Frequency

  • Post to your story at least two times per week.

Content

  • Your stories should be student-oriented. For example, highlight on-campus events and make announcements.
  • Snapchat allows followers to see a more personal side of your department or organization. This is a great medium for engaging in humor and showing your personality to give viewers an “inside look.”
  • Takeover Tuesdays originated on this platform and can still potentially be beneficial. However, it is necessary to draft clear policies if privileges for an account are going to be delegated – even for a temporary time.
  • Students like filters! It’s okay and fun to use them.

Graphics

  • Images should reflect the mission and values of the University.
  • Story graphics do not need to adhere to the HBU brand standards for images.

Geofilters

  • If you would like to sponsor an official HBU geofilter, the filter must adhere to brand guidelines where applicable.
  • Geofilters are not expensive
  • Resource: Learn more about geofilters.

Incoming Messages

  • As always, be as responsive as possible. Reply to incoming messages within 24 hours.

Correcting mistakes

  • If a mistake is made in a story, delete the post.
  • If you can post a similar story with the corrected information, do so.

YouTube

People use YouTube in a variety of ways. They want to be educated and build their understanding; to discover something new and/or popular; and to find communities of support around shared interests and passions. Through YouTube, we can share the stories of HBU and build community. When posting to YouTube, consider the value of your content. Who will be looking for this video and why?

Channel Trailer

  • Use a high-quality video.
  • The trailer should be a reflection of your channel and let people know what kind of content to expect.

Frequency

  • Recommended: At least one video per week

Custom Subscribe Button

  • A custom subscribe button appears in the first or last few seconds of a video.
  • Add a custom subscribe watermark to your channel.

Effective Titles

  • Create titles that help people find your videos from the YouTube search bar. Characteristics of an effective title:
    • Easy to search
    • Strong keywords (utilize Google Trends)
    • Concise and descriptive; the title should tell exactly what the video contains.
      • Example: HBU College of Engineering Commissioning Ceremony

Thumbnail

  • Choose a thumbnail that reflects the content of the video
  • The thumbnail should pique interest and tell a story

Descriptions

Playlists

  • Create playlists of related videos to maximize the viewing of all videos.

Analytics

Resources

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is an image-driven platform. Very few HBU entities should have a Pinterest account.

Curating

  • Curated content is content you did not produce.
  • We recommend at least 80% of your content be curated.
  • Make sure any content re-pinned reflects the mission and values of the university – including, but not limited to, the image itself and all content of the linked page.

Image sizes

  • Tall images are recommended for this platform.
  • Resource: Canva and Adobe Spark both offer options for creating ideal-sized images.

Links

  • Include links to specific HBU.edu pages when appropriate.
  • Ensure all links are active and functioning properly when re-pinning images.

Boards

  • Name your boards appropriately.
  • Only create boards that will be of value to your target audience.

Editing Mistakes

  • You can edit anything you post. Always edit mistakes.
  • If a pin is accidentally placed on the wrong page, relocate the pin as soon as possible to keep organized boards.