Before you post to your social channels, be sure to follow this checklist to optimize your content and make it soar!
#1. Does this content promote UB and move the university forward?
As communicators speaking on behalf of the university, we have an obligation to make sure that all content published from UB social media accounts reflects our institutional values and moves the university forward.
Be sure that your content is accurate, on-topic and ties back to your account’s social media strategy.
Not sure if your content reflects your account strategy? Use your bio/about section as a litmus test. Make sure everything you publish from your page ties back to that mission statement.
#2. Is this content right for my audience and provide value?
When positioning content, always think about the audience. Consider:
- Who are you trying to reach with this content? You may have several target audiences you are trying to reach across your social media accounts. Consider which channel(s) would be the best social platform(s) or format to deliver the message and make sure you craft your content with that audience, and channel best practices, in mind.
- What’s in it for them? What are they going to get out of reading this? If we want our audience to engage with our content, we have to provide value or position it in a way that is meaningful and will resonate with them.
- Would YOU want to click on this content? Does this content make you feel excited, proud or want to learn more?
- Is the content inclusive and does it accurately reflect our community? We want to make sure that our diverse university population is represented in an authentic way. Step back and look at your content from the week and consider whether or not the language, the people and the photos you are featuring reflect an inclusive community that is a reasonable representation of your unit and/or our community as a whole.
#3. Is the copy socialized?
Keep these tips in mind when writing content for social media:
- Leverage UB and topical hashtags: Be sure to use #UBuffalo on ALL social media content to reach the UB community and leverage other university, campaign or unit hashtags, as appropriate. To reach others outside of UB, use topical hashtags that correspond with your content.
> Detailed Hashtag Guidance
- Hone in on the benefits: To help your content resonate with your audiences, don't focus on what UB did. Instead, focus on how the outcomes of UB's efforts, research and community collaborations benefit our audiences and/or impact their daily lives. For example:
- DON'T: #UBuffalo researchers have received a $4.5M grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
- DO: To improve plastic #recycling and reduce waste, #UBuffalo has received a $4.5 million grant for a new research center.
- Frontload your copy: We need to capture our audience’s attention fast or they may scroll past our content. Try to put the most compelling information first.
- Avoid PR talk: We don’t want to sound like a press release. How can we create more of a connection for our audience and make it relatable, fun or engaging?
- Handle with care: Although we don’t want to sound like a press release, we also don’t want to be insensitive when it comes to serious topics. Content that touches on an individual’s health or beliefs, especially, should be treated delicately and positioned in a way that provokes empathy or discussion.
- Think local: We love our city. We can make many stories appealing to the WNY audience by positioning our content to show how it impacts the local community.
- Establish credibility for your source if they aren’t a household name.
- For example, the audience may not care that an alum is offering career advice, but they will if we note that the alum is a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
- In many cases, it isn’t necessary to include full names unless the ‘source’ is a household name. Instead, focus on the relationship the individual has with the university.
- For example, use ‘this #UBuffalo alum’ or ‘this #UBuffalo professor’ and include context (e.g. a #UBuffalo psychology expert).
- Emojify! Emojis can be used to enhance your copy and convey pride, emotion or even break up blocks of text. Just be sure to follow emoji best practices to avoid accidentally publishing something inappropriate or inaccessible.
- Tip: Don't forget to showcase diversity through the use of emojis. Instead of using the default shade in your keyboard when utilizing ‘people’ emojis, use every shade that is offered as you engage and post your content!
- Start a conversation: Is there an opportunity to build engagement into the content? How can we encourage our community to join the conversation?
- Be intentional with language: Carefully consider the language in your content and imagine how others could interpret or be impacted by what you’re saying. If you’re not sure how your content will affect others, speak with people of different backgrounds, abilities or experiences. And always refer to UB’s style guide to ensure you’re using the most inclusive language.
> Social Media Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion Best Practices
#4. Are the visuals strong, engaging and inclusive?
Considerations to keep in mind when selecting or creating visuals for your content:
- Does the visual help you tell the story? Visuals should complement the copy and help capture your audience’s attention. Try to select visuals that add to the narrative or provide context for your copy and draw your audience in.
- Sharing a link from a UBCMS page? Include a social image to optimize performance.
- Creating a video? Refer to our best practices for tips to optimize your content.
- Have you taken anti-racism, equity and inclusion best practices into consideration?
- Consider context: Be mindful of what the images may be inadvertently communicating. These images can either contribute to or combat harmful stereotypes and affect the reputation of the university.
- Avoid appropriation: While the intention behind using an aspect of a culture may be admiration, if done without respect or awareness, appropriation may perpetuate stereotypes or exploit groups of people.
- Put historical content into context: Using archival footage or photos can be challenging when trying to balance inclusivity as some materials reflect a time when UB was less diverse. When deciding to use historical content, such as photos, ask yourself what message you are sending by publishing it.
> How to put historical content into context
- Don’t misrepresent content: Avoid utilizing photos that do not correlate to the content. Images of students and employees should not be used to promote units or departments with which they are not affiliated. It may not always be possible to know for certain if you are featuring individuals who are from your unit, but when utilizing shared image repositories like SmugMug, look for context in the photo tags or descriptions to help eliminate misrepresentation.
- Don’t overuse content: Additionally, try not to overuse photos on your pages because they convey diversity. It’s acceptable to use the same photo more than once, but if that image is used repeatedly over time, it can have the reverse effect and instead convey a lack of diversity to your audience.
#5. What is the current climate in social media?
As content creators, we need to be attuned to what is happening in the world in order to avoid unintended insensitivity. Before you post, think carefully about how this content will be received by the community and be prepared to respond, should issues arise:
- Get another perspective: If you are posting content that you think may be contentious or attract attention because of the subject matter, ask your supervisor or senior communicator for their feedback before posting. Getting multiple perspectives may help identify issues you haven’t considered.
- Timing is everything: If the content or subject matter you are posting is a hot-button issue, think about delaying the post to avoid eliciting an unintended or disproportionately negative response.
- For example, posting a photo of students playing in the snow during a major snowstorm when accidents and injuries are being reported could make your post a magnet for criticism. However, delaying the post for a few days when the conditions are safer could help ensure that your post is received positively.
- Consider your hashtags: If you decide to use topical or trending hashtags, make sure you:
- Are prepared to be part of the conversation and have a response plan.
- Understand their meaning. Find out what the source is to be sure you are part of the right conversation, as intended.
> Detailed Hashtag Guidance
#6. Does this meet accessibility best practices?
To truly be inclusive, social media practitioners must follow accessibility best practices to ensure that all content is available for as many people as possible.
While we cannot control what accessibility features are on each social media platform, we can leverage the existing features to optimize our content, by following these best practices.
> Accessibility Best Practices