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Facebook Editorial Guide

For now, Facebook serves as the dominant social media platform for Albion College’s communication efforts. Communication efforts are spread out over several pages and groups -- including the main Albion page, the alumni and athletic pages, and various alumni chapters, student groups, and academic departments -- but in Marketing and Communications, we use Facebook as a way to easily and effectively reach the widest audience.

We consider Facebook, especially the main College page, as a snapshot of campus life: events, academic efforts, student and faculty achievement, news and announcements, athletic honors, College milestones, etc.

Our main audience includes the campus community: students, staff, faculty, coaches. With that (about half) is a large audience of alumni and parents. But the number of prospective students “Liking” Albion’s page is growing, making up almost 10% of our audience -- and even with a now-abandoned Admission Office page, most prospective students found out about Albion through the main College page.

Marketing and Communications maintains the following pages on Facebook:

We also service the Class of 20XX groups, to help engage incoming first-year students, help with the Alumni Chapter pages, and assist with the Parent Engagement group.

Types of Posts

Page posts can fit into the following categories:

  • Photos: individual photos that tell a (short) story, usually with a link to the albion.edu page with more information.
  • Articles: taking links on stories or events and sharing them. These should include photos with the article whenever possible. And the shorter, the better (think “headline,” not “snippet from article” -- and include the link).
  • Polls: simple Q and A voting polls the drive engagement and seek opinions.
  • Page Promotions: often these promote other College-based Facebook pages, with a link to that page so that fans can “Like” it.
  • Photo Galleries: the most popular Page posts we make, by far. Photo galleries reach the most people and often foster the most engagement, especially when fans tag themselves or people they know in photos.
  • Videos: sharing YouTube or Vimeo URLs allows fans to watch the video in their Facebook feed.

There are also Promoted Posts: any of the above posts that receive an extra boost in audience attention as paid advertisements. The College promotes posts when it serves our business needs, such as alumni events or giving-based posts.

Scheduling Posts

While there is no set day or time for types of posts, we do stick to a few rough guidelines -- especially when we need to attract a certain audience:

  • Photo Fridays: often a single photo or photo gallery that promotes an event or milestone at the College. Easy, breezy, and good for sharing.
  • Timing: To reach an older audience, such as alumni, posting before lunch (11:40 a.m., usually) results in better reach and engagement. To reach college and high school students, posting in the evening (8:30-9:30) is best. On the weekends, posting early (8:00 a.m.) or late on Sundays (9:10 p.m.) results in the best engagement.
  • Frequency: For the most part, the College should post from the main Facebook page at least once a day -- and sometimes, if there is something like an event taking place on campus, twice. But they should always be spaced several hours apart. During holiday weeks, when most people are on vacation or away from their computers, posting less often is fine. For smaller audiences, like the alumni page, posting a few times a week is fine.
  • Scheduling Posts: Facebook allows page administrators to schedule posts ahead of time. This is convenient for late-night and weekend posts, as the admin does not need to be on Facebook to make the post. However, some degree of follow up is good to make sure the audience is engaging with the post, and to mitigate spam and abusive comments.

Scheduling posts also allows page admins to “set it and forget it”: taking promotions and putting them on the posting calendar well in advance. It’s best to keep track of these kinds of posts so that multiple posts don’t appear within the same time period.

Photos

Photos are the best way to engage with a page’s Facebook audience, especially when members of the audience are in the pictures. Even mostly text updates should be made via photos: we include the descriptive text and links within the caption. The visual nature of photos helps our content get noticed.

Students and alumni especially love photo galleries. Events, meetings, portraits, classes, field trips -- these types of photo galleries help us engage with our audience. As such, we encourage the audience to tag themselves and their friends for extra reach. When others tag the page’s photos, they are seen by the tagged person, as well as their friends and relatives, helping photo galleries take on a viral nature.

A few best practices on photo galleries:

  • Unflattering photos are the opposite of positive engagement. People don’t appreciate these photos in a gallery, so we try to avoid them. Especially people eating meals and embarrassing facial expressions.
  • The more photos the merrier, but even smaller galleries are a good way to document our audience’s activities.
  • We use the gallery description to caption the event or happening for historical purposes. We also try to include a link back to the appropriate albion.edu page so viewers can learn more about what’s happening in the gallery.
  • Because we can’t assume just the Albion audience is viewing the photos, we try to include a caption with each photo when possible for context.
  • As we post photo galleries, we direct audience traffic outside of Facebook to view the photos on our Facebook page. This helps send more traffic to the page, and often results in a few “Likes” along the way.

Cover Photos

Facebook’s Cover Photo feature is a good opportunity for the College to showcase its brand: campus beauty shots, student activities, and chances for students to participate in creative projects.

The photo should be changed in preparation for big campus events (Homecoming, Commencement, etc.) and seasons changing -- at least monthly, to keep it fresh.

Responding to Messages and Posts

It’s best to approach Facebook page comments, questions, and messages with a customer service attitude. We try to respond within 24 hours or less when possible. The important thing is to respond.

When appropriate, we share the link to the comment so that campus departments can respond if it affects them (Admission for admission-related questions, for instance).

We treat comments as a way to easily engage with our audience that is engaged with us. “Liking” a good or funny comment is an easy way to respond. Asking follow-up questions keeps the conversation going.

Other Pages Posting

For the most part, few people look at others’ posts on the College’s Facebook page.

That being said, some individual and page posts on the Albion page merit a response, either positive or punitive.

We see it this way:

  • If an individual or non-College related page posts something that promotes their business, school, or program, we delete is off the page.
  • If the post relates to something concerning the College community -- such as a department, organization, team, faculty member, etc. -- it stays.
  • If the post is worth sharing with the College community, our page will reshare the post through the main College page feed.
  • For Albion-related or alumni-owned business or cause posts, we take them on a case by case basis. For all of them, we ask: is this appropriate for the wider Albion audience?

Negative and Abusive Posts

How do we determine whether to delete or report negative and abusive comments on Facebook?

  • It Stays If: It’s critical of the college, critical of policies, teasing, sarcastic, trollish, etc.
  • It Goes If: It’s libelous, abusive, racist, sexist, or any of the below categories.
  • It Gets Reported to Campus Safety If: It’s threatening, it’s abusive to students or staff, it displays potential self-harm, it promotes or displays destruction of campus property.

Advertising and Promoting Posts

Facebook allows page admins to “promote” posts -- use paid advertising dollars to increase the reach of the post. The more we pay, the bigger the audience.

We use promoted posts for several occasions:

  • If the event is deserving of a large audience: Homecoming, Commencement, etc.
  • If the post is giving-focused and directs the College community to donate.
  • If the post is uniquely Albion and we want it to be seen and shared by a large audience.
  • If the post is Admission-based and promotes a visit day or deadline.

Advertising for more page “Likes” helps increase our audience, as well, and we may use promoted posts to attract more fans.

Key Takeaways for Albion’s Facebook Presence

  1. Facebook reaches the largest, most diverse audience, and is still tops in social media platforms.
  2. Photos are the most effective posts, but there are smart ways to use them -- such as including links in the caption.
  3. Scheduling posts ahead of time helps to reach our audience at times when they are active on Facebook.
  4. We tend to be permissive when it comes to others posting on the page, but we will consider each comment and post on the basis of its usefulness to the campus community.
  5. Promoted posts are a good, cost-effective way to reach a larger audience with content.

Visit Albion's Social Media Listing

Twitter Editorial Guide

More and more users are joining Twitter, especially teenage prospective students. Albion College uses Twitter as a direct engagement channel, responding to and retweeting student and campus organization tweets.

Twitter also serves as the campus newsfeed, with posts providing periodic updates throughout the day. Because Twitter serves as a stream of information, more posts are better -- but not successive, one-after-the-other posts.

As a channel, Twitter skews to prospective students, current students, and recent graduates. Therefore, we keep the College’s voice on Twitter more casual and fun.

Retweets

Retweeting is an effective engagement tool on Twitter. Students, and especially prospective students, enjoy being retweeted by the College’s account.

Specifically, on Twitter we tend to:

  • Retweet prospective students who announce that they are attending / have chosen Albion (usually with a comment like, “Great to have you!”)
  • Retweet athletic successes from @gobrits or individual team sports, using the hashtag #gobrits!
  • Retweet student and alumni photos or comments that show campus in a positive light
  • Retweet random or funny student comments as a part of our “Random tweet of the week” feature

Following

Typically, the College follows students who have interesting things to say on Twitter. If they are usually negative or crude, we will not follow them. We also follow prospective students who have committed to come to Albion.

Campus organizations, other colleges in our athletic conference or the GLCA, individual athletic teams, employees of the college, and alumni are also good targets for following on Twitter.

The College also keeps tabs on emerging trends (like #albionproblems) and College-based fake accounts (like @albionpartystories).

Posting Philosophy

As of now, the College uses SproutSocial as its Twitter management platform. SproutSocial allows us to schedule tweets in advance, keep updated on new followers, and develop monthly reports for Twitter activity.

Because we are able to schedule tweets in advance, we can think weeks or months in advance about upcoming college events, promotions, or initiatives. Because of the constant flow of information on Twitter, we can also post more than once about promotions or events.

Also, some general strategy points include:

  • Space tweets out at least an hour or so. Retweets can occur in between.
  • Post prospective-student tweets after 3 p.m. (when they get out of school). The later (8-10 p.m.) the better
  • Wednesdays feature posts about the value of a liberal arts education, usually from third party links/articles.
  • Random tweet of the week: Thursday afternoons.
  • Using Instagram to post to Twitter allows us to (a) have a photo to show and (b) doubles our efforts.
  • Typically, we tend to send more traffic to the Albion College website when providing links, but often -- say, if an alumnus/alumna appears in a news article -- we’ll post to third party sites where appropriate.
  • Use Twitter’s “favorite” tool to archive important, useful, or positive tweets -- especially if they will be used for tweets in the future.
  • When students ask questions on Twitter, research the answer and get back to them. Use Twitter like a service phone line. Ignore insulting or complaining tweets (and there are a few).

Reporting Tweets

If a student tweets a concerning comments, such as abuse, suicide, or criminal acts, Marketing/Communications will take a screenshot of the tweet, along with a URL to the tweet, and send the link to the College’s Campus Safety department and Student Affairs leadership.

Key Takeaways From Albion's Twitter Presence

  1. Twitter has a younger audience; therefore, we can be more fun and engaging on the site
  2. Retweeting is one of the best forms of engagement
  3. We follow obvious tweeters, like students and campus organizations, and those who have a connection with the College or higher ed
  4. We use strategic posts to advance the College’s communications initiatives

View Albion-related Twitter accounts on our Social Media Listing