GETTING STARTED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
CONSIDER THE OPTIONS CAREFULLY
Social media offers an incredibly effective way to engage others in Stony Brook’s mission to make a positive impact on our community, nation and world. By using social media in a smart and well-considered way, you have the opportunity to reach audiences and drive outcomes FAR BEYOND expectation. But building a social media presence takes significant time and commitment, and often the best way to promote your message is to make the most of what already exists successfully.
We currently have thousands of followers — many of whom are the audiences you want to reach. It is, therefore, critical to review Stony Brook’s current social channels before you choose to launch your own.
If after reviewing the existing channels, you decide that creating a new social media outlet is necessary and realistic for you to maintain, then read on.
UPHOLD THE BRAND
Before you do anything with or for Stony Brook social media, you must:
- Remember and embody what the Stony Brook FAR BEYOND brand represents: ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership. In every post you create, promote and distribute to the world, regardless of channel, keep this essence in mind and use it as a filter for both your content and its message.
- All posts must adhere to the University’s conduct code, our guiding principles of community and key employment notes. If you have any questions at all about these policies, contact the Communications and Marketing team for clarification.
UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media platforms — such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — are designed to facilitate real-time conversations. You cannot post an announcement or share an article and walk away. You build followers by posting compelling Stony Brook content and responding to questions, comments and insights. Done well, there’s a lot to gain.
Audience reach. As much as we might wish that people were hanging around our websites waiting for new information to appear, they aren’t. But many people are checking their favorite social channels frequently — often several times per day. By pushing content to one or more social networks, you’re increasing the chances that it will be seen and shared.
Real-time insights. You’ll know right away if a post is resonating with your audience. Are your followers sharing it, liking it, commenting? Be sure to respond promptly and thoughtfully to questions and comments that will build the engagement.
Rich experiences. Got a photo or video that would amplify your message? You can upload videos on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube within seconds. Built-in filters let you post creative, engaging images in seconds. Miss a typo? Quickly and simply edit your post.
KNOW THE CHANNELS
If you’ve decided to establish — or you’re taking over — a social media presence for Stony Brook, you don’t need to be on every channel, just the right ones. Ask yourself:
Whom am I trying to reach, and where do they spend their time?
What type of content (text, photos, videos) can we produce or access?
What type of content will engage my audience?
Each social network has its own distinct atmosphere and customs. Think about the audience makeup, activity cadence and existing trends to make the most of your efforts.
You or someone (or everyone) you know is on Facebook — it’s by far the most popular social site, allowing you to reach people from almost any demographic or place on the planet. Because data show that short posts with a call to action get the most attention, consider highlighting a FAR BEYOND student achievement, sharing important news or promoting a campus event. Here, it’s best to post only once or twice per day.
Twitter is fast moving, so you should post frequently — at least 3 to 5 times per day. You need to have the time and bandwidth for this frequency. Twitter is best used to engage in conversations, respond to students’ concerns, share live events, and re-tweet (share) content from Stony Brook’s community.
Instagram is most popular among younger audiences and is the most visual of the top networks. Original imagery — photos, videos and other graphics — that build on existing trends works well here (for example, #TBT for Throwback Thursday), but it is also critical to keep the account relevant with images of recent work, activities, new team members, etc. Similarly, pay attention to what’s trending, and if you have an image of something that relates, then join the conversation and use hashtags appropriately. In every case, though, the spirit of FAR BEYOND should be present in some way; this is not a personal account.
While these are the main social channels to consider, they are not the only options. If you decide to use another social platform, please study its demographics, patterns and style carefully before launching there. Strategy for one channel does not necessarily translate easily or appropriately to another.
- Identify your target audience and research their behaviors. Know where and when they follow social networks and how they engage with organizations or brands.
- Review Stony Brook’s personality, and think about how it should sound in a social channel context. Write a few sample posts and ask your team members for feedback — especially those who regularly engage with social media.
- What does success look like? Clearly state your objectives, both long-term (increase applications, for example) and short-term (increase open-house attendance). Set evaluation points to determine what is and isn’t working, and refine your plan accordingly.
- Document and share team roles and responsibilities to make sure everyone is aware of his or her duties. Account for things such as vacations and sick days so that your social media presence doesn’t suffer when one person is away.
- Pull everything together in a social media plan that describes your audience, channels, objectives and responsible team member. Review the Editorial Calendar recommendations for putting the plan to work.
WRITING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
Social networks are conversation platforms — not one-way media — that can help you build a more engaged community. While some of your social efforts connect students to the school — news updates, event announcements, University stories — others connect students to students, and that’s where community happens.
When developing community, start small and experiment. Try something with a short timeline and small amount of effort, like the example below.
Sample Engagement Initiative
Let’s say your goal is to build engagement with prospective students. They’re considering attending Stony Brook but still are not sure. They need to picture themselves fitting in with other students. To connect prospects with current students, you plan an initiative that asks freshmen to share a picture of what it’s like to be a student at Stony Brook.
You’ve done the research, so you know where your audience is. Instagram is a good social channel to share photos with this demographic. Both prospects and students will easily share and find the photos using hashtag #firstyearSBU.
Promote and engage with participants for one week, monitoring the comments and questions to serve your audience. Then pull together the content to highlight on your website, on Facebook and on other appropriate channels.
What’s the outcome? You’ve put together an easy, fun way for students to share their experiences, connecting freshmen-to-freshmen and freshmen-to-prospects with authentic examples of life at Stony Brook.
WRITING FOR ENGAGEMENT
Choosing the right words can encourage the right kind of feedback, so it’s important to be deliberate when communicating on social media.
- Establish community guidelines. Make it clear why the account exists, whom it serves and what you hope to share and enjoy together. Encourage tolerance and be transparent about the rules. With this set up, you are not only laying the groundwork for more positive interactions, but also establishing something to point to when the engagement takes a wrong turn.
- Guide the feedback you’re looking for. If you’re asking your community for specific ideas, feedback or suggestions, give
them options to choose from or set up a simple form to fill out. This opportunity
saves everyone time and decreases the chance that non-relevant conversations will
- Example: Which new ice cream flavor would you like to see in the dining hall?
- A. Chocolate mint chip B. Vanilla fudge C. Banana nut
- Set clear expectations. Some content will be purely informational and not written for engagement. For example, you want students to know that the financial aid office is closing early; however, you cannot answer financial aid questions. Be explicit. Tell them where and how to reach the right people.
CONTENT RULES & TOOLS
Follow the copy rules:
Your content’s structure is more important on Facebook than its length. Short posts that are purely informational don’t require a call to action. But if you’re looking for engagement, be sure to communicate your call to action early. Remember, text is restricted to 400 characters and then users are asked to click “See more” to continue. So if you wait until the end to ask for feedback, you may not get any.
Keep tweets to 120 characters or fewer, so your followers can easily re-tweet (share) without editing the original message. Use URL shorteners when sharing links to maximize your text options.
Write short, engaging descriptions and use hashtags for context. Keep hashtags to a minimum — three per post, maximum — and be sure you fully understand what drives an existing trend before co-opting its hashtag.
SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES AND TOOLS
On social media, you become the voice of Stony Brook. Share stories that illustrate how we are going FAR BEYOND. Your voice and tone should reflect our spirit: big, bold, strong and driven. Be proud and confident but not boastful. Be transparent and avoid hype. Demonstrate curiosity and hands-on learning experiences that are uniquely possible at Stony Brook.
Use our Stony Brook conversational, friendly tone, as if you were talking directly to your audience (because you are!). Own your posts, and be transparent about your role at the University. Admit when you make mistakes, and correct inaccurate information immediately.
Think carefully before you post. Be mindful of how your behavior, words and images may be perceived by people from all walks of life and corners of the globe.
Make sure your social media account credentials (user names, passwords) are shared by at least two people in case one team member is unreachable.
BE STONY BROOK
Follow Stony Brook’s brand personality and voice and tone, as well as all visual guidelines. This is not a suggestion; it’s a mandate.
MAKING THE MOST OF THESE TOOLS
Editorial calendars are a planning tool to help you carry out and deliver on your strategy. There are no hard-and-fast rules on what these calendars look like; what’s important is to figure out what will work for your particular team and strategy.
- What is being planned? Describe the audience and content. Will you use original content, story from another source, photo or video?
- Who is responsible for preparing and posting?
- Why are we posting this? How will it support our strategy?
- Where will this be posted? Just Instagram? Instagram and Facebook? Is it shared from one channel to another, or are they each a unique post?
- When will this be posted? Monday morning or Friday afternoon? Consider your objectives and audience to determine the best time of day.
- Who will monitor and respond to community feedback?
- Who will review performance?
If you’re running a lightweight social media account, with only a few administrators, channels and low cadence, the social media platform probably provides all the management tools you’ll need. However, for more complicated social media plans, you’ll likely need a third-party application, such as Buffer or Hootsuite. Check with other University departments; you may find that another team already has a tool in place that you can share.
These third-party applications can help your team manage these activities:
- Sharing content across multiple accounts
- Scheduling content to be automatically posted (useful for planned campuswide news)
- Delaying posts to be published when you’re out of the office (write on Friday, publish Sunday evening)
- Tracking performance. Many third-party applications offer a “dashboard” view of your account activity, making it easier to assess your efforts
- Identifying trends and following and engaging in your community’s conversations
IMAGES, PHOTOS & VIDEO GUIDELINES
851 x 315 pixels. If your image is smaller than this, it will look stretched.
180 x 180 pixels
The image will be scaled down to 32 x 32 pixels when you interact with others (comments, posts, likes)
When posting original content to the timeline, upload at 1200 x 630 pixels to ensure high-quality rendering.
Account homepage header photo
1500 x 500 pixels
Maximum file size is 5MB, and the recommended formats are JPG, GIF or PNG
400 x 400 pixels (square image)
Maximum file size is 2 MB, and the recommended formats are JPG, GIF or PNG
In-stream photos (those you share with followers)
506 x 253 pixels
Maximum file size is 5MB, 3MB for animated gifs
110 x 110 pixels (square, 1:1 ratio)
When photos are taken using the app, the size is automatically set to 1080 x 1080 pixels, but you now have options to present your images with a landscape or narrow portrait framing. Just be aware that if you don’t go with the square format, you will have black bands on either side or above and below.
Channel cover photo
2560 x 1440 pixels will allow for your image to appear high quality no matter the device used.
1280 x 720 pixels
Videos must have a 16:9 aspect ratio.
REQUEST A SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT
Submit the following form to request an approved Stony Brook University social media account.