UNCG has hundreds of social media accounts operated by various offices and programs on campus. These accounts, like other forms of external and internal communications, should follow the University’s brand guide. However, social media platforms carry their own writing conventions and considerations that are not specifically addressed in those guidelines.
This document offers best practices for managing your channels and writing effective, engaging social media copy while aligning with the university’s voice and message. See this as a starting point and adjust based on engagement metrics and audience feedback.
Voice & Tone
Excellence: Our writing is professional, purposeful, concise, and clear. Social media posts should follow campus editorial guidelines and AP style, except where character limits and readability present an obstacle. We use active verbs, and avoid cliches and institutional jargon. We check our spelling and grammar before posting.
Opportunity: We’re positive and supportive in our communications. We share information that fosters connection and pride, and enhances the academic, social, and professional experience of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Impact: We write to demonstrate the local and global impacts of our academics, research, and community engagements. We answer the question: “Why does this matter, and to who?” in our posts. We include calls-to-action that prompt readers and viewers to engage at a deeper level.
Every post should be written with a specific audience in mind. Posts should generally include the following:
- A strong lead that sparks curiosity and engages specific audiences.
- Spacing between sentences, as appropriate, to increase readability.
- A call-to-action (i.e. visit a site, complete a form, share a picture, use a hashtag, etc.)
- An optimized story headline and image for link previews on owned content. Remove the URL if the link preview displays. (Consult your department’s web manager or ITS specialist to optimize the text and image metadata imported into social media platforms.)
- Account mentions and hashtags (see below).
- A strong visual (see below.)
- Emojis, if appropriate (see below).
- Video post tags, if applicable.
- Alt text and image descriptions, if possible.
Examples of strongly written messages:
General style guidelines
Account mentions: We encourage tagging relevant handles in our posts, as long as those accounts are active and don’t include offensive or controversial material in recent posts. If tags would disrupt the flow or clarity of a message, add them at the end.
Hashtags: One to three hashtags are typically appropriate for each post. In some cases, additional hashtags might be called for on Instagram, but move them to the comment section. Hashtags should not disrupt the flow or clarity of a message. For accessibility purposes, it is preferable to use CamelCase with multiple-word hashtags, when possible. Examples: #PeaceAndConflictStudies, #WomenInSTEM. Note: This doesn’t apply to brand hashtags like #letsgoG, and it doesn’t work well for hashtags that contain acronyms.
Emojis: Use these sparingly (i.e. one to three per message) to save space and add emotional emphasis, especially on celebratory or “spirit” posts. Note that emojis may disrupt the flow of a message for people using screen readers. Thus, emoji use should be purposeful and generally follow the most important information in a message, such as calls to action. Use the standard yellow, or cycle through different skin tones for hand/face emojis to reflect the diversity of your audience.
Example of overkill:
Pop Up Shop hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, through Dec. 21: 👉[link]
Example of optimal use
Pop Up Shop hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, through Dec. 21:[link]
🎁 #UNCGWay #DGSO
Gif/stickers: Use branded gifs/stickers on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to add emotional or atmospheric emphasis to a post. Use of non-branded gifs/memes is acceptable on a case-by-case basis.
Images: Use high-resolution images, preferably shot on a DSLR camera. Add light edits to photos taken on a cell phone. Graphics should be designed and sized for social media channels, not repurposed from print fliers. Additional guidelines for avatars, cover images, and social media graphics can be accessed here.
Exclamation points: Use sparingly to signal excitement.
Hyperlinks: These should be preceded by a colon and space. Pointing fingers, arrows, or news or hyperlink emojis should be used sparingly.
Network specific guidelines
Cadence: Posting at least a couple times a week is ideal.
Best practices: All posts should include optimized link previews, strong visuals, and relevant tags. Fill out all relevant fields on video uploads; add captions and a strong thumbnail.
Engagement style: Provide timely responses to questions and feedback sent through your inbox. Offer appropriate reactions and responses to comments on your posts and to your wall. Monitor and respond to recommendations on your page. At your discretion, hide spam (i.e. unsolicited commercial advertising, phishing attempts, conspiracy theories unrelated to the topic, and religious proselytizing). Read more about removing content in our Social Media Standards.
Cadence: Posting at least a couple times a week is ideal for encouraging page growth and engagement. For event coverage, four to 10 Instagram story segments is ideal. Otherwise, go with what makes sense and maintains engagement levels.
Best practices: Strong, engaging visuals, with subjects engaging the camera whenever possible. Captions with good color contrast need to be added to Instagram story segments. Photo/video composition should reflect the diversity of the institution in terms of ethnicity, gender, etc. Uploaded videos should include burned-in captions, or a link to a captioned version. Text-heavy graphics should be reserved for stories or secondary positions in feed carousels, but consult engagement data for confirmation. Use image filters sparingly. Update highlights regularly. Choose strong and appropriately-sized thumbnails for highlights and videos, including IGTV. Thumbnails may display as a “black box” on the feed if one is not chosen by the user.
Engagement style: Like and comment on UNCG-related posts. Respond to commenters, as appropriate. Repost account-tagged content in your stories. Ask permission to repost to your feed and give credit.
Cadence: At least one or two posts a week is ideal.
Best practices: LinkedIn supports hashtags; add one or two at the end of posts. Tag relevant accounts in the message. Videos should be uploaded to the platform and include a thumbnail and title.
Engagement style: Like and respond to comments.
Cadence: Daily is ideal.
Best practices: Because of Twitter’s character limits, abbreviations are acceptable as long as your approach is consistent and the meaning is clear. For example, Dec. 5 instead of December 5. Most tweets should have accompanying images. Recommended image size and aspect ratio are 1200X675 and 16:9, respectively. Recommended video orientations for mobile and desktop are 1280×720 (landscape), 720×1280 (portrait), and 720×720 (square). Utilize Twitter Media Studio to add captions, video description, and relevant call-to-action link.
Engagement style: Favorite, retweet, and reply to posts, especially those that mention your account or include your hashtags. Respond in a timely fashion to legitimate questions, requests, and feedback. When possible, responses to complaints should be moved to direct messages or email.
Best practices: Titles, descriptions, and tags should support SEO. (University Communications includes “UNCG,” and “UNC Greensboro” in every video.) Upload a visually strong thumbnail, when possible. Add to appropriate playlists. Include relevant hyperlinks in the description, and end screens or cards if possible.
Engagement style: Periodically review, “like” and respond to positive comments. Answer viewer questions, as appropriate. Disable comments for videos of a sensitive or controversial nature.
Regularly used hashtags can be found here. Some of them include:
- For the University’s brand: #UNCGWay
- For COVID-19/Shield Our Spartans: #SpartansTogether
- For Commencement: #UNCGgrad
- For the University’s Believe in the G campaign: #BelieveInTheG
- For Athletics and spirit: #letsgoG
- For Homecoming: #UNCGhome
- For alumni-related posts: #UNCGalumni
- For University research: #UNCGresearch