Social Media Style Guide

Social Media Style Guide

We use social media to build relationships with Green River College students, prospective students, community members, faculty and staff and share all the cool stuff we do. But it also creates opportunities to say the wrong thing, put off potential students, and damage our brand. So we’re careful and deliberate in what we post to our social channels. This section lays out how we strike that delicate balance.

Basics

Green River College has a presence on most major social media platforms. Here are our most active accounts and what we usually post on each:

  • Twitter: College news, college/program marketing, events, media mentions, evergreen content, “we’re hiring!” posts, important student dates, emergency communications
  • Facebook: College news, college/program marketing, events, media mentions, evergreen content, “we’re hiring!” posts, important student dates, emergency communications
  • LinkedIn: Recruiting content, media mentions, evergreen content
  • Instagram: College/program marketing, shots of campus and students, events, evergreen content

These channels are managed by College Relations. There are a few division-specific accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, Dribbble, Facebook, WordPress and other platforms. The guidelines in this section apply to all social media channels used by members of Green River College.

Guidelines

Our writing for social media should generally follow the style points outlined in the voice and tone and the grammar and mechanics sections. Here are some additional pointers, too.

Account Names

  • Place the name of the College before department or program name, when characters are limited using the abbreviation GRC is appropriate. For example, Green River College News or GRCNews rather than NewsatGRC.
  • Avoid punctuation such as periods and underscores (_) when naming the account.

Social Media Voice

Who we are:

  • Fun. Witty. Engaged. We value education and revel in belonging to an intellectual community/
  • We believe in looking beyond ourselves and thinking globally. Our next great accomplishment could be right around the corner.
  • We don’t know what it means to quit.

Our tone: 

We are energetic and enthusiastic. We believe in what we do and accept when we make a mistake. We love to converse and enjoy asking questions. We’re optimistic but realistic. We tell the truth.

Ownership of Posts

All messages on all central media platforms are posted in the character voice described above.

Don’t attach names or initials to posts.

Positivity and Transparency

We present our messages with a positive attitude but are honest and transparent in the information we share.

Write short, but smart

Some social media platforms have a character limit; others don’t. But for the most part, we keep our social media copy short.

  • Twitter: 280 characters or less (this leaves room for a manual retweet and comments)
  • Facebook: No limit, but desktop newsfeed only display 500 characters, mobile 110 characters, right column ad 90 characters.
  • Instagram: 2,200 characters, but try to keep it to 1 sentence or a short phrase. Feel free to throw in an emoji.

To write short, simplify your ideas or reduce the amount of information you’re sharing—but not by altering the spelling or punctuation of the words themselves. It’s fine to use the shorter version of some words, like “info” for “information.” But do not use numbers and letters in place of words, like “4” instead of “for” or “u” instead of “you.”

Engagement

Do your best to adhere to Green River College style guidelines when you’re using our social media channels to correspond with users. Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation—and avoid excessive exclamation points.

When appropriate, you can tag the subject of your post on Twitter or Facebook. But avoid directly tweeting at or otherwise publicly tagging a post subject with messages like, “Hey, we wrote about you!” Never ask for retweets, likes, or favorites.

  • Yes: “We talked with @chitrasolomon about turning her awesome emails into a book. http://news.greenriver.com/how-chitras-emails-got-her-a-book-deal”
  • No: “Hey @chitrasolomon, can you RT this post we wrote about you? http://news.greenriver.com/how-chitras-emails-got-her-a-book-deal”

Direct MessagingDirect messaging users is fine, but treat this the same you would as if it were a regular work-related email. Be polite, use full sentences and include a signature that includes your name and Green River email.

Hashtags

We employ hashtags deliberately. We may use them to promote an event or connect with users at a conference. Do not use current event or trending hashtags to promote Green River College. 

Our most commonly used hashtags include:

Twitter

  • #GreenRiverCollege
  • #GoGators
  • #WeAreGators
  • #WhyWait

Facebook

  • #GreenRiverCollege
  • #GoGators
  • #WeAreGators
  • #WhyWait

Instagram

  • #GreenRiverCollege
  • #GoGators
  • #WeAreGators
  • #WhyWait

LinkedIn

  • #GRCJobs
  • #WeAreGators
  • #WhyWait

Trending topics

Do not use social media to comment on trending topics, current events, or political views that are unrelated to Green River College.
Be aware of what is going on in the news when you're publishing social content for GRC. During major breaking news events, we turn off all promoted and scheduled social posts.

Active Accounts

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
    • HR Page
    • College Page

Notes on Grammar Punctuation

Dates and Times

For times, use am and pm (lowercase, no periods). 3 p.m., 10 a.m..

Use “to” between times (2 p.m. to 4p.m.) unless space is needed. Then use a dash. (2-4 p.m.).
Write out full words for days of the week (Monday, Tuesday) and use dates (5/19) to save space or reference dates in advance. Months can also be abbreviated (Jan., Feb.) for space.

Using links

Colons

Use a colon and a space before a link.

  • Wow! 12 easy ways to pay for college: http://tiny.grc/1uT1avy
Exclamation Point

An exclamation point or question mark (followed by a single space) can also introduce a link:

  • What they didn't tell you when you dreamt of being an astronaut: Space travel could give you poor eyesight! http://tiny.grc/17qlJoT
  • Which #GRC dean is addicted to yard sales (& isn't beneath picking through curbside castoffs)? http://tiny.grc/1pK5Ox0

Use a single exclamation point to signal excitement.

In VERY RARE instances (major celebrity appearances, top awards, international recognition, etc.) multiple exclamation points may be used (but think judiciously about whether the situation warrants more than one).

Ellipses

Use an ellipsis (three periods, no spaces) to show where something has been omitted (as in a quote that’s been shortened) OR (in rare instances) to signal suspense.

  • Toxic sludge, childhood cancer, government neglect...and a Pulitzer Prize! @joefain on his governmental thriller: http://tiny.grc/1udWRKZ
Em dashes

Em dashes can be used to set off various parts of a sentence

  • "Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling." —Walt Whitman
  • Meet the hoodie that can send secret texts—just the latest life hack out of @IP_GRC: http://tinygrc.is/1uRPIAm

How To: To make an em dash (—) on a Mac, hold down SHIFT+OPTION+hyphen.

  • NEVER use a hyphen (-) instead of an em dash.
  • No spaces before or after the em dash.

Network Specific Guidelines

Twitter (6 to 9 posts daily)

  • Shorten all links using tiny.grc/po.st
  • Replace “and” with ampersand (&), NOT plus (+) to save characters when necessary
  • Include any relevant mentions, as long as the account is active.
  • Avoid using more than 3 mentions in a single post.
  • Use MT to signal when a quoted tweet has been modified or shortened.
  • When quoting tweets always add something new before the RT or MT.
    • Thanks—trying these now! MT @GRC_HR Morning GRC! Check out 8 things to do every to be better at work (and life) ht.ly/xCy5h
  • Try for 1-2 native RTs (not quoting) per day.
  • Try to include at least one hashtag per post. Avoid using 3+ hashtags in a single post.
  • Cite the source of an article or news item by tagging the relevant account at the end of the message in brackets.
    • Auburns's all-black WWI regiment fought to convince America to live up to its democratic promise: http://tiny.grc/1sbrdAp [@auburnreporter]

Facebook (2-3 posts daily)

  • Use line breaks
  • Include any relevant mentions, as long as the account is ACTIVE and the names of the mentioned accounts aren’t so long as to be cumbersome.
  • Delete the text URL from your post if displaying the link preview.
  • For a post where you don’t want the preview to show, use a shortened link (nyu.is) in the message itself.

YouTube (daily maintenance: hide Spam, reply to comments)

  • Give videos descriptive names to support SEO
  • Include relevant hyperlinks after description
  • Update videos and retire old content on a quarterly basis

Instagram (2 posts weekly)

  • Relevant photos of campus.
  • Share images posted by others of Green River College, students and/or events.
  • Use @ tags when responding to posts/replies.
  • Shorten all links using tiny.grc/po.st
  • Replace “and” with ampersand (&), NOT plus (+) to save characters when necessary
  • Include any relevant mentions, as long as the account is active.
  • Avoid using more than 3 mentions in a single post.
  • Edit photos and apply filters in third-party software or apps (such as VSCO Cam, Lightroom, or iPhoto).
  • Images should be artsy while remaining natural—effects should never compromise image quality (i.e. avoid effects that create intense sharpening, contrast, strange colorcasts, or overexposure.)
  • Avoid using similar effects or color palettes consecutively. (The appearance of the main Instagram profile should have rows of thumbnails that have a similar aesthetic but not too uniform.)
  • Shoot photos on a DSLR or other high-resolution producing camera whenever possible. A smartphone will work in a pinch, and modern phones have exceptional cameras.
  • Insure that images are at least 72 dpi.

LinkedIn (1 to 2 posts weekly)

  • Positions available on campus.
  • Share business success stories.
  • Connect with alumni.
  • Celebrate college successes with alumni.

Avatars, Profile Images and Covers

All avatars should align with Visual Identity Style Guide. Do not use JUST the Green River logo as a stand-alone avatar or profile image (other than the official campus account and branch campuses).

Cover images should be the same across ALL platforms chosen from program image libraries available in the College Asset Wizard (NEED LINK). Please submit a request to Creative Services, if you need additional images for your program or department.

Please submit a request to College Relations for department specific avatars/profile photos. 

Engagement Style

Green River has a specific engagement style, based on each channel.

Twitter

  • “The Bee Hive”+ “The Friend”
  • Favorite tweets from followers and #GRC hash-tagged tweets

Facebook

  • “Your Friendly Neighborhood Service Rep” and “The Bee Hive”
  • Like comments from users
  • Use inline comments to reply to users when there is an opportunity to respond
  • Hide Spam

Instagram

  • “The Friend”
  • Like pictures that are #GRC related
  • Follow back users who comment frequently or tag #GRC in their photos

LinkedIn

  • “Community Builder” + “Your Friendly Neighborhood Service Rep”
  • Share stories of college success
  • Share job opportunities in a unique way
  • Interact with users in comments
  • Connect with all alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community members.

Friendly Neighborhood Service Rep

Your message: Like a good neighbor, you listen to your customers and engage them on an individual level, mostly to solve customer support issues or to capitalize on sales opportunities. You monitor social network channels because “that’s where the customers are,” and if conversations are happening about your brand, you want to be there to participate.

In this engagement style, Twitter is an extension of your customer service reps (albeit in a limited, loose way). Businesses following this style don’t so much start the conversation as they react to the ones that have already started - whether that’s a customer complaining about your brand or a consumer asking a question that your business is well-equipped to answer. You live by co-tweet, the @-reply and direct message.

How you say it: With one friendly “individual” voice. This engagement style calls for a business to officially anoint someone or selected people from within the company to be the official Tweet-voice. Their personality is allowed to come through on some level within company boundaries. Customers need to feel as if they are being handled by an actual human being who is personable, but not too edgy.

The Bee Hive

The message: We’re all in this together people. Everyone who works for you can be your social network identity. Instead of having an official company account, you encourage all employees to participate in social media networks. Work identities collapse into personal social identities.

In this engagement style, the focus is not so much the direct relationship between consumer and business. Instead, it’s a distributed relationship whereby the business benefits by all the small relationships between its employees and the wider world. This is a radical way of thinking about customer engagement because it’s about cultivating a culture of engagement throughout your entire company.

How you say it: In a wacky, edgy, at times out-of-control voice. Often a company in this style will have a social media policy setting some ground rules and expectations; but the real thing holding this strategy together is a philosophy of engagement.

The Friend

Your message: Every customer interaction is like one amazing high-five. You are the business owner who knows all your customers by name and hangs out with them on the weekends. Your business Twitter account is way more important to you than your personal account (in fact you may not even have a separate personal account - it’s all the same to you).

Businesses in this style will share relevant info like menu updates, new products and event information but will also mix in personal thoughts, jokes and pictures of themselves at work. They tweet about things that have nothing to do with the business per se. These businesses want to their relationship with their customer base to be fluid and up-to-date.

How you say it: Just as you would say something to a pal. Pretty much anything goes, though the more personal the voice the better. Because your engagement with your customer is based on the friendliness of the relationship, the more natural and true to the voice of the person communicating, the better.

The Community Builder

Your message: Always an acquaintance but never a friend. You think of your customers as like-minded folks, and so you build spaces on the social web for them to hang out and share in their like-mindedness. You use Twitter to share non-business related links and quotes that you think your customers will like, but you also keep a slight distance from them in an attempt to let them drive the conversation. You probably use the word ‘movement’ in your Twitter bio.
Oftentimes, a business who follows this style will integrate their Twitter use within other social technologies - blogs (but for strictly non-business news), forums, and even entire websites devoted to the things your community cares about.

The community builder’s goal is to create conversation around things the company cares about and then link that conversation to the brand.

How you say it: With a balanced combination of passion and detachment. You want to encourage your customers to join your movement but you don’t want to either dominate the conversation or make the whole thing feel like it was cooked up by your marketing department. You are going for what people actually care about and so a little humility — making the brand ride shotgun or even in the back — works best.

 

 

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