GVSU Social Blog
When promoting an event or program, graphics are a great way to share information in an exciting, visual way. Whether you make your graphics in Canva, Photoshop or Illustrator, sizing is the most important first step to creating your graphic.
The size of your graphics or photos is flexible, no platform has a rigid aspect ratio anymore (see Instagram section). The only image on your social media accounts that should be square is your profile photo.
Let’s walk through the correct sizing for each social media platform and how to size them in Canva, Photoshop or even on your iPhone.
Throw out everything you know about Instagram sizing. In a 2015 Instagram update, photos no longer need to be square (aspect ratio 1:1).
The “new” dimensions for Instagram are flexible. Photos and graphics can vary in size. The ideal aspect ratio for Instagram is 1.91:1. For easy graphic-making, we will translate these ratios to pixel dimensions. A good sizing for your Instagram post would be 1080px wide by 566px high. For a portrait orientation, simply flip the dimensions.
Instagram stories are a great place to post graphics, as we recommend your feed stays photo heavy. The aspect ratio of the images or graphics that you post to your story should be 9:16, or 1080px wide X 1920px high. The 9:16 aspect ratio translates very easily to the average phone screen. Sizing your graphics to this will result in a graphic that fills the screen, which is perfect for stories.
Twitter has three places for photo sharing: profile photos, cover photos, and feed photos.
Again, all profile photos should be a 1:1 square. In pixels, 400x400 is a good place to start. To prevent Twitter from cropping your photo in ways you don’t want, we recommend resizing your photo to match the 1:1 aspect ratio to avoid unwanted cropping when uploading.
Twitter cover photos should be an aspect ratio of 3:1. In terms of pixels, 1500px X 500px is a good place to start.
Most important are feed photos. The aspect ratio of the images or graphics that you Tweet should be 16:9, or 1920px wide X 1080px high. This will result in the entire graphic being visible in the feed without your followers needing to expand the image.
Like Twitter, Facebook also has three places for photo sharing: profile photos, cover photos, and feed photos. See the Twitter section for sizing.
The only difference with posting graphics or images to Facebook is that Facebook has the capability to display a full 1:1 ratio in-feed. This means you can post square graphics without requiring viewers an extra click to expand the image to see the full thing.
At the end of the day, we all want to work smarter, not harder, right? Something you may have noticed was how each platform is compatible with a 16:9 ratio. When making one graphic with the intention to share across all platforms, a 16:9 ratio (1920px wide X 1080px high) is the way to go.
We recommend making one horizontal oriented graphic (16:9) to share on your Facebook and Twitter feeds and one 9:16 version of your graphic to share on your Instagram Story to keep your feed clear of visual clutter.
To see these aspect ratios more visually, Facebook has provided aspect ratio templates in which you can see how these ratios will appear on a phone screen.
Resizing graphics and photos
This all may sound confusing, but luckily there are resources available that make graphic and photo sizing incredibly easy.
The main one being Canva. Canva is free to use and has templates available that are already sized for social media platforms. The downside to using these templates is that they are not transferable to other platforms unless you have Canva Pro. For example, if you use the “Facebook post” template, the finished graphic will not be optimized for Twitter.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Twitter will still allow you to post the image. Posting something too large for Twitter’s aspect ratio would result in the image being cropped in the feed, requiring your followers to open it fully to get the information you are providing. We want to avoid this.
To save yourself time, we recommend creating your design with a custom size of a 16:9 ratio (1920 X 1080) so it can be shared on any social media platform.
Attached are screenshots outlining how to size or resize images and graphics in Canva, Photoshop or on your iPhone.
Knowing your audience is key to crafting successful social media. If you know who is following you and is interested in seeing what you’re sharing, you can tailor your posts platform-by-platform to reach the right people at the right time.
Here’s a few tips for how to identify your social media audience.
Analyze Your Analytics
You don’t need a fancy analytics platform, such as Sprout, in order to get a decent idea of your audience. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have decent internal analytics trackers that will give you an idea of which posts are most successful for you month-to-month.
Take a look at your most successful and most unsuccessful posts you’ve made recently. What types of people engaged with it most? Was it current GVSU students? Possibly alumni? Or was it a broader audience of parents and community members?
Make note of what groups engage most with your posts platform by
platform, then you can move on to the next step in understanding your audience.
We also recommend checking out this guide to identifying the best times of day to post, as this can better help you connect with your audience.
Create Buyer Personas
Now it’s time to think deeper about the groups you just identified. Create a document outlining fictional versions of the people most likely to engage with you. This page provides a very helpful guide to creating buyer personas.
The purpose of creating buyer personas is to have a more detailed picture of not only who is currently engaged with your social media, but also which less engaged groups you want to increase engagement with.
The process of creating a buyer persona document isn’t as tedious as it may sound, and it can be an eye-opening exercise! We recommend giving it a shot.
Make a Plan
There are a variety of ways you can go about creating a plan to best engage all the different sections of your audience.
You could consider color coding your content plan based on which buyer persona each post appeals to. Another option would be to center your content around a certain audience for each week or month, creating a theme to drive your content.
All of this can seem like some unnecessary work, it’s just social media, right? Wrong! Doing this work can help you work smarter, not harder. Increasing engagement on your social media posts and fitting your content to your audience will translate to more successful social media overall. It always pays to have a plan.
As always, please contact us at [email protected] if you need any assistance.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we say that there are some rules to making a good-looking social media post. These tips will help you keep your posts looking flawless.
Context is key
Before posting on any platform, take time to craft a brief caption that accurately represents the message you are trying to send with the post.
Sharing a link to an interesting news article? Describe what article is about and how it ties into your social media presence. Posting a beautiful photo? Give context to the image so your audience understands why you are posting it.
That being said, don’t post an essay either. Twitter has a strict character limit, but Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn do not, so it can be easy to get carried away. Try your best to get your point across in no more than three sentences if you can. Attention spans are short when scrolling social media, so you need to get your point across quickly!
Clean it up
What does it mean to keep a social media post looking “clean”? To us, it means removing any distracting items that will keep the viewer from best understanding the goal of a post.
Say it with us: I will not put URLs in Instagram posts because they cannot be clicked on.
Okay, great, now here are a couple other housekeeping tips:
If you’re sharing an article from a news site, there’s often easy sharing options on the website that will pop an article right onto any social media platform. The issue with these is that they don’t usually make for very “pretty” looking posts. Often they are crowded with hashtags, mentions of the news outlets and repetitive captions that also appear on link previews. We always recommend writing your own caption instead.
Avoid using text backgrounds on Facebook posts. These are the options to post an image with a colorful background with text over it. These do not align with GVSU’s brand presence, and do not look professional. Save the fun backgrounds for personal social media posts.
Include *good* visuals
Widen is always our number one recommendation for getting beautiful photos to go with your photos. But of course, it’s not the only place to source images from.
Feel free to post your own photos if they make sense for your social media presence. But, never post blurry images, images that are screenshots from a phone or computer or graphics that are not sized appropriately.
Sometimes images will crop incorrectly, or the resolution will be
lower than expected. If you post an image and notice it doesn’t look
quite right, please delete it.
As always, if you have any questions, contact us at [email protected].
Permanent link for Small updates to your social media that can make a big difference on October 21, 2021
We’re just over two months away from 2022, crazy, right? If you’re working on your to-do list for the rest of the year, we’d encourage you to consider auditing your GVSU social media presence to see what can be improved!
Here are some pointers for what you can look out for to whip your social media platforms into top shape.
Utilize the right visuals
The text, images and links used in social media posts should always
accurately represent what you are trying to post. Make sure you have
permission to use the images you are considering using.
We recommend only using photos from the Widen database. Please check the tags on the photo before using it if you are unsure if it properly relates to what you are using it for.
If you are using a photo outside of Widen, please confirm that you have permission to use that photo from whoever took the image. If you do not have explicit permission, do not use it.
If you do not see any photos in Widen that would work for your needs, please submit a photo request form.
Follow the right accounts
As a GVSU affiliated account, we encourage you to only follow accounts that are relevant to the university community. Feel free to follow any other GVSU account, as well as community-based accounts that relate to your work. This can include local news, community leadership and other organizations.
Refrain from following personal accounts, particularly of current or former students. Unless they are a public figure that relates to content you might post, following students is not necessary. The general public can view a GVSU account following an individual as an endorsement, and if that individual is posting things that do not align with our policies and values, this can cause issues.
Send users to the right place
Most social media platforms allow you to put a URL in your bio, and this can be a great resource to direct traffic to your website.
You can easily include website links in posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and we encourage you to do so when appropriate. Do not put links in Instagram or TikTok posts. Links in the copy of posts on these two platforms will not be clickable so they are not useful to your followers.
Post frequently on all of your accounts. Frequency can vary platform to platform, but generally you should share valuable content at least a few times a month to stay engaged with your followers.
If you find you don’t have content to post very often, consider deactivating the account, as it may not be the right fit for your social media presence. Never leave unused accounts active, always deactivate the account.
Create login information for the account that cannot be easily guessed by potential hackers. Always use a general department GVSU email address as the associated email for the account. Do not use an email that is tied to a single employee. Using an individual’s email can lead to losing account access in the event of that individual leaving the university.
Use two-factor authentication on all social media accounts, and make sure you also use a general departmental phone number, not a personal phone number.
Be sure more than one person in the office knows the login
information to the account and it is shared and stored safely if it
needs to be accessed. Also, keep University Communications updated
with who is the primary manager of your social media accounts. Email
[email protected] if
you make any changes to account management.
Need help auditing your social media? We’re here to help! Contact us at [email protected] .
Instagram is a tricky place to share information on events or resources - especially when it comes to links.
Links don’t work in feed posts on Instagram. Instead, links are shared in the account's bios (found on their profile), or through Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are temporary posts that last for 24 hours and do not show up in your feed. Instead, they can be viewed by tapping on your profile photo which will appear at the top of followers’ home pages.
Link sharing has only been available to accounts that are verified, or accounts with over 10,000 followers. For smaller accounts looking to share information with their followers, this has been quite a hurdle.
New Link Sharing Feature Coming Soon
Instagram has announced that they are introducing a new link sharing tool for Instagram Stories. Links will be able to be shared via stickers that people can tap when they view your story.
Since it is still in its infancy, this feature is only available to accounts with previous link sharing abilities. It is currently being discussed whether or not this feature will be available to all accounts.
Still utilize Instagram Stories. This feature is perfect for promoting events, as promotional content may start to clog your main feed. The Instagram feed should show who your organization is and what it is doing; it’s best for documenting.
For promotional content that may still be relevant after the 24 hours that Instagram Stories last, create a highlight on your Instagram profile. A highlight is a collection of previously shared Instagram Stories that show up as small bubbles under your bio. To create one, simply press the small + under the “edit profile” button. This will take you to a page where you can view and select from every Instagram Story you have ever posted.
Instagram Stories are best for promoting. Try to differentiate between which posts are best for your main feed and which are best for your story.We recommend taking advantage of Instagram Stories and getting creative with them by creating your own graphics made specifically for your Instagram Stories.
A great tool for making quick and easy Instagram Stories is Canva. An account is free, and they have customizable templates sized for Instagram Story graphics. A paid subscription can offer even more template choices. Or, if you’re feeling creative, you can start from a blank template and create your own!
Link sharing on Instagram is still available through different out-of-app providers when you require it. These apps add a general link in your bio that can direct your audience to multiple other links. GVSU uses tap.bio, a website that allows your audience to view your feed in a web browser and turns your photos into hyperlinks.
We recommend never sharing a link in Instagram captions. Since links shared in post captions are not clickable, people will most likely not take the time to type the link into their browsers. Sharing as much information as possible through a multi-slide Instagram story or utilizing an external link-in-bio service is a great way to get around this.
For more business resources such as analytics viewing and post sharing abilities, be sure to switch your account to a business account!
Fall semester is upon us, and it’s an exciting time on campus. Students, faculty and staff are looking forward to kicking off the new academic year, but how do you translate that enthusiasm to your department’s social media? We’ve outlined a few ideas to get you started.
Run a giveaway
Everyone loves a chance to win something for free! Consider developing a giveaway that revolves around a current campaign of yours, or ties into welcoming students back to campus.
GVSU’s social media has a tradition of a Fall Photo Contest, where students are able to submit photos of campus in hopes of winning a prize. We ask our followers to vote on their favorite photos in order to determine the winner, so it’s a great engagement generator for us as well.
You don’t even need a big, flashy prize to attract engagement, something as simple as a dining gift card or a free sweatshirt is enough to get users excited. Just remember not to make your giveaway too complicated.
We provide more details on how to run a giveaway in another recent blog, which you can read here.
Get out and about
Think of ways to tie your current social media priorities into what is happening on campus. Is there an event coming up that might align with the work of individuals in your department? Can you show a professor teaching an engaging class? What about a rockstar staff member sharing a photo of their favorite spot on campus?
Showing the hustle and bustle of GVSU is exciting to everyone in the campus community, and as social media managers we play a key role in showing all of the amazing things happening on campus each day. Keep that in mind when planning your social media content for the semester.
Ask the audience
Remember that your followers are excited about the fall semester too! Utilize poll, quiz and rating options on different social media platforms to draw engagement and generate information from your followers.
For example, on GVSU’s Instagram, we asked our followers to submit some of their favorite places in the area to spend time. With the hundreds of responses we received, we were able to turn that into a TikTok, plus an Instagram Highlight! Our followers can use that for inspiration as to what they should do for fun after returning to GVSU.
You may be thinking, “What are all of the dances? How does the app even work? I’m scared.” Don’t fret! TikTok may or may not be what your department needs.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a video focused social media platform that has quickly gained popularity, particularly in the Gen Z age group. About 41% of users are between the ages of 16 and 24. It is the platform of choice for high school students. This is something that a university account will really be able to use in their favor, as these are the ages of most college students. In 2020, it was the most downloaded app on the market being downloaded roughly 850 million times.
The platform is unique because of the addition of a “For You” instead of a “home” page in which users’ content appears despite whether or not they are followed by the viewers.
TikTok has many communities within the platform. Based on a person’s engagement activity their “For You” page will adjust accordingly. Due to this, it is important for accounts to find their niche in order to attract views and/or a following.
In addition to TikTok niches, there is another side to the app in which videos are often discovered. This is through the use of trending sounds. Each sound/song is then categorized and filed with easy, user-friendly access to every video that has been posted using the sound. Using trending sounds/songs is a good way to get views and engagement.
Often, the trending sounds have associated content. For example, everyone who uses a sound might also be posting the same dance associated with the song. Other times, a sound might simply be trending and the videos that use it may all be different. It’s good to be aware of this before using a trending sound.
How can I use TikTok?
Overall, TikTok is a lighthearted social media platform. Although informative videos can do well (such as life hacks or what to buy for your dorm room,) infographics/promotional videos do not do well in this digital environment.
The unique thing about TikTok for higher education is that this is a platform almost solely for a student population, not parents or alumni. With this in mind, you want to target students with your content. This is where student employees can be helpful guides!
A general content rule is 70% trends 30% evergreen. This means that 70% of your content should be including current TikTok trends whether that be through a song, a dance or just a content outline. Additionally, 30% of your content should be evergreen meaning it stays relevant even once the trend has died.
If it is not already clear, knowing the trends may involve a bit of homework, albeit entertaining homework. We recommend scrolling through your “For You” page for inspiration. By doing this you will be aware of the trends which will help you be mindful of whether or not they are appropriate for your account to take part in.
Here are some examples of GVSU’s TikTok content that has performed well:
- “Evergreen” meaning video is relevant even though the sound is not on the trending list anymore
- Relevant to our niche
- Popular sound
- Popular trend (both the sound and video content style)
- Relevant to our niche
- Popular trend (both the sound and video content style)
- Relevant to our niche
- Mindfully appropriate
So, is TikTok right for me?
This is something for you to decide. Many businesses have chosen to create a presence on this platform while others have intentionally stayed away from it. Looking at the information above, you may realize that this app isn't for you - and that’s okay!
The app’s age demographics are a good way of knowing right off the bat if this app can be useful to you. If you want to reach a large student population, TikTok can be useful. If your goal is reaching alumni, faculty/staff or parents, this will most likely not be the app for you.
We’ve all had the moment where you check your social media page’s notifications and find a negative or inappropriate comment. What should you do about it?
The short, and less helpful answer, is that it really depends on the comment. But let’s dive into this a little bit more to hopefully provide some guidance for the next time you bump into a less-than-savory comment.
The University Communications policy on comment moderation is listed
on our social
media guidelines website as follows:
“Grand Valley encourages freedom of expression and recognizes the value of diverse opinions. However, page administrators have a responsibility to remove comments, images, or other material deemed inflammatory, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate, especially when they appear to threaten the welfare or safety of the poster or others.”
This statement is a great basis to help you determine what kinds of comments merit removal from a GVSU-affiliated social media account.
With that, let’s break it down a little more.
Types of comments you should remove
- Comments that are harassing or threatening a specific individual or group
- Comments that are potentially disturbing or triggering in nature for your followers
- Comments using vulgar or inappropriate language
Types of comments you should not remove
- Negative comments
- Comments that disagree with another person, or disagree with the post they are commenting on
- Comments that may be rude, but do not use inappropriate, vulgar or harassing language
- Trolling comments that are trying to bait the account into responding
- Comments containing misinformation or misleading subject matter
- In this case, you may want to respond to the comment to politely clarify
- Comments that have sparked heated conversation amongst other users
- It’s best not to get involved in these conversations unless inappropriate language is being used
The fine art of comment moderation
There are some situations where some of the points above might conflict with each other.
Maybe you have someone endlessly spamming your page with negative comments, or you have a misleading comment that you don’t want to draw attention to but feel the need to clarify to your audience.
These can be tough situations to navigate, and it really is important to consider comment moderation on a case-by-case basis. If you are unsure with how to proceed with handling a certain comment, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We’re always here to support you and think through solutions together.
Anyone who has spent some time developing a social media calendar or writing Tweets knows that social media can be a time consuming task. During busy times, it’s easy for social media to fall by the wayside. Here are some tips to help you create top notch content when you’re in a rush.
For Quick Visuals
Including some kind of imagery with a social media post is critical to catching the eye of your audience, but unless you have a graphic designer or photographer on your team, that content can be hard to come by.
Luckily, GVSU’s photo database in Widen is a great place to start. There are thousands of approved images already on the site that you can pull from for nearly anything you can think of!
If a photo isn’t quite what you’re looking for, we recommend checking out Canva for creating quick, professional-looking graphics.
Canva provides multiple pre-made templates, font families, and color schemes all for free! You can also upload assets, such as the GVSU logo, to incorporate into the graphic.
Just remember to follow GVSU’s brand guidelines as much as possible when creating images in Canva.
Edit Content Like a Pro, Right From Your Phone
If you use an iPhone, the iMovie app was likely automatically downloaded on your device. This app has a surprising amount of video editing features, including animated text and flashy transitions. It’s a great option if you’re looking to add some quick pizzazz to a video you captured on your phone.
Lightroom and Photoshop both have apps that can be downloaded for free to your phone if you already have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. This will allow you to make detailed edits to your photos on the go.
Don’t have access to Adobe Creative Cloud? Never fear! The native editor in the photo app on both iPhones and Android devices can be a great place to start, and the VSCO app also provides pretty good editing options at no cost.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Though we don’t recommend making a habit of reusing content, sometimes a post will be so good that it warrants being shared again.
Refrain from sharing the same graphic, image or video multiple times in a short period, as this can seem repetitive or spammy to your followers.
Instead, check through your archives of saved photos, graphics and videos to dig up content that hasn’t been used in awhile that still might resonate with your followers.
Twitter can be a great platform to recycle content on when appropriate, due to it’s fast-moving nature. We recommend never sharing the same content twice on Instagram, as it’s easy for your followers you view repeated posts on your profile.
Leverage free scheduling platforms
Keeping a consistent presence on all social media platforms is critical to keeping your audience engaged. Scheduling posts is a great way to ensure you’re posting frequently, without the stress of constantly finding time to craft posts.
A word of caution: Be aware that the world of social media can change in an instant, and it’s important to be prepared to remove scheduled posts if they are no longer appropriate to share. We recommend making a weekly check-in on your list of scheduled posts to make sure they are all still relevant and appropriate.
Giveaways can be a fun way to engage with your followers on social media. At Grand Valley, we love showing Lakers some love by giving out gift cards, apparel and more!
But wait - before you hit send on that giveaway Tweet, it’s important to review the rules put in place by various platforms to ensure your giveaway complies with all guidelines.
Let’s review some ground rules for hosting a giveaway on some of social media’s most popular platforms.
Twitter guidelines are pretty giveaway-friendly, and is University Communications’ preferred platform for hosting a giveaway.
- Require users to create multiple Twitter accounts in order to enter the giveaway.
- Encourage posting the same Tweet repeatedly in order to win the giveaway. (a.k.a spam posting)
- Encourage users to mention you (by using the @ sign with your username) in their entry.
- Use relevant hashtags to help aggregate giveaway entries.
- Create giveaways that spur engagement through likes, retweets and replies.
More specifics on Twitter guidelines can be found here.
Instagram is often the platform of choice for hosting a giveaway, given its many options for entry, including likes, comments, mentions and sharing to Instagram Stories.
- Be vague about the rules of the contest. This goes for all platforms, but is especially important on Instagram. Text is featured under images, and is often not read as carefully as it is on other platforms.
- Make it too complicated to enter. Entries for an Instagram giveaway typically include tagging a friend in the comments or quickly sharing a post to your Instagram story. Asking a user to post a photo on their profile may be too much work for many users.
- Include in the text of your giveaway a statement acknowledging that the giveaway is not sponsored, administered, endorsed by or associated with Instagram in any way. This rule may seem pretty strict, but please remember to include it every time!
Further information on Instagram promotions can be found here.
Giveaway guidelines on Facebook are generally similar to Instagram.
- Ask users to share a post on the Timeline to enter.
- Ask users to tag their friends in comments to enter.
- Include in the text of your giveaway a statement acknowledging that the giveaway is not sponsored, administered, endorsed by or associated with Facebook in any way.
Facebook promotion guidelines are listed here.
Have more questions about the rules of a social media giveaway? Contact us at [email protected].