GVSU Social Blog


Permanent link for A guide to determining your social media audience on February 14, 2022

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. 


Categories: engagement strategy
Posted by Anna Young on Permanent link for A guide to determining your social media audience on February 14, 2022.

Permanent link for Tips to make high quality social media posts on January 13, 2022

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].

Categories: best practices strategy
Posted by Anna Young on Permanent link for Tips to make high quality social media posts on January 13, 2022.

Permanent link for Four tips to make your social media content more accessible on March 4, 2021

Social media should be accessible for all, but that’s often not the case. 

Leaving out alt-text, overusing emojis and writing in all-capital letters are all errors we’ve made while creating social media content. 

It’s on us as social media managers to stay up-to-date on best accessibility practices. When accessibility is left out of a social media strategy, it’s a missed opportunity to connect with members of your audience. 

Follow the four tips below to create more accessible social media content. 

Include image descriptions

Writing an alternate description, also known as alt-text, helps people visualize an image when they can’t see it. 

Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook have specific fields to add alt-text for images and GIFs. Include descriptive captions in post copy when providing alt-text is not possible.

Remember to transcribe copy in the image, if it is crucial to understanding the image (example: a graphic or chart). 

Make sure videos have captions

Captioned videos assist people with hearing impairments, but they can also help people watching with the sound off or those who are learning the language the video is in. 

How do you add captions? Here’s a guide from Hootsuite.

  • Facebook: Auto-generate captions, write them yourself, or upload a SubRip (.srt) file. Automatic closed captioning is also available for Facebook Live and Workplace Live.
  • YouTube: Auto-generate captions, transcribe them, or upload a supported file. Errors can be corrected with the caption editor. Automatic captions are available in English for YouTube Live
  • Instagram: Automatic closed captioning is available for IGTV Live and IGTV. For stories, there is a "sticker" that automatically transcribes the video and adds captions. Video captions must be added to in-feed posts in advance. 
  • Twitter: Upload an .srt file with your video. 
  • LinkedIn: Upload an .srt file with your video.

A paid service University Communications uses for generating SRT files is rev.com

Write hashtags in “Camel Case” 

Capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag to make it more legible for everyone and prevent screen reader issues.

Instead of writing hashtags #LIKETHIS or #likethis, make sure to #WriteLikeThis, a practice often referred to as “Camel Case.” 

Writing in all capital letters can be misinterpreted by all, so it’s best to not overuse them. Include hashtags and @mentions at the end of copy, as they can disrupt the caption. 

Don’t use fancy characters or emojis in the middle of copy

Consider how special characters and emojis sound they are read by a screen reader. 

Special characters that create different fonts on social media sound jumbled, and emojis are read as their descriptions. Example: “pleading face” and “dizzy.” Before using emoji in social media copy, check Emojipedia to learn how it translates to text.

Categories: best practices strategy
Posted by Meagan Saxton on Permanent link for Four tips to make your social media content more accessible on March 4, 2021.

Permanent link for Building a College President's Social Media Presence on May 28, 2020

Written by Anna Young

After beginning her tenure as president of Grand Valley State University in 2019, Philomena V. Mantella became the first president at GVSU to have social media. She has a professional presence on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Managing social media for an individual is very different from an institutional account. Here are a few tips the Grand Valley social media team has learned along the way. 

Assemble a Team

President Mantella’s busy schedule gives ample opportunity for great social content but doesn’t allow her time to manage her social media accounts on her own. It quickly became evident that in order to grow a strong following and consistently create high-quality posts, support was needed.

Our social team monitors President Mantella’s social media each day to share content and monitor engagements. Maintaining an active presence on social media has been key to growing the following on all of these accounts. 

Building a close relationship with the president’s office has been essential to curating strong content for social media. The president’s office will keep the social media team updated on President Mantella’s schedule, and assist in sharing relevant content with us as needed. 

Identify Your Goals

Being new to the role of president, the strategy around President Mantella’s accounts is focused on accurately demonstrating her priorities as a leader, and fostering a strong relationship with the GVSU community. 

We utilize President Mantella’s accounts to share more specific presidential initiatives that may not resonate with the broader GVSU social media audience. We’ve also seen success in sharing more personal posts, such as photos of her dog, or outings she’s had with her family. 

To support building a connection with the Laker community, we regularly engage with relevant posts through likes or comments. This includes congratulating recent Laker alumni on their graduation or thanking a faculty member for going above and beyond with their students. 

Make a Plan

On a weekly basis, we share the social media plan for the next week with President Mantella and a few others in her office. President Mantella has full approval of all of the content that is shared on her accounts, and often posts content on her own when she sees fit. 

We’ve also collaborated with her to curate specific audience personas that she wishes to connect with on social media. This includes national leaders in higher education, and those working in innovative tech spaces around the country, including professionals at Google and Sony. 

Track Analytics

To ensure the goals you’ve set are being met, it’s essential that you are regularly examining your analytics. 

Being new accounts, tracking follower growth seems like it would be priority number one, but we actually focus more on engagement, impressions and reach. You can have a large following, but if they aren’t engaged, it means your content isn’t connecting with your audience. 

Additionally, if you have low reach and impressions on your posts, It’s unlikely that your audience will continue to grow. The best way to ensure strong impressions is to generate timely, unique content that others will want to see. 

Not sure what analytics are most important to you? Sprout created a helpful run-down of what social media metrics are, and what you should be paying attention to. 

You can learn more about President Mantella and her initiatives at www.gvsu.edu/president.

Categories: best practices strategy
Posted by Anna Young on Permanent link for Building a College President's Social Media Presence on May 28, 2020.

Permanent link for Creating a new social media account on October 1, 2019

Written by Olivia Windorf

The social media landscape is constantly advancing, sometimes even overnight. Organizations, clubs and departments around Grand Valley could greatly benefit from the positive exposure and self-expression that accompanies a strong social media presence. Strategically creating social media accounts has been proven to increase awareness about the mission statement, vision and goals of thousands of institutions and brands.

By creating social accounts, you get to choose how to brand your organization and the message behind it. A few notable benefits of establishing a presence on social media include increased traffic for your site, connect with your audience, and boost awareness.

Here are some important strategies to consider when creating new social media accounts: 

Before you create a new account:

  • You don’t have to create an account on every platform, at least not immediately.
  • Focus more on platforms your target audience is engaging with.
  • Set goals and objectives
    • Think of what you really want the page to consist of
    • What will be your “voice” and tone on social?
    • What tactics will you use to gain followers?
    • Do you want to incorporate contests?

If you already have accounts on social media platforms, the steps outlined below can be used to revamp and update the current content being posted.

After you’ve created a new account:

  • Create a social media calendar.

This will help you keep track of important dates and content while also allowing you to craft copy in advance.

  • Assign certain platforms to team members.

It can be daunting to attempt to juggle the content, strategy and managing multiple social media posts. This is especially so if you have limited resources. Delegating tasks can save a lot of time, energy, sanity, and even budget dollars for your team.

  • Pay attention to the competition.

You never know what a little inspiration will strike. Keep your eyes open for new ideas and concepts that other users are sharing out on social, and how those ideas can be customized to fit your brand.

When creating content:

  • Quality over quantity. The material that you put online is going to represent the entirety of your organization, so be sure to choose wisely and strategically with what content you post.
  • Be consistent. Most platforms use algorithms to base each user’s timelines off of posts and accounts they engage with the most.
    • Facebook and Instagram will decrease the views of your posts on your followers timeline if the posting from your account decreases so the more consistent you are on social media, the more time you get on your follower’s timelines. However, be aware of the fine line between posting often and posting too much.
  • Leverage third party sites to schedule posts.
      • For Instagram, it has to be a business account in order to schedule future posts. For Twitter, tweets can only be scheduled using Twitter ads. But there are many sites that will do this for you.
      • Some reliable websites to use for scheduling posts are: Sprout Social, Buffer and Hootsuite.

By staying consistent in your social strategy, content and values, your target audience will gain an understanding of the message you want to communicate. It’s all about trying to reach your designated consumer from any angle or platform that they may be using, and getting them to engage and respond in as many ways as possible.

Categories: best practices strategy
Posted on Permanent link for Creating a new social media account on October 1, 2019.

Page last modified February 14, 2022