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Creating content and engaging your audiences

It can be a challenge to get people's attention. If you make the effort to be interesting, useful and relevant to your audience, this will help you to engage with them. While it can be tempting to save time by posting one piece of content across all your social media channels, this is not recommended as each channel has a different audience and tone of voice. This practice is usually obvious to followers and it can make them disengage with you, so it's best to tailor your content for each social platform you use.

How to engage and develop your followers

Content Development

Be interesting, useful and relevant to your audience. Think about your audience/followers when creating and developing content, what they are interested in and would like to hear about.

Content relevant to your interests, campaign or department can also be sourced from Trinity’s main channels: Facebook @TrinityCollegeDublin; Twitter @tcddublin; Instagram @trinitycollegedublin and LinkedIn @TrinityCollegeDublin.

Feel free to share, retweet and regram content from the central and other local Trinity social media accounts.

It is also good to coordinate and plan content with partners and key stakeholders, such as other schools and faculty accounts, researchers and staff who are active on social media.

70/20/10 Rule

A good rule of thumb when planning content is to use the 70/20/10 Rule. This guides you to use

70% engaging/interesting content to your followers – not self-promoting

  • Interesting content relevant to your followers research updates internal and external
  • Relevant media / journal news for your subject/area
  • Events updates from your area and around the college
  • Selected staff and student success stories

20% promotional content about your area, school, department

  • Updates from your area
  • Research news stories specific to your area
  • Course promotion
  • Selected Staff and student success stories

10% test content

  • Trying something new to test follower engagement/ reaction
  • Different type of imagery, video length, tone/language development
  • Polls, questions, live streaming etc

Keep in Mind

It is important to remember you are representing Trinity through official work accounts so please keep this in mind when engaging on social media.

Mistakes happen, people understand this. If you do make a mistake on social media, just correct or remove it and apologise if necessary, as soon as possible.

REMEMBER it is difficult to delete something from the internet. Even if you do ‘delete' a post, chances are it can still be found, saved and shared. It's best to be fully aware of what you're posting and use common sense when deciding to post.

REMEMBER anything you post online reflects on the university so ensure you always post and engage appropriately. Libellous comments, racism, sexism, swearing and other offensive language should all be avoided. See university policy links here.

Only use material that you have permission to post, don't break copyright laws. Think carefully before you post – if you are not sure if something is accurate or appropriate, don't publish it. IF IN DOUBT – LEAVE IT OUT! It's important not to post any unlawful, offensive or inappropriate content or links to other sites that contain such content.

Social media is as it says in its name – SOCIAL, it should not be used just to push out information from your area, so don't just use it to publish messages. Engage with people through your channel, answer direct messages or posted queries as soon as you can, say thank you and listen to their responses.

When operating an account bearing ties with the university it is important not to affiliate with politicians, campaigns, commercial entities or charities who are not clearly associated with Trinity.

It is good to consider too that sometimes humour does not travel well, this is particularly relevant to social media given its global reach and different cultures.

Post frequency - keep accounts up to date

To help build an engaged audience it is recommended that you regularly post to your channels and engage with your followers.

A good starting point when beginning social media activities is to post

  • On Twitter least three times a week
  • On Facebook twice a week
  • Instagram image feed – once a week
  • Instagram stories – three times a week

As your engagement and followers grow, you can increase posting activity to

  • On Twitter everyday
  • On Facebook - every other day
  • Instagram image feed – once or twice a week
  • Instagram stories – three to four times a week

You can also begin to occasionally post content out during evenings and weekends using scheduling tool. More about this later.

The best times to post are related to each platform and your account’s audience. Facebook give information on this in the Insights on this by looking at when your followers are online and engaging with that platform.

How you say it

Social media is about having meaningful conversations online between real people, so if you make the effort to be human on your social profiles your followers will appreciate it.

Tone - friendly and professional language

Remember you are always representing Trinity. Social media's success is built on being engaging and open, so make sure you take that attitude too. Be clear about your connection to Trinity and your role.

It's a good idea to get to know the language, tone of voice and agreements of the social media platforms you plan to use or post on. This will show your audience that you understand how the community you've joined works and that you know what you're doing.

All social media content from Trinity channels is aimed at a wide range of stakeholders including many people for whom English is not their first language. It is sensible to avoid slang and jokes which might misunderstood or unintentionally offensive to some of our followers.

Engage…. Reply, Like, Comment

Communication is two-way and this includes social media. Listen and engage with your audiences. This is particularly important when they post queries on your page or by direct message.

It is best practice to answer a query where is has been posted such as on your Facebook page where possible, with the information required. If you don't have the details direct them to the correct person or webpage for more information. This information may also be of interest or help to your other followers.

If needed, you can respond privately on direct message but always let the person know that you have replied to them by direct message where their original query was posted so others that follow the account are aware that you responded. Response times to queries are also important. Queries should be answered as soon as possible and within 24 hours at the latest during working hours.

If a situation arises where you are unsure how to respond to a particular difficult query you can contact us for advice.

Ask your followers questions too

With so much activity on social media, it can be a challenge to get people's attention. If you make the effort to be interesting, useful and relevant to your audience, this will help you to engage with them. Ask your followers questions too – this will encourage even more interaction and shows that you are listening.

Cross posting is not recommended

While it can be tempting to save time by posting an identical piece of content across all your social media channels at once, this is not recommended as each channel has a different audience tone of voice. This practice is usually obvious to followers and it can make them disengage with you, it's best to tailor your content for each social platform you use.

It is best to draft the content for each channel around a post

  • Using relevant hashtags, tag partners in posts and imagery
  • Curating content in advance is helpful
  • Linking social activity back to fundamental research where possible

Be Visual

Visual content such as photographs, videos, infographics and other forms of imagery work well on social media and can help tell your story or get your message across, catching people’s attention as they are scrolling through their feeds.

Images

Research shows that posts accompanied by imagery achieve 300% more engagement, so use it whenever you can. It’s good to test how your images look across different social media platforms, as their dimensions will differ and can result in images being blurry or cropped. There are many free online infographic sites such as Canva, which can help you create engaging graphics.

Trinity has its own image bank of professional photos relating to the institution, which is a great source of Trinity images of events, buildings and the campus.

This is available to all Trinity staff upon request. If you would like access, please contact us.

Image Dimensions

Each social platform has its own specific dimensions for cover, profile and post images. It is important to keep this in mind when selecting images. Images should be resized and cropped to suit the particular platform.

Image dimensions for each platform (2020)

  • Twitter: 1200 x 675
  • Instagram: 1080 x 1080
  • Instagram stories 1080 x 1920
  • Facebook: 1,200 x 630
  • LinkedIn: 1,200 x 628

You can use free tools to assist with getting images sized right for each channel such as CANVA Image Resizer

It’s good to note that the platforms change dimension from time to time, so it’s best to frequently Google the recommended image dimensions for each platform.

Video

As with images, each platform has set parameters for video length, and if you try to post something outside of these it will be rejected.

Platform video time limits

  • Twitter: 2 mins 20 seconds
  • Facebook: – 240 mins
  • Instagram: – 59 seconds
  • Instagram stories: – 15 seconds each
  • IGTV: 1 hour
  • LinkedIn: 10 mins

Good vs Bad content

Here there are some guidelines and examples on what good and bad social media content looks like to help you on your way to successful social media activity.

Imagery

Content heavy images should be avoided where possible as the more text heavy or lower resolution your image is, the less likely your audience is to engage with it. Simple is best!

For example, the number of people in images should be limited where possible, we don’t recommend “football team” line up images. See below examples of good and bad images and graphics (Bad – left: Good – right)

Low quality photos

A bad photo will drive people away no matter how good the text is.

Wrong dimensions

Everyone is used to a specific type of imagery for each social media platform. If we see something vastly different, we automatically get put off from it. For Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, we’re used to photos in landscape format, so wide and not very tall. For Instagram, the photos should be square. That way we avoid awkward cropping and don’t confuse our audience.

Stock Images

Avoid using stock imagery as it looks unauthentic, cheap and lazy. It also goes against Trinity’s branding guidelines.

Cluttered Infographics

Avoid using infographics with too much information on them. They’re difficult to read, look unpleasant and make a bad impression. Less is more. If you’re tempted to include a lot of information, think what is crucial or try splitting it across multiple graphics.

How images appear on your channel

When uploading a photo, think about how it’s displayed on your channel. If it’s Facebook post, it’s most likely going to appear on a white background, so make sure it stands out and isn’t just text on a white background.

For cover photos this gets a lot trickier. A part of it is going to be covered by your profile photo, so you need to make sure you don’t have any important content in the lower left corner. For Facebook, your cover photo displays differently on mobile and PC. If you put anything at the edges of your photo, it’s going to get cut off depending on what device you’re using, so make sure all-important information is centred.

Instagram Stories can be tricky too. Avoid putting important content in the top and bottom, as that’s where the user handle and “Send a message” box are housed.

Inconsistent style

Your imagery and graphics should be visually consistent. They don’t need to all look the same, but over time, your followers should recognise your posts by just looking at the image. You can achieve this by using the same fonts, colour schemes, logos and branding elements.

Content Calendar

A social media calendar is just what it sounds like: a calendar for scheduling social content which gives you an overview of what content needs to be published, what’s coming next, and the strategy behind why content is being published at a certain date and time.

A content calendar helps to organise the way you curate and generate content, develop a better content strategy and allocate your resources properly.

Benefits of Content Calendars

  • Gives an overview of content
  • Can be developed for short and long-term planning
  • Support consistent posting
  • Help decide what content to share
  • Helps you to become more productive and effective
  • Helps identify opportunities that could be developed
  • Supports teamwork between channel administrators
  • Identifies busy or quite periods for planning
  • Helps decide frequency of posting

Creating Your Social Media Content Calendar

Social Media Calendars can be developed in file tools such as Excel Spreadsheets, Google Docs and should be hosted on shared with fellow administers on systems such as OneDrive, Teams, shared file drives.

Content calendar example

Scheduling

Scheduling content is a great way of engaging with your followers, event after you’ve left work.

Putting together good content can require some planning, so think about what material you are going to post and prepare it in advance where possible. You might find it useful to have an ongoing schedule of content or content calendar to help ensure your channels are kept up to date and enable you to plan for any campaigns or specific news or events. This can also help you foresee busy periods or gaps in content which can be dealt with in advance.

Scheduling posts in advance makes life easier. Several good scheduling tools are free such as Hootsuite cater for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Tweetdeck is free online tool allowing Twitter content, from one or more twitter accounts, to be scheduled and monitored in one place. Facebook has a publishing tool enabling pages to schedule content and there are many tools available free and paid that provide scheduling features.

Suggested free scheduling tools:

  • Tweetdeck
  • Facebook
  • Postify

Monitoring and Social listening

Monitoring accounts

It is vital that official university social media accounts are monitored on a regular basis for a range of reasons…

  • To engage with comments - like or reply
  • Queries need to be responded to
  • Identify comments that raise an issue or opportunity
  • Feedback to be sent on to relevant dept/area

You should activate notifications for accounts to notify administrators of comments, direct and private messages and posts to page. Also, if you are scheduling content it is important to check on accounts at least once a day to check on them to monitor any responses etc

It is important to be aware that all social media platforms are third party platforms which the university is active on but does not own or control.

When differences of opinions or criticism towards the university / department/ activities are expressed it is not best practice to delete them. It is important to review comments, take on the feedback and send on to the area responsible if needed.

If comments/statement are clearly incorrect it is good to professionally clarify this and simply outline the situation. After that is done It is not advisable to engage in a discussion around an issue in a public forum. If the commenter tries to develop the issue and become contentious, request that the contact you by private message so that you can assist them in resolving the matter. 

Non-Trinity related product/ service placement, which can appear in comments or posts to page community, is not permitted on official accounts these can be removed. If a particular poster continues you can block them permanently.

If someone posts something that causes offence or embarrassment, a polite request for removal should usually suffice. You can find the University’s take down procedures in the university's social media policy.

If there are any issues that arise which you are unsure how to deal with, please contact us

Social Listening

Social listening is when you review the social media platforms you are active on for mentions and conversations related to your area/subject to discover possible opportunities.

You look through social media channels for mentions of your area/subject, competitors, and keywords related to your area. Then you analyse the information for ways to put what you learn into action. That can be something as small as responding to a happy customer, or something as big as shifting your entire brand positioning.

Include social listening into your activities because it can help give you an idea on what your is being said about your area/ department and organisation that you won’t necessarily always get from native analytics on your owned social pages.

You can also identify people who you might want to engage with and potentially form a relationship with and it can highlight opportunities to launch new programmes or new types of content. These are all factors that can’t be measured by native analytics alone.

Trinity Social Media Support

Along with managing the university's central social media accounts Trinity Communications provides guidance and support to the administrators of Trinity affiliated accounts and those considering setting up social media accounts. This includes support for queries in relation to

  • which channels are suitable in relation to the school/area's objectives
  • identity guidelines – naming and visual identity
  • content curation and planning
  • channel administration in relation to the university's social media guidelines and policy
  • dealing with inappropriate posts and content, difficult queries
  • training  

Each week, the Trinity Communications social media team hosts a social media group meeting for all those who administer official Trinity social media accounts get in touch to find out more.

Training

Training is provided in a range of options from “Lunch and Learn” session with guest speakers, issues specific training and guidance, and larger session such as “Trinity is Social” college wide events.

Social media training can also be organised for local areas in collaboration with Trinity Communications and Human Resources.  

Sessions include:

  • Introduction to Social Media
  • Social Media and your Research Profile
  • Listening and Monitoring on Social Media

For further information contact us at TrinityCommunications@tcd.ie