Social Media Strategy and Best Practices

Before You Begin

Social media can be a valuable addition to a robust communication strategy, but consider a few questions before you launch a new social media account: 

  • Who is your intended audience? Is this the right channel to reach them?
  • How much time can you dedicate to the management of this channel?
    • Social media is fast-paced and requires time for monitoring and engagement as well as outgoing messaging.
    • Set aside time to keep up with the ever-changing features and policies within social media channels.
    • Social media is not an afterthought, but a key part of your communication strategy. Social media should not be used to simply amplify your other messages, but messages should be developed directly for social media.
  • What are your goals, and how will you measure success?
    • Take the time to understand the purpose of each social media KPI, and what actionable steps can be taken from the data.
    • Engagement data is generally more actionable than impression data.

Setting a Social Media Strategy

Consider the following steps when creating your social media strategy:

Listen: Use social listening practices to learn more about your audiences and ensure you’re posting relevant content. You can also learn more about the current conversation surrounding the University.

Plan: Keep a social media editorial calendar to ensure consistent and planned content for each week. Connect with other University communicators to share content across audiences.

React: Ensure timely content by tapping into trending topics, timely news stories, and events. Don’t be afraid to reschedule your social calendar if things change (as they often do).

Engage: Social media is a conversation. Make sure you’re engaging with your audience. Provide customer service by answering questions, welcome campus visitors or event attendees, and use a friendly and conversational tone when appropriate.

Evaluate: Many social channels include free access to analytics and insights. You can use this information to measure success, and fine-tune your tactics. Keep in mind the following questions when evaluating posts with high or low engagement:

  • What type of media was used?
  • What time of day was it posted?
  • What event/news item did it tie into?

Creating Content for Social Media

Balance: Content should be balanced between

  • Promotion: News, events, deadlines, and reminders
  • Personality: School spirit, fun facts, welcoming and lighthearted content


  • Think about your audience(s):
  • Use words they understand/use
  • Frame messages by their need, not yours
  • Avoid acronyms that are not broadly understood
  • Be concise and make content easy to scan
  • Posts should have a conversational quality. Avoid promotional or gimmicky language.

Find the human aspect:

  • What would make this interesting or inspiring to our audience?
  • Where can you infuse personality or emotion?
  • Avoid the temptation to simply reuse language from other marketing efforts (for example, a press release), as sometimes this language will not have enough of an emotional appeal for social media.

Be visual:

  • Use photos, video, and graphic elements to make your content stand out

Effective use of hashtags:

  • Use hashtags to help connect your posts to a larger conversation
    • UMN-specific: #UMNdriven, #UMNproud
    • Weekly trends: #MotivationMonday, #TBT, #TriviaThursday
    • Trending hashtags

Related Resources