Creating a social media presence

Do you need a social media channel?

Social media is a great way to connect to people and spread the word about your community. However, there are instances where you should not set up a social media channel. The University has a large communications community, including internal mailing, a Staff Gateway, and college and departmental screens.

Remember, there are lots of ways to reach your audience effectively and quickly – if you’re unsure about the answers to any of the below, it may not be the right time for you to set up a brand new channel.

Expand All

  • Do you have a strategy?
  • Do you have a content plan?
  • Have you outlined your audience and key objectives for this message?
  • Do you have a brand identity?
  • Have you decided on aesthetics and imagery?
  • Have you got an appropriate logo, background image or video, and email address to link the account to?
  • Have you got a bio, a link and a clear management structure?
  • Where are your audience?
  • Are they using social media to interact with other similar messages?
  • Is there a demand for you to provide messaging in this way?
  • Will you need to pay to reach an appropriate audience?
  • Do you have a social media-experienced employee?
  • If not, are you able to arrange appropriate internal and external training for them?
  • Does anyone have enough time to collect, produce and manage a content schedule?
  • Does anyone have time to dedicate to community management?
  • Does anyone have the time, skill and expertise to manage channels effectively?
  • Is anyone able to dedicate time to crafting well-written, clearly presented information and visuals that need to be explained in a specific way?
  • Do you have time to report and analyse stats, as well as learn from the data and implement it?
  • Is there a larger channel (your department or college) with a relevant audience you can piggy back off?
  • Will your audience follow a new channel? Are you able to maintain this well to ensure they keep following?
  • Can you establish a clear identity for your channel and explain through output and management how it differs from other, similar channels?
Managing an audience

There are five key things to remember when thinking about your audience and the content they will respond to:

Expand All

Knowing your audience location can enable you to keep up with trends, engage with them topically, and generally tailor your content.

Knowing this offers you content tailoring opportunities, trend insights and topical engagement opportunities. It also allows you to align your tone of voice and engagement tactics with what they might find attractive – and in a worst-case scenario, offensive.

Take note of which content type is most engaging to your audience. You can do this through in-platform reporting, or external tools (more information on that in the tools page).

Not everything you produce is going to be a social media-sensation. Take note of what doesn’t work and consider why. Sometimes important, institutional messages fall flat, look at what works and see if you can tailor that content that way instead.

Look at your analytics and assess what your key messages are and what type of content is helping to support them. You can use this as a guide for what you create in the future.


Expand All

Consider the following when you are planning content. Ensure you know the answer to all of them – this will allow you to shape your content plan:

  • How easy will this piece of content be to produce?
  • What’s the time/effort and outcome balance?
  • Is this what your audience might connect with? Is this what they want?
  • Is this topical? Is it relevant?
  • Have all angles been covered?
  • Can I create engaging copy from what’s provided?
  • Is there existing imagery and video? How easy will these be to produce if not?

Clear copy

This is especially important when promoting an event or a call to action. Never rely on users clicking a link you have provided. Include as much relevant information as you can in the limited copy you have available.


If you’re including a link make sure you shorten it to save characters and also track clicks. You can personalise links with different tools so they look neat. Links can be temperamental when you schedule in through tools – for example, YouTube links might not display below the copy as a preview, so always check.


The image or video attached to your post will be the thing that sells it, so think carefully about what is accompanying your copy and why. High quality doesn’t mean professional – clear, well-lit phone photos work well. Ensure all imagery is in focus, good quality and the correct format. The more personal the image the better.


Video watch time on social is short, but video production can take a long time. Always consider whether video is the best supporting asset for your post. Square video (1:1) can be hosted on all channels apart from YouTube. Video specifications for channels are as follows:


  • Length: 2 minutes, 20 seconds max
  • Best size: 1080px x 1080px (1:1)


  • Length: 45 minutes max
  • Best size: 1080px x 1080px (1:1)


  • Length: 10 minutes max
  • Best size: 1080px x 1080px (1:1)

Instagram Feed

  • Length: 1-minute max
  • Best size: 1080px x 1080px (1:1)

Instagram Stories

  • Length: 15 seconds max (longer uploads will be divided into 15 second uploads which will play back to back)
  • Best size: 1080px x 1920px (9:16)

Instagram TV

  • Best size: 1080px x 1920px (9:16)

Consider unusual routes

Don’t just focus on students, you can focus on support staff, general staff and researchers as well. If you want to prove your area is a cohesive, supportive one, then show everyone who helps bring it together.

Choose your channel

Maybe this is a great story to tell on one channel, but not on another. That’s ok – keep it specific or repurpose the content to fit the tone of environment of the channel.

Choose your tone

Always be friendly, helpful and informative – and don’t worry about cracking the odd joke - people want to know there are real-life humans here. If you encounter problematic comments address the concern and try and move the conversation offline by referring the user to a generic inbox.

Avoid the terminology trap

Write so anyone can understand it (unless you run a particularly niche/research-led channel). Oxford is a world-leading research facility and a world-leading acronym generator. For example, JCR and MCR make sense to you, but they won’t to others and can be alienating. If you feel you can’t avoid using them then explain what they are as simply as possible so this language doesn’t appear threatening.

The three key things to remember here, are community, clarity and creativity:


We want to show that diversity isn’t just about getting people through the door, we also want to show it is about the communities that exist here. There is strength in numbers when it comes to robust storytelling – when you have multiple voices corroborating the same story it gives strength to the content.

Do you work in a department with staff, students, researchers, cleaners and cooks? Show all of those people and their stories to demonstrate how they make your area unique.


Be open minded when producing content, but keep in mind what you want the overarching message to be. Speak to lots of different people with lots of different opinions to think about the best way to approach the narrative. The finished narrative is often quite different from the concept you had, but will likely meet your objective.


Consider diversity of experience or different barriers to entry people may have faced. The key is to be able to showcase those who your audience can identify with, in whatever form that takes. Also remember that data needs a narrative. If you are given data to present, find a narrative to wrap around it.

Important things to remember and ask yourself

  • Who is this for?
    • Who does this concern?
    • Who do you want to see this content?
  • Why are you promoting this?
    • Why is it relevant?
    • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Where is this taking place?
    • Where did it happen?
    • Is it relevant?
  • When is it taking place?
    • Who is it relevant to?
  • What is it?
    • Is it important and does it play into your strategy and goals?

Creating content takes a while, so don’t be shy of repurposing content. However, there are a few key things to keep in mind:


  • Is it still topical?
  • Has anything changed?
  • Are there new hooks and angles you can use?
  • What are your priorities/key messages?
  • Did the content perform particularly well in conveying them?

When you want to repurpose content you should consider

  • Changing the imagery
  • Changing the copy
  • Offering a reflection piece
  • Retweeting your best-performing pieces of content with a comment
  • Human story content, which has more longevity due to multiple angles
  • Did it feature lots of different people? Break it up and share it that way
  • Can you contact the people involved easily? Ask them to comment on what they’re up to now
  • Can you scatter content throughout the year?

Providing a link is usually not enough to encourage someone to share your content. Try the following to increase the chance your content will be shared by others from around UO:

Prove a connection

Who is this relevant to? Check departments, colleges, students etc. for an affiliation.

Prove a value

Is this interesting for their audiences? Why? Are there any key themes or people you can pull out to prove relevance?

Prove a well-presented piece of content

Ensure imagery is good, copy is clear, it is packed with necessary information and it highlights something positive.

Present a package for sharing

Either share the social media-ready copy and image, or send a link to a retweet.