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Social Media

Social media is one of the most popular and important ways we talk to our audiences. Whether we are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another channel, our voice should always be approachable, conversational, and confident.

We use a different tone of voice when we're talking to our boss than we do with our best friend. On social media, we need to identify our audience and communicate with them in the appropriate tone.

Our tone changes depending on the channel. For example, on LinkedIn we use slightly more formal language to align with the professional nature of that platform. On the other hand, on Instagram it’s appropriate to use a less formal tone and include emojis.

LinkedIn example: We have been welcoming Redbirds to campus all week long. Take a minute to greet our new and returning students! #RedbirdMoveIn

Instagram example: Make way, everyone! Our Redbirds are moving back home ❤

(For more information about social media platforms and the audiences they serve, visit our social media guidelines)

Whatever platform you're using, follow these tips to meet University voice and tone guidelines.

Informative, not overwhelming

An informative tone helps your followers quickly digest the information you're communicating. An overwhelming tone can confuse your audience and make them scroll right by your content.

Informative and engaging: From @ISUTechzone on Twitter: Happy first day of classes, Redbirds! Come by and see us on the first floor of the Bone Student Center if you need any tech help or items that will help your first week of classes go more smoothly!

Overwhelming: .@ISUTechZone provides technical equipment to faculty, staff, and students at Illinois State University. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. We are located in the Bone Student Center on the first floor near the Braden Auditorium.

Concise, not wordy

The fewer words you can use to get your point across, the more confident you will sound in your writing. Avoid elaborate words when there is a simpler alternative.

Aim for shorter, catchier posts. Your post should accentuate the content you are sharing, not replace it. In most cases, if your post is longer than a couple of sentences or triggers a “read more” prompt, revise it.

Concise: From @IllinoisStateU: #RedbirdFamily Weekend will feature unbelievable magic and hysterical offbeat shenanigans from trickster @carbonaro!

Wordy: Trickster Michael Carbonaro will perform at Illinois State University during Family Weekend on October 1 at Braden Auditorium. He’s best known for his tv series The Carbonaro Effect. Get your tickets by clicking the link.

Professional, not stuffy

Using jargon and writing in an academic tone or in an overly professional manner makes it harder to connect with your followers.

Professional: Career Services offers many ways for our Redbirds to gain real-world experience. Learn more about on-campus internships from some of our students.

Stuffy: Career Services offers resume review, interview practice, workshops, and networking opportunities to help students build the confidence and skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace. These services help Illinois State students acquire internships, professional practice, and practicum placements.

Confident, not arrogant

Let the facts speak for themselves. Don’t oversell or sound boastful when promoting the University.

Confident: It's no wonder the University's hometown was ranked in the top 100 list of best places to live in the United States. This is HOME.

Arrogant: It’s no wonder the University’s hometown was ranked in the top 100 list of best places to live in the United States. Bloomington-Normal is the best.

Tips for Sounding Confident

Be definite.

Writing in a confident tone builds credibility and helps readers trust the information you're providing.

Avoid common hedge words, like:

  • Generally
  • Most likely
  • Probably
  • Typically
  • Usually

Avoid politeness.

Using words like "sorry" and "please" makes you sound less confident. You can still sound friendly and conversational without common polite words.

Engaging, not impersonal

Invite users to engage and interact with your channel. Don’t be afraid to ask users to open a story, comment, watch a video, or share it with your friends. Include a call to action when possible.

Engaging: From @IllinoisStateU: This post is dedicated to all our Redbird parents on #NationalParentsDay—you make our #RedbirdFamily stronger. Tag a student or parent in the comments to give them a shoutout.

Unengaging: Dedicating this post to all our Redbird families on #NationalParentsDay.

Tips for Sounding Engaging

Accessibility matters.

Even a perfect post will fall short if your audience can’t engage with it. Follow the University’s guide on accessible social media and make content that’s accessible to all.

Avoid using too many hashtags or handles.

Most of the time, one or two hashtags are sufficient to join the conversation around a topic. Using too many hashtags can make your post look like spam.

Be careful with slang.

All of our channels should connect with students but shouldn’t rely too heavily on the latest trends to do so. Slang can come off as inauthentic and may be inappropriate.