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Steps to Creating Your Account

1. Secure the approval of your department head or manager. If you wish to create a social media page or profile for your department, secure the approval of your senior manager. VUMC employees must submit their proposal to VUMC Marketing.

2. Define your goals. Before jumping into social media for your department, program or office, spend time determining what you want to accomplish. Understanding this will help you choose the appropriate tool or tools, create relevant content and understand the best way to reach your target audience. After you’ve thought about your content and goals, ask yourself: Can we reach our goals and our target audience through an already established social media presence? For example, if you’re associated with the School of Engineering, would a tweet by @VUEngineering suffice?

3. Identify a coordinator. Determine who will be the primary person responsible for updating and monitoring your site. Ensure they have the time to check in on the site at least once a day. This does not need to take up a significant amount of time, but successful social media sites are updated frequently, enable easy engagement with visitors and adjust in response to timely events and problems. Assign and train a backup for this person. Note: At least one of these people should be a full-time staff member, not a student.

4. Create a strategy. The more work you do on the front end, the more likely you are to create a successful social media presence. Define what you hope to accomplish, with whom you wish to engage, and what content you wish to share first, and then begin exploring social media tools.

5. Listen. All social media platforms have their own standards, styles and expectations. By becoming a consumer of social media well before you become a producer, you will learn how these communities work, what content is of most interest, what other organizations are talking about your topic, etc. Follow relevant groups and people. Spending a good amount of time on this step will help you better plan what unique contribution your voice can have.

6. Choose your tool. After listening, you may find the short, 280-character bursts of Twitter are a good fit for your goals. Or you may have videos and a well-developed community that would be best shared via a Facebook page, or access to great images that would do well on Instagram. Do not try to do it all at once – choose a tool that will best meet your goals and reach your audience, then focus on building a strong presence.

7. Create your profile. Create a profile name that clearly and concisely identifies your program and its Vanderbilt affiliation. Do not identify yourself simply as “Vanderbilt,” as that implies you are speaking for the entire institution. For Twitter, keep your name brief; you’ll need the characters. Do not use the black and gold V for your profile picture - that's reserved for the "big VU" accounts. In your Bio/About section, link to your website. In your Facebook About section, include a comment and spam policy. You can link to the University’s comment policy.

8. Experiment. Build out your Twitter stream, Facebook page or whatever you choose and spend time populating it for several weeks, sharing it with a small group who can provide comments. Have the site up and running well before you plan to launch it so you can become comfortable with maintaining it.

9. Launch. You’re ready to communicate! Use traditional means, such as email lists, printed materials and your website, to notify your potential audiences that you have a social media presence. Also, notify others with social media presences and similar interests that your channel is live – one of the best ways to do this is by linking to these sites from yours and mentioning them in your posts. Include easy-to-find links to your social media presence on your website.

10. Adjust. Once your site is up and running, you will find some content is popular, some is ignored, and some is just plain cumbersome. All social media tools come with easy-to-use tracking tools, so you can see which posts are viewed and shared most, which generate comments, etc. Be prepared to re-align your strategy in response to who is viewing your site and how they are doing so.

11. Tell us about it! Vanderbilt has a broad audience of students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, sports fans and more keeping in touch with the university via social media. Let us know what you are doing so we can help expand your reach by sharing it with these individuals, and also to make sure we are aware of the news and developments you are sharing with your audiences. We can all learn from each other, but it’s easy to slip into a vacuum when working on your own. Tell us about your social media account so that we can include it in our directory.