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Considering a department social media account

Social media platforms are typically easy and often free to set up and use. However, increasingly, social media platforms such as Facebook require paid advertising for successful business use.

A successful social media strategy always requires resources -- research, clearly outlined goals and objectives, smart tactics and dedicated effort. Often, the most effective social media strategy will be to take advantage of existing channels and conversations rather than trying to create a new one.

If you think participation in social media might be helpful for your department, first think about these questions:

What would you like to accomplish?

Think about why you want to engage social media users. Even more important, consider why they would want to engage with you.

If you are an academic department representative or physician/facutly member and your goal is being a thought leader or raising visibility and developing the reputation among peers, referring providers and potential trainees, Twitter is probably your best bet. Participation in #medtwitter can be an effective strategy to meet these goals.

If you want to promote an event or share one-time news from your department, submitting content for VUMC's existing social media sites is probably a better choice for you. Social media channels such as those on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, require daily work to grow and cultivate an audience. They are not useful for one-time events and are not a short-term approach.

If you wish to market clinical services to patients, we'll connect you to the marketing representative who works with your area. Social media is most effective for marketing if it is one component of a well-designed and integrated marketing plan. 

If you want to recruit participants for a clinical study, we can provide recommendations, including paid Facebook advertising. Learn more here

What is your message?

This is a trick question. Social media is all about connecting, not pushing a message. To be a good participant, you must first be a good listener. The online community will tell you what they want to hear from you. Your content should be relevant, meaningful and interesting to from your audience's perspective. Social media is not a place simply to talk or brag about yourself (Vanderbilt).

Who will manage and moderate the account?

Success at social media takes not only time and strategy, but it often takes an outgoing personality. Because these accounts represent VUMC in a public way, it requires someone with sound judgment. It also requires time to be successful, so you need your supervisor's support to spend part of your work time publishing content and moderating comments and messages. You must have personal or professional experience with social media before hosting an account on behalf of VUMC. 

How will the social media activity you are considering serve Vanderbilt University Medical Center's business objectives?

Any activity in social media on behalf of VUMC should directly and measurably align with VUMCs strategic mission and priorities. You must have clearly defined business objectives to get approval for an account. It is not enough to want to "just get our name out there." 

How do I get started?

According to the social media policy, any social media accounts representing Vanderbilt University Medical Center or any of its components must be developed in consultation with and reviewed and approved by the VUMC Strategic Marketing Department.

Important note: Use of the Vanderbilt name and its variations and marks is subject to trademark rules so no account should be created using Vanderbilt, VU, VUMC, variations of those or the "oak-leaf V" graphic mark without prior approval.

You may begin the process by requesting a consultation.

The social media team will contact you to review your application, ask you more about your business objectives, measurable goals and monitoring plan. The application is then reviewed by the social media governance committee and may be approved, approved with changes or declined with other recommendations. This approval is pending review and approval by the VU trademarks office.

What's next?

Approved VUMC social media accounts require two designated moderators, who sign a moderator agreement that specifies terms and conditions for posting content and moderating comments. Sign on information must be shared with the social media team in Strategic Marketing to assure access in emergencies or if a moderator leaves the employ of VUMC without transition.

Once we have VU Trademarks approval and the signed moderator agreement on file, you are ready to start posting.

Moderator agreements are renewed annually, and accounts are reviewed to assure that they are successfully meeting objectives and have not grown stagnant. We reserve the right to delete accounts deemed to be inactive or not meeting the policy or goals established for the account.