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Considering social media for your department

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

If you want to promote an event or share news about your department, submitting content for VUMCs existing social media sites might be a better choice for you. Social media outposts such as those on Facebook and Twitter require daily maintenance and a desire to engage with others. They are not useful for one-time events and are not a short-term approach.

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).

Do you have what it takes?

To be successful at social media takes not only time and strategy, but it often takes an outgoing personality. If you've been described as a people person or friendly, you may have what it takes. Or you may be a connector someone who enjoys making connections and providing helpful information. In any case, you'll must have personal or professional experience with social media before hosting an account on behalf of VUMC.

How is this in the best interest of Vanderbilt University Medical Center?

Any activity in social media on behalf of Vanderbilt should directly and measurably align with VUMCs strategic mission and priorities.

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 or reviewed and approved by the VUMC Strategic Marketing Department. This process begins by understanding your business objectives for the account, which must align with the medical centers missions in education, research and patient care. You may begin the process by requesting a consultation.

Approved VUMC social media accounts require at least one designated moderator, who signs a moderator agreement that specifies terms and conditions for posting content and moderating comments. Moderator agreements are renewed annually, and accounts are subject to review to assure that they are successfully meeting objectives and have not grown stagnant.

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.