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Social Media Handbook

Appendix D: Creating a Twitter Profile

With its 140-character updates, Twitter is a great way to get timely information out to your audiences. More importantly, with over 220 millions users, it’s an excellent way to engage with and hear from those with similar interests. New to Twitter? Check out this Twitter Bootcamp.

Before creating a Twitter account:

  • Make sure there isn’t already an account for your department or group.
  • Consider using a larger umbrella group to get your message out. For example, rather than creating a Twitter account for Electrical Engineering, talk with the School of Engineering about having them tweet your messages. You’ll reach a much larger audience.


  • When choosing your username, remember that this will become part of your Twitter address and also will be how you are identified when tweeting and responding to tweets. Choose a username that clearly identifies your department or program. Examples: VUEngineering, VanderbiltAlum, etc.
  • For email, use a group mailbox that several members of your department or program can check. Do not use your personal email address. If your department does not have a group mailbox, consider creating a departmental gmail account and sharing the password.
  • Include a brief descriptive text about your department or program and a link to your Web site. Consider including your personal Twitter handle, so that your followers will know who does the tweeting for that account. A name helps to personalize the account.
  • For a profile picture, do not use the black and gold V; instead, the university has created a family of icons that can be used and adapted for individual schools, colleges and programs – please contact the Office of University Web Communications for assistance in customizing those icons. If you do not wish to use these icons and wish to use the Vanderbilt logo or any variation of it, contact Maggie Harris in the Office of Trademark Licensing at 3-7292 or
  • Header photos have recommended dimensions of 1500×500 pixels. The Vanderbilt Flickr page has plenty of campus photography options you can choose from to customize your page. Alternatively, you can create your own header photo.
  • Use Twitter’s internal guide for customizing your profile.
  • Before you start tweeting, build the list of those you will be following. Seek out other Vanderbilt accounts, other accounts for people and programs in your field, and others who are tweeting about keywords that are relevant to your interests. Read, retweet and respond to these tweets to begin building your online network.
  • Start tweeting! Remember, Twitter is a conversation, not a megaphone. Use yours not only to share interesting news and information about your program, but to share news from other sources, to respond to and ask questions and to get to know your audiences better.
  • #hashtag: Hashtags can be a great way to join, start or monitor conversations around a specific topic. Before creating one, do a search to see if another group is already using it. Use only one hashtag per event/discussion. If you do promote a hashtag, you need to monitor its usage and respond quickly; creating a hashtag without monitoring it is a bit like promoting your department phone number and then never answering when the phone rings.
  • Get our attention: If you’d like the main Vanderbilt account to see your tweet, @ us – include @VanderbiltU in your tweet. When sharing images, tag them #vandygram.
  • Consider using an app. There are many free online applications that make updating and monitoring your Twitter presence much easier. Check out TweetDeck, Tweetie, HootSuite for starters.
  • There are some standards actions / conventions in Twitter with which you should become familiar, such as Reply, ReTweet, DM, #, etc. Familiarize yourself with these in our Twitter Bootcamp.