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Appendix G: Creating an Instagram account

Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform that, in terms of followers, gives Facebook and Twitter a run for their money – especially in the under-25 demographic (i.e. college students and prospective students). This is where much of a university’s target audience is spending their online time, so it may be tempting to set up an account to reach them. However – and this may sound obvious – only consider setting up an Instagram account if you have a plethora of images to share.

Before creating an Instagram 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 an account for Electrical Engineering, talk with the School of Engineering about having them share your images on their Instagram account. You’ll reach a much larger audience.
  • Do you have enough images to share? Do you have a plan for creating and taking images? You should plan to update your Instagram once or twice a week, if not more often.


  • Include a brief descriptive text about your department or program, and a link to your Web site. Consider including your personal Instagram handle, so that your followers will know who does the posting for that account. A name helps to personalize the account.
  • When choosing your username, remember that this will become part of your Instagram address and also will be how you are identified when posting and responding to posts. Choose a username that clearly identifies your department or program. Examples: VUEngineering, VanderbiltAlumni, 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.
  • For your 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
  • Seek out other Vanderbilt accounts, other accounts for people and programs in your field, and others who are posting about keywords and hashtags that are relevant to your interests. Like, share and respond to these posts to begin building your online network.
  • Start posting! Remember, Instagram, like all social media, is a conversation, not a megaphone.
  • Remember, Instagram posts can only be made from a smartphone. If you have a personal Instagram account and are switching between the two, make sure to check which account you are logged into before posting personal photos.
  • Get our attention: To reach a larger audience, including the main Vanderbilt account, tag your photos #vandygram.
  • Websites such as Iconosquare are very helpful in seeing your Instagrams and replies.
  • You can share other people’s photos through apps such as Repost – they allow you to regram the photos while giving proper credit to the original poster.
  • Social media sites such as Hootsuite have tips on how to build your audience and other helpful advice – follow them! Hootsuite also has a scheduling feature for Instagram, but it cannot post for you. Instead, it sends push notifications to your smartphone at an appointed time to remind you to post.