Social Media Handbook
How Vanderbilt is Using Social Media
Social media enables the university to share what is happening on campus with the world, but more importantly, lets us hear directly and immediately from students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, fans and friends about what is important to them. This “conversation” is what makes social media so different from traditional forms of institutional communication.
Vanderbilt has three main presences: The University, the Medical Center and Athletics. See a full list of VUMC social networks and a full list of Athletics social networks. Below is information specific to the University.
Social Goals and Strategies
1. Share Vanderbilt’s best content to raise brand awareness. Our goal is to increase awareness of Vanderbilt University among various audiences that include prospective students, current students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and the Nashville community. We leverage our social media platforms to introduce/reintroduce Vanderbilt to our audiences, in order to better engage with them via social media. The best way to get our audiences to engage with us is to time our content right. Whether it’s sharing news about a student created coffee app on National Coffee Day, or giving our Commodores a pre- or post-game “Anchor Down” our best preforming posts are timed carefully in conjunction with what’s going on in our community, our country and our world. In addition, all of our efforts are designed to support the initiatives and vision of the Academic Strategic Plan.
2. Listen, engage and learn. Our goal is to be aware of the sentiment towards the Vanderbilt name and brand, and try to positively influence it. We constantly track conversations about Vanderbilt, listen and respond as needed. We strive to provide customer service and also participate in these conversions by responding and sharing compelling stories that engage our audience. We also whenever possible elevate our community’s posts about the university using the big channels, thereby giving them additional recognition and also sharing with our audiences high-quality user-generated content. We analyze previous conversions and reevaluate to improve future communications.
3. Tell the Vanderbilt Story. Our goal is to promote what sets Vanderbilt apart, and to encourage fans to become brand ambassadors. That is why we share human interest stories about our students, faculty, staff and alumni. We keep our tone mostly light-hearted and post content that shows the Vanderbilt personality. Because we are located in Nashville, America’s “It City,” we also share highlights from our booming hometown. Some of our best stories/posts come from watching what our students do on their own. That is why we encourage our community to use our branded hashtags such as #vandygram, #myVanderbilt and #VU2016, #VU2020.
4. Act as “One Vanderbilt.” One of Vanderbilt’s strengths is its size: ten outstanding schools and colleges all connected by a compact central campus. Our goal is to work together and give our social media content maximum effectiveness. That is why @VanderbiltU often retweets and reposts content from our students, staff, alumni and other university accounts. See a list of all affiliated University accounts.
5. Share Research. Our goal is to position Vanderbilt as a leading research institution among its peers by sharing research stories. That is why we share videos, experts in the news, undergraduate research stories, faculty profiles, awards and recognitions, and interdisciplinary news in order to highlight the great work that’s going on at our university.
6. Communicate in a Crisis. We use social media platforms to ensure that emergency communications reach our community in the quickest way possible. We convey information to our students, faculty, staff and community during an active emergency, provide information in the aftermath of an emergency, and to serve in conjunction with texts, alerts and website information. We specifically use Twitter and Facebook to convey real-time information directly from the appropriate sources. We also use social media to monitor conversations about controversies and crises and use that information to inform our overall communications strategy in relation to those events and topics.
Vanderbilt has a presence on 11 social media platforms that reach over a quarter of a million people. Here you’ll find where we are, what we do, and why we do it.
Facebook 106,000+ likes
Our Facebook page has the largest following of any of our networks. Our best engagements come from content that contains compelling imagery or video, is time sensitive, and is truly reflective of our “voice.” Athletics, campus imagery, and timely research news stories are some of our most popular post topics.
Twitter 40,000+ followers
@VanderbiltU focuses on sharing research news and promoting information relevant to the larger Vanderbilt and Nashville communities. In addition, we strive to interact with our audiences and encourage conversations. All of the university’s News stories now feature sharelines, to make sharing easier for all users. We run a series of Question & Answer discussions with Vanderbilt experts via Twitter (#AskVU) in order to encourage continued conversations with our audiences, and position Vanderbilt as a leading research institution.
Instagram 29,000+ followers
Instagram is the way we share a visual day-to-day of what it’s like on campus. The #vandygram hashtag provides a way for our users to share photo and video content with us. Whether it’s a photo of your pet sporting the latest Vanderbilt gear or a selfie flashing the ubiquitous thumb-and-forefingers “Go VU” sign, share your content and use #vandygram. We also have a #vandygram roundup of our favorite posts on the Get Social website.
YouTube 15,000+ subscribers
With nearly 6 million views, YouTube.com/Vanderbilt is home to all official Vanderbilt University videos. Each of our colleges has its own playlist, within our channel. YouTube populates the VUCast section on the main university News site.
LinkedIn 102,000+ connections
Vanderbilt’s LinkedIn page is connected to over 85,000 students and alumni. Our follower count has grown by almost 10 percent in the last year. We focus on major news and research about big initiatives and events happening at Vanderbilt. Our LinkedIn page is a valuable place for students and alumni to connect and converse, especially on our featured alumni group which boasts over 17,000 members.
Tumblr 2,600+ followers
Our Tumblr was launched in 2014 as a way to communicate the Vanderbilt story to an audience typically not reached by Twitter and Facebook: prospective and current students, and young alumni. Because Tumblr is such a highly visual medium, our main source of content is Vanderbilt’s Instagram account, but also includes news releases, university magazine stories and other content that we feel may appeal to our young audience. We also try to post at least one “fun” post per week, written by News and Communications’ student worker, that communicates lighthearted, relatable slices of campus life that strengthens our