1. Get approval of your department head AND approval from the UTC social media coordinator.
Before creating a social media page or profile for your university department, talk with your supervisor for approval and to ensure that a page does not already exist for your department. After obtaining supervisor approval, complete the Social Media application form.
2. Choose a leader.
Determine who will be the primary person responsible for updating and monitoring your social media presence. Ensure the person has time to check in on your accounts at least once a day, five times a week. This does not need to take up a significant amount of time, but successful social media accounts are updated frequently, have consistent branding and messaging, enable easy engagement with users and adjust in response to timely events and problems.
In addition, it is also essential to assign and train a backup for your accounts. Many departments find that it is effective to have a team of people to manage all their social media accounts and helps with employee turnover when a new leader needs to be assigned.
3. Set goals in advance.
Before jumping into social media for your unit, know what you want to accomplish. Using social media merely for the sake of resharing email blasts is ineffective and counterproductive. Setting goals will help you choose appropriate tools, create relevant content and understand how to reach your audience. Ask yourself how do you and your team measure success or lack thereof with the following questions:
- Are we looking for better communication with prospective students?
- Increasing traffic to our website?
- Creating a new network of colleagues?
- You should also determine how you will measure your success in achieving these goals.
4. Be strategic.
The more work you do before you launch your social media presence, the more likely you are to be successful on social platforms. Define what you hope to accomplish, with whom you wish to engage, content you wish to share first, and then begin exploring social media tools. If you need additional help or aren't sure if an idea is the right one, contact the Division of Communications and Marketing for help.
5. Choose your tool and start small.
Each platform takes time, unless you have a full-time dedicated social media leader. Be realistic about what you can handle. Perhaps you and your office have creative talent and making short-form videos on TikTok can be informative and fun. You may find the short, 280-character bursts of tweets on Twitter are a good fit for your goals. Your target audience may be interested in photo collages like Instagram. Or you may have photos, videos and a well-developed community that would be best-served by a Facebook fan page. Don't try to do it all at once. Choose a tool that best meets your goals and focus on building a strong presence. Once you have one or two tools in place, it's easier to expand your offerings as needed.
6. Choose a proper name and use proper profile picture.
Create an account name that clearly and concisely identifies your program and its affiliation with UTC. Avoid identifying yourself simply as "UTC," or "The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga," as that implies you are speaking for the entire institution. A page, account or profile name are all the same on social media. In most cases, you can spell out your department’s name in full, however, the handle used to ‘tag’ yourself needs to be concise and unique. For example, our @utchattanooga handle is recognizable and short but, @theuniversityoftennesseeatchattanooga is a ‘mouthful’ and most sites would not allow due to length. Your account’s name is all about being quickly and easily discovered and recognized. Speaking of which, your profile picture, also known as ‘pfp’ for short, or icon, for your accounts need to be recognized as a UTC entity. Graphic icons/avatars for UTC-affiliated accounts out be reviewed and approved by Creative Services prior to use. You are allowed to use other pfp or icons outside the official UTC branding, but you are not allowed to alter or reformat the Power C or existing brand work to your page.
7. Watch, listen, learn.
All social media platforms have their own standards, styles, audience behavior and expectations. Become a consumer of social media before you are a producer. By becoming a consumer of social media before you are a producer, you will learn how these communities consume content, and what other organizations are talking about. Spending time on this step will help you better plan your voice's unique contribution.
8. Build a foundation.
Build your Twitter, Instagram, TikTok account, LinkedIn or Facebook page and plan to spend several weeks populating it, sharing it with a small group who can provide feedback. Have account(s) up and running well before you plan to publicly announce them so that you can become comfortable maintaining them and so that initial users find and can engage with plenty of content.
You're ready to communicate. Use traditional means, such as email lists to notify your audiences of your social media presence. Also, notify others on social media with similar interests that your account is live. Include easy-to-find links to your social media presence on your department’s website. If necessary, reach out to our web team for help making your social media accounts visible from your website.
10. Adapt and Adjust.
Once your account is live, you’ll see that some content is popular, some is ignored, and some is just plain cumbersome. All social media platforms come with easy-to-use tracking tools that show which posts are viewed and shared most and which generate comments. Be prepared to re-align your strategy in response to who is viewing your site, when they are viewing and how they do so. Do not fear change in approach or having a small engagement in the beginning. It takes time to establish and grow an online community.