Getting Started

1. Get approval of your department head or manager AND approval from the 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 approval, complete the Social Media application form.

2. Set goals in advance.

Before jumping in to social media for your department, program or office, decide what you want to accomplish. Participating in social media merely for the sake of doing it is ineffective and counterproductive. Setting goals will help you choose appropriate tools, create relevant content and understand the best way to reach your target audience. You should also determine ways to measure your success in achieving these goals.

3. Choose a leader.

Determine who will be the primary person responsible for updating and monitoring your social media presence. Ensure they have the time to check in on your accounts at least once a day. This does not need to take up a significant amount of time, but successful social media sites are updated frequently, enable easy engagement with viewers and adjust in response to timely events and problems.

In addition, it's important to assign and train a backup for this person. Many departments that it is effective to have a team of people to manage all their social media accounts.

4. Be strategic.

The more work you do before you launch your social media presence, the more likely you are to be successful social. 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. For help thinking through a strategy for social media, see the worksheet in Appendix A. If you need additional help or aren't sure if an idea is the right one, don't hesitate to contact the Office of Communications and Marketing for help.

5. Watch, listen, learn.

All social media platforms have their own standards, styles 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 work, the content of most interest and what other organizations are talking about. Spending time on this step will help you better plan your voice's unique contribution.

6. Choose your tool, and start small.

You may find the short, 280-character bursts of tweets on Twitter are a good fit for your goals. 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 tool in place, it's easier to expand your offerings as needed.

7. Choose a good name.

Create a profile name that clearly and concisely identifies your program and its affiliation with UTC. Avoid identifying yourself simply as "UT," "UTC," or "The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga," as that implies you are speaking for the entire institution.

8. Build a foundation.

Build your blog, Twitter stream, Flickr profile, Facebook page or whatever you choose and spend time populating it for several weeks, sharing it with a small group who can provide feedback. Have the site up and running well before you plan to publicly announce it so you can become comfortable maintaining it and so that the site has plenty of content for initial users.

9. Launch.

You're ready to communicate! Use traditional means, such as email lists and notices on your website, to notify your audiences of your social media presence. Also, notify others on social media with similar interests that your site is live. One of the best ways to do this is by linking to these sites or following their accounts from yours and mentioning them in your posts. Include easy-to-find links to your social media presence on your website.

10. Adapt and Adjust.

Once your account is live, you will find some content is popular, some is ignored and some is just plain cumbersome. All social media tools come with easy-to-use tracking tools, so you can see 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 and how they do so.