Social media can give researchers a wonderful opportunity to share their scholarship, exchange ideas with their peers, and connect with collaborators, but it can also be a big distraction. Here are some tips for how researchers can use social media in productive ways.
Be clear about why you’re on social media
Social media can be a giant time suck, and everyone knows researchers don’t have lots of time to spare. Take a moment to identify how social media use can help supplement or replace ways that you currently do to promote your research.
Promote your own work
Don’t be shy! You are your own best advocate. Promoting your work will help disseminate it to a wider audience. No one can cite your work if they don’t know about it.
Post and post again
Don’t be afraid to repost your good news. Social media posts have a very short shelf life, and reposting will help them reach a larger audience and increase engagement.
Find your community
Poke around the platform and see if people in your field are using a hashtag to identify themselves and their fields. Use that hashtag in your posts to let them know that you are also in that field to help you get more followers and find new people to follow.
Use hashtags, but use them #wisely
Hashtags will pop up for conferences and current events and using them when you post about those subjects will help people find you. There is no need to use a hashtag for common words like #science, for instance. Hashtags can clutter up your post, and common words won’t add to your levels of engagement.
Do use # and @ to include people in your post (peers, funders, etc.) who helped you with your research.
Using graphics and photos in your posts will help increase the impact of your posts, and consequently increase engagement.
Have a plan for controversial topics
Tweeting about controversial topics may be unavoidable, depending on your area of research. But go into it with a clear plan of how you’ll deal with any blowback or negative attention you receive online.
Make sure you’re on the right platform
There are many different platforms (Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram), and their audiences and reach are very different. Here are two platforms that are particularly good for researchers:
Many researchers, journalists, journals and funding institutions are on Twitter. Many of your colleagues at UVA are on Twitter, as well as journalists, journals, funding institutions, and other researchers.
Here are some tips on sharing your research on Twitter:
LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals (most users have advanced degrees), and some researchers feel more comfortable sharing their work there.