the biggest social media platforms on the planet: Twitter and Facebook.
Read the descriptions of each network below and choose the one you wish
to focus on today.
effusive in their praise: Twitter helps them stay on top of news in
their field, find new publications, get speaking and publishing
opportunities, communicate their research directly to the public, and–
perhaps most importantly–find a sense of community. In fact, among
researchers who use social media in a professional context, 83% declared Twitter to be the most useful tool they use.
we’ll explore Twitter’s usefulness for you. We’ll get you onto the site,
engaging others, finding the best sources of information in your field,
and measuring the diffusion of your research among other researchers
and the public.
- Step 1: Sign up
- Step 2: Personalize your account
- Step 3: Find people to follow
- Step 4: Making connections on Twitter
- Step 5: Basics of composing a tweet
- Step 6: Tweeting at conferences
- Step 7: Measuring your success
for academia because it doesn’t make sense to promote our work to our
friends and family, or to blur the boundaries between our personal and
make them, and Facebook allows us to make more personal connections to
colleagues than academic social networking sites do. And for those who
research topics that are the subject of public discussion–for example,
stem cell research, climate change, or Ebola–Facebook can be a good way
to share your research with audiences outside the Ivory Tower.
we'll take a “pros and cons” approach to exploring how Facebook might be
useful to your career.
- Reasons to use Facebook professionally
- Using Facebook to promote your publications, news, and awards
- Using Facebook to expand your network
- Reasons not to use Facebook professionally
- Best practices
Creating a Twitter account is simple:
- Go to Twitter.com and select Sign up in the top-right corner.
- On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to choose a handle–make it
similar or the same as any other handle you might use so that your
professional “brand” matches across platforms.
- Select some interests:
- Select the suggested users you're interested in following:
- Add a photo of yourself. Make it simple by adding the same photo
that you used for LinkedIn or your website; it’s easy change if you want
to add another photo in the future. Remember
from yesterday--if you don't yet have a good headshot or would like a
new one, Public Affairs offers free headshots to employees.
- Find people you know: connect your email account to import other contacts:
- And ta-da! Your profile is all setup; you just need to head over to your email to confirm your account.
stating your experience and research interests, university or
organizational affiliation, and a link to your blog, website, or faculty
To add your bio, click on your username beside your avatar and on
your profile page, click the “Edit Profile” button on the right-hand
side of your profile. There, you can add your bio and a link to your
blog or website.
Got your basic account set up? Now it’s time to start engaging with other scholars and the public.
lives on a daily basis. Your next step is to find users who share your
interests and to “follow” them to start receiving their updates.
people to follow via the “Who to Follow” panel on the right-hand side of
your profile, seen above. The more people you follow, the better
Twitter gets at finding you new suggestions. Click on the “View all”
link in the “Who to follow” panel to get a long list of suggested users.
Another great way to find people to follow is to search Twitter for
particular interests. From any page on Twitter, type a keyword into the
Search box at the upper right-hand corner of the page. On the results
page, click “Accounts” tab at the top of the page to narrow the results
to Twitter users who match your interest.
You can see here that we've searched for the term “libraries” and
narrowed the results to include Twitter users who match that term:
Read through the search results, keeping an eye out for familiar
names and interesting bios. When you find a user you want updates from,
click the “Follow” button to the right of their bio. Now, when you’re on
your homepage you’ll see their recent updates:
There are several other good ways to find people to follow:
- Take a look at who others are following (on their profile, click “Following”) and follow those users.
- Find curated Twitter Lists on the profiles of those you follow, like this list of NIH accounts or this list for STEM Academics (click “Lists” on their profile pages, then scan the lists they’ve created to find ones relevant to your area of research).
- Watch the updates on your Twitter homepage for unfamiliar names–
chances are that someone has “retweeted” (shared someone else’s update
with their audience) a user that you’d be interested in getting updates
field to begin with, and take some time to read through each user’s
“timeline” (updates on their profile page) to learn more about them and
their interests. You’re going to start chatting with your colleagues in
our next step.
One of the things that makes Twitter so great is that it is a
no-pressure forum to spark conversations with your colleagues about a
variety of topics, including but not limited to your shared area of
study. Twitter also helps you find members of the public who are
interested in your area of study.
Researchers who participated in a recent study of academics’ use of social media reportedly appreciate Twitter because:
"Love the ability to chat to colleagues on Twitter, better than
seeing each other just once a year at conferences and actually I have
“met” people on Twitter before meeting them IRL at conference."
"My focus is science outreach to general audiences. These formats
[Facebook, Twitter, Storify] are easy to use and my audiences are there.
It helps me disseminate information about science, science news and the
process of science to broader audiences."
"Twitter allows me to make connections to folks that I would not otherwise have – journalists, policy professionals."You’re going to engage with others by tweeting at them–writing short
messages that either respond to one of their updates, ask questions, or
share information with them. Let’s talk now about what makes for good
others on a variety of things: their opinions on a study, recent news, a
thought-provoking blog post, and so on. You can write anything in your
updates, as well as attach photos and location information, too.
Some things you might want to share with others include:
- Recent papers in your field (both papers you’ve written and others’ articles)
- News and blog posts relevant to your discipline (science policy,
funding announcements, articles from Nature News, New Scientist, and
your other favorite sources of information)
- Your opinion on developments in your field, others’ research
- A funny thing that happened in your lab, at a conference, or in the classroom
- Happenings from your personal life (are you reading a good book that others must know about? Did you run a 5k-race for the first time?)
do to make your tweets more interesting to others (and thus more likely
to be shared via a retweet):
- Use hashtags (a word or phrase that follows the “#” sign, like “#scicomm” or “#tenure”).
- Attach a photo to your tweet (when composing a tweet, click the “Add photo” camera icon and upload a picture from your computer).
- Consider following the 5-3-2 rule:
social media experts recommend that for every 10 updates you post, 5
should be content from others that are relevant to your followers, 3
should be professional content, and 2 should be personal updates.
Some academics swear by tweeting at conferences, because it provides
an easy way to learn new things and meet new people by following and
participating in conversations. As Bik & Goldstein explain,
Further, Jonathan Lawson points out"Tweeting from conferences (discussing
cutting-edge research developments, linking to journal articles or lab
websites, e.g., …) can introduce other scientists to valuable content,
and consequently provide networking opportunities for users who actively
post during meetings…Journalists and scientists following a conference
tweet stream may be additionally introduced to new groups of researchers
(particularly early-career scientists or those scientists who are new
to Twitter) with relevant and related interests; conference tweeting can
thus serve to enhance in-person networking opportunities by expanding
these activities to online spheres."
that it allows students and early career researchers, in particular, to
participate in a “backchannel” that’s not dominated by the most
established researchers, like the conferences themselves sometimes are.
meeting’s hashtag is, and then search for and follow it to “listen in”
on the conversation.
And when you’re ready to participate, you can add your voice by
writing tweets that include the conference hashtag. When you’re
listening to a talk, summarize the main points for your followers, add your own commentary to the speaker’s, and share related papers and websites. Just make sure you have the presenters’ permission to tweet about their talk; some would prefer to keep their findings off the Internet until they have published on them.
You can also tweet using the conference hashtag to organize informal
“tweetups,” which can help build relationships and ward off boredom in
unfamiliar cities (“Invigorated after Stodden’s great keynote! Anyone up
for grabbing a coffee before the reception to talk about it?
For more “how to’s” on conference tweeting, check out SouthernFriedScience’s primer on tweeting at conferences.
Twitter’s Analytics dashboard can help you measure the success of your outreach efforts.
(using your Twitter username and password) and review your latest
tweets that share links to your blog or your papers. On the dashboard
view (pictured above), you’ll see all of your tweets and a summary of
your impressions and engagements.
The number of impressions equals the number of times your tweets
appeared on people's timelines. The number of engagements are the number
of times your tweets have been retweeted, clicked through, or clicked
on to learn more information about what you shared. They help you
measure the amount of exposure you’re receiving and others’ interest in
what you’re tweeting, respectively.
The dashboard view is good at summarizing your impressions and
engagements over various time periods. The default view is for the past
28 days, but you can click the calendar button in the upper right hand
corner to select a date range of your choosing–useful if you want to see
what effect tweeting at a conference had upon the amount of exposure
you’re getting, for example.
To see the drill-down engagement metrics for a specific tweet, click on the tweet. You’ll see something like this:
In addition to simple engagement and impression metrics, LSE Impact Blog also recommends recording the following:
At the end of each month, Twitter can be used as a painless metric to
assess how your tweeting is working for you and your project. Showing
the growth in your followers and the number of people who read your
research blog can also be helpful for funding applications. You could
make short notes on the following:
- The number of followers you have.
- The names of those who could be useful for future collaboration.
- Invitations to write blog posts or speak at events, which have come via Twitter.
- Number of hits to your own blog posts via Twitter.
metrics, tweeting more content that your followers will love, in a
manner that will engage them the most.
for-profit company. Though it’s technically free to use, you pay for
your account by allowing Twitter show ads in your timeline and access and sell your personal data to other companies.
Twitter has also recently announced plans to experiment with users’
timelines, meaning that the uncensored, time-based updates you see on
your home screen could soon be replaced with updates selected by an algorithm. That’s something that Facebook currently does, and it led to a near blackout on updates for its users about one of the biggest news items of the year in the US: The Ferguson protests.
What could it mean for you? Well, if Twitter’s future algorithms
inadvertently decide that your tweets about H1N1 studies or field
research or science funding aren’t compelling to your users, it could
remove them from others’ homepages, killing potential conversations and
@GumbergLibrary. Share your scholarship using the hashtag #7DayImpactChallenge and we'll retweet you!
colleagues on the site, even if we’re not on Facebook primarily for
Scientists who do use Facebook for professional reasons tend to use
it to promote their work, and as an informal way to network with other
award announcement the next time you log on to Facebook. One advantage
to sharing articles in particular is that Facebook-based sharing and
discussion has been linked to increased readership.
In a recent Nature survey, 15%
of scientists that are regular Facebook users promote their recent
publications on the site, and over 20% use it to post work-related
content. Additionally, in a separate study,
one researcher opined, “‘I find that blogging/Facebook can be a very
good way to make one’s research more widely known to other scientists,
the public and, very importantly, students (both to inform them and to
Who’s most likely to share their work on the site? Well, the most often shared papers on Facebook tend to be those in the biomedical and health sciences, but there’s not yet research on the extent to which these papers were shared by the authors themselves.
Here are some tips for sharing your research on Facebook:
- Ideal times to post are reportedly after the workday is over (5 pm – 1 am), when your friends have more time to click on the links you post.
- Include a photo, figure, or video – visual content gets more “likes” and shares on Facebook than plaintext and links alone do. And more shares means more potential readers for your article.
- If you didn’t publish in an Open Access journal, link to a
shareable version of your article if possible so others without access
to the journal in which you’ve published can read it. Remember to check SHERPA RoMEO to determine what permissions the journal publisher's copyright transfer agreement dictates.
- Keep your post’s introductory text to 40 characters or less –
more people will “like” and comment upon your post, and that means your
post will appear more often in others’ timelines, increasing your
- If you’re sharing research that might be of public interest, set your post to “Public” (more information on how to do so below).
“Facebook is also a networking tool, particularly for takingThe informal, passive route to networking worked in Golash-Boza’s
advantage of 'weak ties.' Recently, I wanted to meet the author of a
successful book to ask her some questions about publishing. I looked her
up on Facebook and discovered that we had two friends in common. I
emailed one of them and asked for an introduction. Two days later, we
were in direct email contact. As another example, in the past year, I
have several received lecture invitations from Facebook friends. My
constant virtual presence in their lives likely increased the likelihood
they would invite me to speak.”
favor, but note that she didn’t “friend” or message someone she didn’t
know in order to make a connection. Rather, she leveraged shared ties
instead (something you practiced during our LinkedIn challenge). However, keep in mind that some researchers are very against using Facebook in a professional manner, so tread carefully.
Facebook censors your newsfeedAs we saw from Facebook’s recent suppression of Ferguson-related news in the US,
Facebook’s algorithms might decide that your updates aren’t worth
sharing with your network. So, why share your research or your views on a
platform that might hit the mute button on you?
Facebook has privacy problemsFacebook is a for-profit corporation. They make money by selling your
personal data to advertisers (in addition to putting advertisements
onto your Facebook profile and allowing brands to use your “likes” in their advertisements). They also have run afoul of privacy advocates by constantly changing the default privacy settings for profiles, opening up new and established users alike to unwanted public exposure.
If you do choose to use Facebook in a professional manner, be aware of the privacy issues and the steps you can take to mitigate them.
Your network is only as “professional” as you make itYou might use Facebook only for personal updates, sharing photos of
your children or what you made for dinner last night. Sure, you can
change your Facebook privacy settings to hide unprofessional content
from colleagues. But doing that for each new friend you add can be a
bothersome process. Some prefer to not friend colleagues at all, for
that very reason.
think on the arguments presented above and decide for yourself whether
you want to use Facebook to network with other
scientists/researchers/scholars, share your publications, or to
facilitate your research.
If you decide you want to use Facebook in a professional context, here’s how to make sure it’s up to snuff:
Separate professional from personalCreate a “list” for everyone you’d consider a professional contact,
and remember to add future professional contacts to that list, as you
become Facebook friends.
To create a new list:Now that you have a list of professional contacts, you can share
Learn more about who can see and follow your list.
Scroll down to Friends on the left side of your News Feed. Hover over Friends and click More.
Click Create List.
Enter a name for your list and the names of friends you’d like to add. Keep in mind you can add or remove friends from your lists at any time.
content selectively. Whenever you share something that’s of professional
interest, be sure to share it with both your work colleagues and your
other “friends” on the site. Consider even making it visible to the
public. Here's how to decide with whom to share your individual Facebook
- On the status update box, click the audience button to the left of the “Post” button
- Choose the lists you want to share that update with.
Manage your privacy settingsEdit your privacy settings so you’re discoverable
- Click the privacy settings padlock in the upper-right of your profile
- Click “Who can contact me?”
- Select “Everyone” under “Who can send me friend requests?”
your professional contacts by default–this can keep you from
accidentally sharing something inappropriate with the wrong audience.
- Click the privacy settings padlock in the upper-right of your profile.
- Click “Who can see my stuff?”
- Click “Who can see my future posts?”
- Select the group(s) you want to share all of your posts with.
that you know the pros and cons and ins and outs of using Facebook
professionally, take a break to do some leisurely Facebook browsing.
Tomorrow we cover how to determine whether your work is gaining any
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.