Saturday, 17 December 2016

Top Twitter Tips for Research Impact | impact-training


Top Twitter Tips for Research Impact

October 4, 2015
Prof Mark Reed and Dr Ana Attlee

Top Twitter Tips are 4 years old today, and to celebrate, we've
completely re-written and revised them for 2015. The previous tips were
viewed over 30,000 times before we took them down. We hope that many
more will find the new version just as useful!



How can Twitter enhance the impact of your research?

is one of the most powerful social media platforms for academics, given
the number of highly focussed and influential networks of people who
use it. Effective use of Twitter doesn't just amplify your research, it
enables conversations to take place about it. This can enrich your
research and enable you to make a far greater impact:

  • You
    can use Twitter to get feedback on new research ideas, so that you can
    reframe them to be more relevant to the people who might use your

  • You
    can get insights into the way that likely users of your research are
    talking about the topics you're working on - the kind of language
    they're using and the sorts of things they're most interested in. These
    sorts of insights can be invaluable when you need to start communicating
    your findings

  • You
    can be the first to find out about news and events related to your
    research, and you can link your own work to what's happening, making it
    more likely that your work is picked up and debated

  • An
    increasing number of researchers are finding out about funding via
    Twitter. You can also identify collaborators for grant proposals, who
    already trust to be a good team member through your online interactions
    with them. You can find out about funding that you might not have come
    across through your institution, especially linked to industry, which
    can help generate impacts from research

  • As
    we've blogged recently, more and more researchers are using Twitter to
    crowd-fund parts of their research. The benefits of additional funding
    are often dwarfed by the power of an effective crowd-funding campaign to
    reach out to new audiences about your research.

Why aren't you seeing these benefits?

how do you get all these great impacts social media? Perhaps you've
been on Twitter for months or even years now, and you've still got a
small and very slow-growing following, which doesn't give you any of
these benefits? If that's the case, then you've probably not been using
Twitter strategically for impact. That's why we created these top tips.

We've drawn these tips from our experience managing three Twitter accounts in particular:

  • @fasttrackimpact -
    our own Twitter account, which arose from the knowledge exchange
    research we conducted in a UK Research Council funded project that
    concluded in 2012 (formerly @SustainLearning)

  • @IUCNpeat -
    a Twitter account which arose from the science side of the same
    research project. The IUCN's UK Peatland Programme pursued the legacy of
    the project and rather than starting its own Twitter account, given the
    overlap in audience, we re-branded @reluuplands as @IUCNpeat in 2015 

  • @seed_ball -
    a Twitter account for a product that arose from another research
    project, and grew into a global business supporting four staff within 2
    years, marketed solely via Twitter.

Our Top Twitter Tips for Research Impact

Tweet yourself, your projects and your institution
addition to your personal Twitter profile, consider opening accounts
for some of your research groups or projects. Each of your research
projects is likely to have a different focus, and you’re probably a
member of more than one group or institution in your University that
doesn’t have a Twitter account. A project Twitter account is an easy
addition to your next “Pathways to Impact” statement when you’re
applying for funding, and some sort of engagement with social media is
increasingly expected by reviewers.

an institutional account will usually need to be a group decision. If
everyone agrees, others can either send you material to tweet or you can
give everyone the Twitter username and password to tweet themselves (if
so, you’ll need to agree on the nature of material you want posted, or
it may be easier to decide on the things you want to avoid). 

accounts for major research projects that will be going for a few
years, and that you hope will have some form of successor project in
future (so you’ve got time to build a following and don’t have too many
accounts to manage). Again, the burden doesn’t have to be entirely yours
– it can be delegated to a post-doc and shared with other team members.
Other ideas you might want to consider:

  • Link
    to your Twitter feed from your project/institution homepage, and
    include the link in newsletters, presentations and consider putting it
    in your email signature

  • Every time you do a conference/workshop/seminar presentation, put your slides online (e.g. using SlideShare) and tweet them

  • Every
    time you get a paper published, tweet the link to the article on the
    publisher’s website (if it’s not open access, consider adding that you
    can send copies if need be). If you can get permission, upload a copy
    on ResearchGate or similar and tweet the link

  • Tweet
    quotes from speakers at conferences you attend, using the conference
    hashtag (make one up if there isn’t one), to connect with other
    delegates and make them aware of your work

  • Set
    up Science Direct (or something similar) and Google News and Google
    Scholar alerts for key words and authors that are particularly relevant
    to your work, so you can be the first to let your followers know about
    new developments linked to your shared interests

  • When
    you’ve got a tweet that’s of much wider, general interest, you can
    re-tweet it from your other project/institutional accounts, to reach a
    much larger audience than you could ever command from your personal
    account or one project

  • Next
    time you’re revising your website, why not consider adding buttons to
    enable readers to share what they’re reading via Twitter and other
    social media platforms?

Don’t just wait for people to find you: actively promote your Twitter stream

are some easy things you can do to promote your twitter stream, like
including links on your homepage, project websites and in your email
signature. But more active promotion of your Twitter feed can attract
many more followers:

  • Make
    sure you’ve got an effective biography (consider including some popular
    and relevant hastags in it if possible) and enough really
    informative/useful (typically with a link to more information) tweets in
    your stream before actively marketing what you’re doing

  • Contact
    relevant people with large followings to ask if they can re-tweet key
    messages you’ve sent – tweet or Direct Message them via Twitter, and if
    that doesn’t work, find their email address via an internet search and
    email (or phone) them

  •  Use
    hashtags (#) to make your tweets visible to more people (e.g. #PhDchat)
    – notice which hashtags people you’re following are using, and use
    them. If you’re planning a Twitter campaign on a particular topic (e.g.
    linked to a new paper or policy brief), you could make up your own
    hashtag, but for it to work, others will need to use it, so you may want
    to work on getting a key tweet including your hashtag re-tweeted by
    others with larger followings
way most people find out about other people on Twitter is when they get
followed. Default settings send an email and mobile notification to a
user when a new person starts following them (including their brief
biography) – if they like what they read, chances are they will follow
you. Twitter recommendations (on can be helpful, but it
will only recommend a few people and recommendations are less so when
you’re just starting out. If you log out of Twitter and search for your
profile on the website, Twitter will list others who are similar to you
on the basis of who they follow and who follows them, compared to you.
But the best way to find others who may be interested in what you’re
doing is to see who is following other users who are tweeting very
similar things to you:

  • Who
    are the people you most frequently re-tweet? Who’s tweets are you most
    likely to follow links from? Go to these people’s profiles and see who’s
    following them, then systematically follow their followers

  • If
    you have time, try and be a bit selective – you can usually filter out
    the least relevant people from their username (e.g. don’t bother
    following companies that are clearly just following the person to try
    and get their custom)

  • Most
    people will decide whether or not to follow you based on the last three
    tweets you wrote, so before you start following lots of people
    strategically, make sure your last three tweets are representative of
    the sort of thing you tweet about, and among your best (e.g. look back
    through your historic tweets to see if there was something you wrote a
    few weeks or months ago that was popular, which you could tweet again)

  • If
    you’re following people who are following a specific Twitter account,
    make sure that one of your most recent three tweets is either a retweet
    from the account you’re targeting or a quoted re-tweet with your take on
    the story, so that followers instantly recognize that you’re tweeting
    about material they’re familiar with

  • Twitter
    monitors the ratio of people following you to the number of people you
    follow to stop spammers, so you will reach a limit beyond which you
    cannot follow anyone else. But don’t let that stop you getting the word
    out about what you’re doing. Unlike Facebook, it is common and
    acceptable to unfollow users (they won’t be notified that you unfollowed
    them) to free up room to follow others. If possible, unfollow the
    people who you’ve been following for longest who have not followed you
    back (so you give people as long as possible to notice you've followed
    them and they have time to check you out). Tools like ManageFlitter, Crowdfire, Unfollow for Twitter, iUnfollow and UnfollowSpy can
    make strategic unfollowing very quick and easy. Note that each of these
    websites and apps will only allow you to unfollow a set number of
    people every day unless you pay. However, if you do pay for unlimited
    unfollows, Twitter can revoke authorisation from the website or app to
    your account for unfollowing too many people (and the website or app
    will no longer work for you), so it is best not to pay for these
problem with this approach is that you’ll no longer be able to use this
account to follow tweets the people you’re most interested in learning
from (as they’ll be lost in the noise of all the other tweets from
people you just wanted to know you existed). To ensure you can still use
Twitter to gather information from those you’re most interested in,
either make sure you only market your project or institutional Twitter
accounts in this way, or set up a “personal” Twitter account where you
follow those you’re most interested in and a “work” Twitter account that
follows many more people, where you put out most (if not all) of your
tweets. Lists can also be useful for this – set up a list of users who
tweet in different areas so you can look at a more selective timeline of
tweets that interest you

Work on your signal-noise ratio

people will follow you because they share your core interests (your
“signal”), but they will rapidly lose interest if too many of your
tweets are not relevant to these interests (effectively “noise” they
have to filter out when scanning through their timeline)”
an academic, you need to build your reputation in your chosen field.
Twitter can help you reach a network of highly relevant academics, as
well as potential users of your research, and make them aware of your
work. To do this effectively, you need to decide what it is that you
want to be “known” for, and then work on building your reputation in
that area. Most people will follow you because they share your core
interests (your “signal”), but they will rapidly lose interest if too
many of your tweets are not relevant to these interests (effectively
“noise” they have to filter out when scanning through their timeline):

  • Consider
    how useful and relevant each tweet is before sending it, to increase
    the likelihood that your followers find your tweets useful and keep
    following you

  • Ensure the majority of your tweets have hyperlinks to further information

  • Provide an image (or video) to accompany your tweets where possible (research by Twitter shows that tweets with images are re-tweeted 35% more than text-only tweets and videos give a 28% uplift).
    Bear in mind that some web links automatically generate an accompanying
    image (e.g. many blogs, newspaper sites and video sites automatically
    generate an image, title and first line of the article below your tweet
    once it has been sent)

  • Avoid
    sending too many tweets and re-tweets at a time – if you’re at a
    conference and tweeting every couple of minutes, followers who aren’t
    interested in the conference are likely to get fed up of you dominating
    their timeline on a single narrow issue and unfollow you

  • Avoid
    using too many acronyms and abbreviations in your tweets – they may
    make sense to you but many people reading fast will simply skim over
    your tweet if they don’t understand you instantly. Better to say less in
    complete words than to try and cram too much in, if it means you resort
    to acronyms and abbreviations

  • If
    you’re increasingly tweeting about things that are very different to
    your core interests, consider setting up a new Twitter stream devoted to
    that issue/interest

  • If
    you’re tweeting from a project or institutional account, try not to mix
    work and personal tweets. Remember you’re tweeting on behalf of a
    group, so telling people about what you’re doing on holiday is going to
    sound a bit strange (either your institution appears to be on holiday or
    it becomes clear that the Twitter stream is really only about one
    person (who’s on holiday) and not the whole group). If you do want to
    mix personal and work tweets (some commentators suggest this can help
    build rapport with your followers), make sure your biography clearly
    states the name of the person tweeting on behalf of the project or

  • Delete
    conversations once they’re finished. One of the great strengths of
    Twitter is the capacity to join in conversations about your research and
    other people’s work. However, people are less likely to follow you if
    they look through your timeline and can’t find information-rich,
    relevant material easily because it is cluttered up with lots of
    conversation. Particularly if you’re about to strategically follow a lot
    of people, make sure you delete all recent replies from your timeline
    (assuming the conversations are over), so that they can easily see your
    material and are more likely to follow you
is also worth working on the signal:noise ratio in those you follow –
if you find that you’ve started automatically skimming or skipping
tweets by certain people, chances are they rarely have anything
particularly relevant/useful to say – unfollow them and reduce the
amount of noise you have to trawl through.

Get your timing right

of the way Twitter works, most people only read a fraction of the
tweets in their timeline, so if you're tweeting on a day and time that
none of your audience are reading their timelines, you could be tweeting
into the void. Timing is also about linking to the issues of the day -
reframing to link into an ongoing news story or debate can really get
your research some attention:

  • Link your tweets to ongoing events in academia and the news, using linked hashtags where relevant

  •  If you’ve got a lot to say, don’t tweet in bursts; rather spread your tweets through the day, using something like HootSuite
    to automatically schedule your tweets (so you don’t have to keep
    interrupting your day). Someone who only logs into Twitter at the end of
    the day may not get to the three tweets you put out at 8 am, but will
    probably get at least one of the ones that were scheduled for the
    afternoon. Warning: your friends might think you have super-human powers
    when they discover you're tweeting while lecturing or speaking at a
    conference (many people actually schedule conference tweets in advance,
    based on the programme timings)

  • Get
    to know when your followers are most likely to read your tweets. The
    time of day you’re most likely to get retweets and other engagement from
    academics is 7-9 am and 5-7 pm on week days, before/after and during
    the commute to/from work. Tweeting between 8-9 am is particularly
    effective. There is often a quite different audience of academics
    reading tweets at the weekend to these week-day times, so it is worth
    repeating key messages from the week at the weekend. Similarly, if you
    come across some great work-related material over the weekend, remember
    to re-use it later in the week when different people are more likely to
    pick it up

  • Repeat
    key tweets at different times the following days – if you have a
    newsletter, set HootSuite to tweet a headline per day with the link to
    your newsletter PDF

  • Have
    a relatively constant presence if you can – if you only have time to
    log on once a day or once a week, schedule your tweets to spread them
    through the day or week

Use Twitter as part of a wider social media and communications strategy

is just one of many social media platforms, so consider putting your
material out via other platforms too, and remember that people who might
use your research aren't always using social media, so you're going to
want to think about other ways of reaching out to your audiences:

  • Come
    up with a properly thought-through social media strategy as part of a
    wider communications strategy for your research, whether as an
    individual, a project or an institution – what are you trying to achieve
    through communication? Why are you using social media? Set your goals,
    come up with a strategy to meet them and monitor your progress

  • Everyone
    has different learning preferences (some like to read, others to
    listen, watch or do) and everyone has different preferences for the
    media through which they want to learn. Therefore, try and adapt your
    research for as many different learning preferences as possible, via as
    many different media as you have time to engage with. Also tweet links
    to different types of media – press releases, videos, journal articles,
    photos etc

  • Adapt
    your approach to each platform, rather than just linking Twitter to
    your Facebook account. Effective use of Twitter involves re-sending key
    tweets a few times, which is likely to annoy friends on Facebook or
    colleagues on LinkedIn. Instead, consider setting up a Facebook group
    for your project or institution, and just putting material there.
    Alternatively, use the Selective Tweets app on Facebook and choose which tweets you want to appear on Facebook by putting #fb at the end of your tweet. 

  • Remember
    that social media is just one form of communication, and that there
    will be many who are interested in your work who are not using these
    technologies. Keep up your project newsletter – printing and posting
    where relevant (but still tweeting the link to the PDF, hosted somewhere
    you can count hits like ScribdResearchGate or ISSUU).
    Keep presenting at conferences and running workshops for the end users
    of your research (of course tweeting videos of what you do on You Tube
    and putting your presentations on SlideShare)

Constantly refine your practice

Watch how other academics, projects or institutions with large followings tweet:

  • Learn good practice from others, and experiment yourself

  • Take note when something annoys you about the way other people use Twitter and avoid doing that yourself
Monitor and learn from your successes and flops:

  • Which
    of your tweets are most likely to get re-tweeted? Which tweets don’t
    get re-tweeted? What do they have in common, and what can you learn from
    this? How were you using Twitter on the day you got 10 new followers?

  • Put
    (open access) documents that you cite on Twitter in places where you
    can count hits – which tweets make people click on the link (and
    presumably read your document), and which ones fall flat? What can you
    learn from this?

  • Experiment
    with different headlines in Twitter to see which ones work best – try
    and reframe your point and tweet it again later that day, and see if you
    have more success

  • Read
    through the material you’re tweeting and find quotes you can use to
    promote the link in a slightly different way – sometimes one of these
    quotes really takes off, far more effectively than the headline. If
    you’re tweeting a blog you wrote, then you might want to consider
    re-titling the blog at this point!

Remember it’s all about relationships

forget twitter is about communicating and building a relationship with
people and not just marketing your own or institutions work at them. So,
remember to check other similar institutions/academics tweets and
respond to those that are interesting. As an academic, Twitter allows
your work to reach a much wider audience and also enables more
discussion of your work with others who may put it into practice.
as with any other social setting there is “Twitter Etiquette”, for
example: thank anyone who answers you directly or tweets about your
work; and always give credit where it’s due. If someone gave you the
information credit him or her with it, either by using via @person1 (if
they are a twitter user) or as a quote in text.
Top Twitter Tips for Research Impact | impact-training

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