Monday, 9 January 2017

Twitter for academics. PART ONE: Nuts and bolts | The Online Academic


Twitter for academics. PART ONE: Nuts and bolts

What is Twitter?

In 2006 came Twitter, a website where you don’t
necessarily have to Tweet to get the benefits of the site; you can
follow people and see what they’re saying in 140 characters or less. The
best thing about Twitter is that you don’t need your own website to put
down your own thoughts and interests, you can share via links, this is
web 2.0 at its best!

Things you should know

  • The hashtag is part of the genius of the Tweet: Putting a simple symbol ‘#‘ in front of any word or string of words you create a ‘hashtag’, which means it becomes part of a searchable list
    of Tweets all related by that hashtag. People often keep specific
    hashtag streams (stream is a real-time newsreel) open in their social
    media software, e.g., #scicomm (science communication), to know what
    people are saying about that topic.
  • Discover what is ‘trending‘, go to the #Discover part of Twitter to see what the top trending hashtags are being used in your country or worldwide
  • A person who Tweets is called a Tweeter
  • Someone’s ‘handle‘ is the name you give yourself on Twitter with the ‘@
    symbol in front of it (not your username, which is your account
    username shown along side). You can include Twitter users in your Tweets
    by using their ‘@’ handle.
  • Popular fun hashtags:
    • #F4F ‘follow for follow’, if I
      follow you you follow me, it happens a lot and people make money doing
      this, so make sure you like what they Tweet otherwise it just gets
    • #FF ‘Follow Friday’, this can be
      a great way to discover new people, every Friday people Tweet the
      handle of their favourite Tweeters along with the FF hashtag
    • #TBT ‘Throwback Thursday’, a
      great way to repost your favourite things from the past but usually
      people post embarrassing pictures of themselves, use it in whatever way
      you wish.
    • Other hashtags in common use among academics are:
      • #PhDChat, #PhDForum, #PhDadvice, #PostDoc, #Tenuretrack, #academic, #academiclife
      • #ScholarSunday 
      • Some more specific to your field might include:
        #twitterstorians (twitter historians), #scifri (science Friday)… just
        writing your field of research as a hashtag and see what you find!

Go to next blog in this series of five blogs about Twitter for academics, PART TWO: The talking business card or Twitter for Academics main menu.

Twitter for academics. PART TWO: Setting up your talking business card

Congratulations, you have made a wise choice to start professionally Tweeting!
There are many advantages to academic Tweeting: 
  • Getting yourself known in the field
  • Making yourself instantly available to your peers without annoying enquiring emails
  • Creating an active presence as a professional
  • Micro-blogging about your latest papers
  • Conference attendances
  • Latest movements in your career
  • …and so much more.

Treat Twitter like a TALKING BUSINESS CARD and the people you are
interacting with as your peers in this alternative working world: you
are not necessarily in competition but part of something much bigger.

Here are some tips on how to create a good Twitter profile as well as some other things to keep in mind:

  1. What are you using Twitter for? If you are using Twitter primarily for work and work-related issues, then keep Tweets on topic. There isn’t a limit on how many Twitter account you can have so just open another Twitter account for a different ‘persona’ that you might want to try out. I have three!🙂
    1. As a professional academic social media user, you
      are expected to have opinions in particular about your area of
      expertise. But the occasional unrelated Tweet shouldn’t matter.
  2. Your profile picture. Keep the same picture
    of you (or your avatar) across social media networks. This is a good
    idea because people recognise you straight away, e.g, the difference
    between Dr. Smith from Florida as opposed to another Dr. Smith from

    1. Use your best picture:
      Depending on what personality you are trying to get across: serious,
      business-like, fun, try and keep one picture across all of your
      professional social media sites. I use the same picture on Google,
      Twitter, LinkedIn, anywhere I am professionally viewed. People will come
      to know and trust this picture.
  3. Appearances and the two-second first impression! “Are you on Twitter?” I ask nearly all academics I meet because I want to connect and keep in touch with what they are doing.
    1. On a professional Twitter account I expect to see a few things on their small profile information, (not
      some random words about their favourite football team or their dog,
      spouse and kids). Although it’s sweet seeing personal stuff, I really
      want to know WHO they are, WHERE they are, and WHAT they are doing in
      their ACADEMIC FIELD.
  4. Choosing your Twitter handle.
    Keep it as short as possible. If people Tweet to you and your handle is
    as long as @DrJosephineMScoble, they have less character space in which
    to write the rest of their message. So, I could have chosen @JojoScoble,
    which is how I like to be addressed. But I chose @Paraphyso (something
    to do with my research) since my user name ‘Jojo Scoble’ is displayed next to my Twitter handle anyway.

    1. It’s up to you but keep it as short as possible, but remember, there are only
      have a few seconds to impress people as they glance at your profile
      information and decide to follow or not. This additional information, on
      top of a profile picture makes you recognisable.
  5. Further tips for a great Twitter profile:
    1. Your information: Just as in your Tweets you have limited character space so use it wisely. Sentences aren’t needed so use key words and HASHTAG them so your profile comes up when people search within those hashtags.
    2. Add handles to your information
      if possible: I use my alumni university’s Twitter handle within my
      information so people know I’m an alumna of that institution (check with
      account holders first, in some cases it might be OK).
    3. See my description below there are just two words
      not hyperlinked in my information (black words) and I have strung these
      together to make sense. I’ve also delineated the list by a dash to
      indicate what I also Tweet about: #PostDoc #Microbiology @Usask with @SinaAdl in #Protist #Diversity – #OA #OpenSource #EqualRights #MentalHealth #blogging #Writing @OxfordAlumni #scicomm

      1. Note: There is a separate field for your website
        address below your profile information, no need to put it in your
        general information.    
    4. Your background banner picture
      you can use this to show a picture of something related to your work: a
      book; a subject or process (x-ray, gel, animal, person); use it to
      advertise a conference you are helping to organise; more information
      about you. I follow a lot of independent authors who use the banner to advertise their latest book, you could use it to advertise your latest book/chapter or review piece too.
  6. Pinned Tweets: whatever you are currently doing in
    your research, you latest paper, conference, research project or
    whatever is ‘hot’ in your life right now, pin that tweet to the top of
    your profile page. Any tweet of yours you pin will stay at the top of
    your tweet stream on your profile page and that way people will know
    what you are all about right now.
  7. The last word:
    1. DO include people in your Tweets;
    2. DON’T rant on and on about something;
    3. DO promote your field;
    4. DON’T make it all about you all the time;
    5. DO praise people often;
    6. DON’T be negative.

Go to next blog in this series of five blogs about Twitter for academics, PART THREE: How to start Tweeting or Twitter for Academics main menu.

Twitter for academics. PART THREE: How to start Tweeting

Make lists, lots of lists!

Make what?” I hear you cry. You might not feel like micro-blogging yet but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t do anything to prepare.

You don’t have to follow anyone on Twitter *STOP THE PRESS*
Yeah, it’s true, you can put them in a list and then go to your list
to see what people are saying in that list. So, Twitter lists are a good
way of NOT following people but seeing what they post. You can make
public and private lists but REMEMBER THIS – anyone who you put in list/s will KNOW that you put them in that list, so don’t make one called ‘assholes’ or ‘idiots’!

  1. Lists are good insurance for later. If you put people you follow in a list too this means you can unfollow them later without losing them from your Twitter experience. Why
    would you do this? Because Twitter only allows you to follow up to
    2,000 users until you reach 2,000 followers! This shocked me, when I had
    800 followers but I’d already followed 2,000 accounts and wanted to
    follow more. I had the great advantage of lists, so, for example, I
    un-followed people in my news list but keeping them in the list,
    therefore freeing up my ‘following’ count so I can start following
    people of academic interest again.

    1. There are some really good programs out there that can help you to
      ‘cull’ who you are following: unfollow all those who don’t follow you
      1. @Justunfollow  and  @tweepdash

How to Tweet.

  1. When you’ve plucked up the courage to Tweet think
    about how your Tweet will come across, 140 isn’t much, so keep it
    simple, what is your message? Become economical with your words,
    it’s a great practice in becoming concise, good for those abstracts
    we’re always writing, so you should be good at this already!
  2.  Tweet regularly and on subject.
    Having a professional account, people will follow you because you are a
    professional and they will expect you to Tweet about your subject so if
    you suddenly start Tweeting off subject then they will likely
  3. When you start tweeting it is a good idea to keep in mind WHY you are Tweeting
    something. Does is grab attention and make a statement? There is little
    point just saying something for the sake of it, as it will not hold
    much sustenance for example if you Tweet:
This will not be re-Tweeted or be of interest:

We need to care more about the welfare of unicorns in the war on rainbow planet
Instead you should find an article you agree with and Tweet about the article stating a FACT from within the article.
This is far more likely to get attention and retweeted and water your Twitter garden for longer:
Unicorn refugees are starving when aid is available <link to information> #refugees #welfare #war
3. Pinning posts! Fairly
recently (August 2014), Twitter made it possible to pin your best Tweet
at the top of your Twitter page, in this way you can have that Tweet you
made about your publication always at the top of your stream, clever

 Go to next blog in this series of five blogs about Twitter for academics, PART FOUR: My twelve rules of Tweeting or Twitter for Academics main menu.

Twitter for academics. PART FOUR: My twelve rules of Tweeting

Here are my twelve rules that I try and stick to, I’ve learned from my mistakes and I hope you will benefit too.

  1. Re-read your Tweet, and re-read it again.
    Typing errors are embarrassing especially if you are using a mobile
    device that will often predict what you are going to say. Try reading it
    out aloud. (You can delete your Tweets but it’s upsetting if you have
    to delete the favourites and the retweets).
  2. Re-read your Tweet and re-read it again. Ask yourself does it make grammatical or logical sense?
  3. Don’t post too much at once. Bombarding
    people with Tweets is annoying so ask yourself, ‘Do I need to say it
    now or could your put it on a Buffer to send out later?’ Yes there are
    programs that can do that namely, Buffer, Klout, and Hootsuite
    Also, you can set them to post at peak time across different timezones and reach a world-wide audience.
  4. Check your facts. Re-Tweet/share
    from trusted sources! I re-tweeted something once that was incorrect, I
    got so many re-tweets but it was incorrect. I never used an unknown
    source again.
  5. Remember your Ps and Qs. Always
    thank someone for getting in touch no matter what the query; they took
    time out of their schedules to contact you. Be patient. unless they’re a
    troll (see next point).
  6. Ignore trolls. Just ignore them.
    DO NOT reply, don’t get into an argument, they just want a rise out of
    you. It’s not worth your time. (Online troll = bully and person who
    upsets another on purpose)
  7. Know your audience. Are you
    trying to reach a particular group of people? Try using a few hashtags,
    is it about #health #poverty #politics? Funny hashtags are also
    encouraged although concatenated words might read in unintended ways:
    Chester Literary Festival’s hashtag #CLitFest and another from a while
    back, Susan Boyle’s album party #susanalbumparty (source: click here)
  8. Use positive words. Positive
    words grab peoples’ attention; ‘Amazing’, ‘Brilliant’, people want to
    know about amazing and brilliant things. I use ‘Awesome’ and ‘WOW’,
    probably too much, but I mean it.
  9. Spend time adding people to lists. Spend
    time adding accounts to lists and following back people who you are
    interested – this will keep your followers in some kind of order and you
    will have a great list of resources at your fingertips. There are some
    accounts which are just for #F4F means ‘Follow for Follow’, and have
    this on their profile descriptions, they make money doing this and
    they’re REALLY boring.
  10. Don’t make every Tweet all about you. Engage users by using their @handles and tweet about related topics interesting to them.
  11. Don’t Tweet if you’re angry (or inebriated).
    If you’re in a terrible mood it’s probably not a great idea to be
    social, but there are other things you can do: Re-tweet other people’s
    Tweets that you like; Make specialist lists; Follow other Twitter
  12. Schedule posts for different time zones. Scheduling is always a good idea to engage others from another continent who might usually miss your tweets. (Use for free in Buffer, Klout or functions available in Hootsuite). A great way to get a wider audience.

I hope you have been encouraged by what I have shared with you about
my experiences of using Twitter as an academic and you aren’t

During my PhD I used Twitter lightly, posting at once or twice a week
about something on (my) topic. I have gained most of my followers from
conferences and by Tweeting with them online.

People are mostly really nice and you will find
friends, but friends who will challenge you too in a fun professional
way. And, I have met up with and made more friends from via
academic Twitter socials in London, UK.

Remember, you are part of a big group of nerds who just want to talk shop. I think you could be very happy.

Go to next blog in this series of five blogs about Twitter for academics, PART FIVE: Growing your network or Twitter for Academics main menu.


Twitter for academics. PART FIVE: Growing your network

For this final blog piece in the series of five in Twitter for Academics I want to give you a start on:

How to grow your Twitter network.

Search and follow

  1. Do a search and find out who’s there.
    It’s simple really, if you follow people you are interested in then
    they are likely to follow you too. Search in the search bar using key
    words related to your field. You can spend a lot of time doing this so
    try and limit your time and remember to keep lists (more about lists click here).
  2. Keep lists and Tweet your lists.
    Yes, I ‘m obsessed with lists, but it’s a great time-saver in the end,
    and if you are proud of the lists you made of botanists or 21st century
    life-writers why not Tweet a link to the list? Have you been to a
    conference recently? Make a list of people you met at that conference and Tweet the list you made, people are grateful of a good list they can subscribe to or follow those therein.
  3. Hashtags. Using a wide variety
    of hashtags and getting creative with your hashtags will encourage
    others to follow you. I always get more followers after a conference,
    whether I’m there or not. Follow a conference hashtag and the Tweets and
    follow those who Tweet.


  1. Every conference should have a hashtag for the conference. I went to another Protist conference recently and the wider Tweeting community use
    (for 2014) so we can use the hashtag throughout the year, even so the
    conference itself might have specifically come up with one for the
    conference or even each day or specialist session. Use these hashtags to
    Tweet about your conference and connect with others in your field. On a
    side note, it’s never a good idea to Tweet someone’s preliminary
    results or findings, so keep Tweets to known facts or just say ‘X is doing some great research on ABC…’, think about copyright, you don’t need to Tweet everything you hear. (Read more about Tweeting at conferences, click here)

Useful apps to enhance your Tweeting experience

  1.; JustUnfollow; Tweepdash :
    There are some really great apps that can give you a list of people who
    you follow who never Tweet or ones that have un-followed you. In this
    way you can be more economical with your ‘following’ number until you
    have passed 2,000 followers. (You can only follow up to 2,000 accounts
    until you have at least 2,000 following you, after which you can follow
    more). I use the application ‘Justunfollow’ on my mobile phone to do
    this job, just search for it in your device application store.
  2. Tweetdeck,
    it’s becoming a little dated but is still going strong. I have three
    Twitter accounts: one for the lab, my professional one, and another for
    personal. I log in to all these accounts on Tweetdeck and then I can see
    what’s going on in all of them at the same time without having to
    constantly sign in and our. Hootsuite can do this too.

Find a mentor

  1. There is no ‘one way’ to use social media.
    Many people find the concept of becoming your own advocate and
    interacting with your peers very daunting and it does take practice, but
    you will build confidence the more you use it. There are thousands of
    blogs and advice and tips, just search whatever it is that you want to
    know. That is the great thing about the web: people post stuff about
    everything! HOWEVER, take all the advice with a pinch of salt, someone’s
    experiences might not quite fit your current situation.
  2. Find someone who you like on Twitter
    who Tweets well, generates interest, and learn from them – see how they
    interact with people and emulate that when you feel comfortable enough
    to try.

To look back at the other four blogs preceding this final one in the series, click here.

**The Twitter for Academics eBook is out now **

click here for more information or click here to go the Amazon website

Twitter for academics. PART ONE: Nuts and bolts | The Online Academic

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