By Beth Kenkel
This condensed social media guide for scientists provides key facts
about how researchers report using social media and concrete examples of
how you can use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to network, exchange
scientific ideas, or advance a career. This is an all ages guide
designed for scientists at any career stage.
#1 reason scientists/engineers use LinkedIn: In case they are contacted.
If LinkedIn were a place… it’d be an interview room.
LinkedIn is an online profile (think CV or resume) that can connect you
to your professional network.
Getting Started: Check out this three part series on the basics of LinkedIn for scientists: part 1, part 2, part 3.
Tip #1: Use LinkedIn to learn more about a company
you’re applying to or one you hope to work at someday. Check out some of
the employees’ profiles to see if you have any connections that work at
Example Company LinkedIn Page: Here’s an example of
what a company LinkedIn page looks like. In the upper right hand corner
(red arrow), LinkedIn points out if any of your connections work at the
company — I have two connections at Bio-Rad. There’s also a link to all
of the company’s employee profiles; in this case, 6,537 Bio-Rad employee
Tip #2: Use LinkedIn to set up an informational interview.
Look for second and third connections that have jobs that sound
interesting. To maximize networking potential, try to meet people in
person if possible. Here’s a list of questions to help you prepare.
If Twitter were a place… it’d be a giant coffee
lounge full of science enthusiasts just like you. Used properly, a
Twitter network can broaden/change/improve your scientific thinking.
Example: Check out this paper to learn how Twitter shaped the outcome of the #arseniclife controversy.
Reason scientists/engineers use Twitter: to follow discussions, and post work related content.
Getting started: Check out these onboarding tips for Twitter newbies.
Tip #1: Follow lots of people, especially those with similar interests as you. Organize these people in Twitter lists
so that the number of people you follow isn’t overwhelming. Also, find
hashtags relevant to your field and monitor them regularly to stay up to
Example hashtags: #CRISPR, #molbio, #genetics, #phdchat, #phdlife, #ShowUsYourScience.
Finding people to follow: pick one person on
Twitter, maybe someone you know in person or a scientist whose work you
admire. Raid their following list for people to add to yours. Also, this list is a good place to start.
Tip #2: Be more than just a one-way broadcaster of
information. Having meaningful and mutually beneficial connections with
others is key to tapping into the networking value of Twitter. For an
example, see this podcast.
Examples of meaningful tweets:Bonus: Listen to this podcast for more Twitter tips and to learn how Stephani Page’s hashtag revolution #BLACKandSTEM affected her career. Skip to 11:50.
If Facebook were a place… it’d be your favorite bar
on a Friday night. It’s one of the least professional of all of the
social media platforms but potential employers may check your Facebook
profile during the hiring process. Be aware of how your profile reflects
#1 reason scientists/engineers use Facebook: non-professional purposes.
Getting Started: Adjust your privacy settings! Don’t know how? Check out this link.
Tip #1: Facebook can be a tool to maintain
friendships with former lab members, classmates, and colleagues. Bonus:
Facebook research suggests that both strong and weak ties can help you find a job.
Tip #2: Create a Facebook page for your research or your lab.
Here’s a quick summary:
There are endless ways to use social media as a scientist. This post
touches just the highlights of three platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, and
Facebook — there’s a lot more out there. Do you have a social media tip
for scientists not discussed in the post? Comment below and let everyone
Beth Kenkel is currently a Research Scientist at the University
of Washington. She’s interested in science communication and
point-of-care diagnostics. Follow Beth on Twitter @ElizabethKenkel.
Social media as a scientist: a very quick guide : Naturejobs Blog