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  • Writer's picturehilary.young

5 Reasons Academics Should Be Using Twitter

Do you feel disheartened with Twitter, not knowing how best to use your account to show off your work? Or maybe you haven't created a Twitter account as the thought of managing and maintaining it brings on the cold sweats?

Fear not! Sharing your academic research on Twitter is a great way to boost the visibility of your work. I've highlighted 5 ways Twitter can be used to your advantage below:

1. Profile Building

When people come across your work IRL they will likely look you up on Twitter; it's an easy way to follow (quite literally 'follow') your work. They will be interested in what you share, who you follow and what conversations you join in.

Twitter is a great space to shout proudly about your work, raising your research profile both within the academic Twitter community and beyond the traditional academic networks.

2. Peer-to-Peer Networking

Twitter provides a place to meet other academics, researchers and industry professionals who are interested in similar areas of work as you. Social media makes initial introductions and conversations easy while also informal, and can be the spark that lead to meaningful collaborations in the future.

3. Funding Opportunities

There is huge potential to find out about the latest funding opportunities on Twitter; if there's a funding announcement, you can bet Twitter is one of the first places it's publicised. The major research bodies actively use Twitter to share information, deadlines and results of the latest funding rounds.

It's also a popular space for other researchers and academics to announce their research grants, meaning you can access wider funding opportunities through collaboration, built on peer-to-peer networking on the platform.

4. Dissemination of Research

One of the biggest benefits of social media for academics is the potential to share your research and make a wider group of people aware of your work. Twitter is a powerful way of promoting and diffusing your academic outputs.

By Tweeting about your recent publications your followers will amplify your research, meaning awareness of your work will reach a larger audience. Twitter is not a citation index and will not be considered an impact indicator but is a useful tool for research dissemination.

5. Public Engagement

Some academics are already using social media to collaborate with the public; to engage in two-way dialogue or to involve the public in research (such as with citizen science). By involving the public in this way, you open up the possibility of a wider impact for your research.

So, do you think you might set up a new Twitter account? If so, then here are a few tips to set up your new profile:

  • Your username –– also known as your handle –– begins with the “@” symbol and is unique to your account, and appears in your profile URL. Your username is used to log in to your account, and is visible when sending and receiving replies and Direct Messages. Both your username and your actual name will be displayed on Twitter, so make sure to choose one that represents you and your work in a professional manner.

  • Add a headshot to your profile. The Twitter default profile picture of an egg looks spammy. Social media is meant to be personable and including a head shot of yourself really helps. Ideally try to use the same profile picture that you use on your academic webpages and other social media channels so that people can easily identify you as you.

  • Add a bio that is meaningful. You get 160 characters to play with here, so make the most of them. Give people a reason to follow you. Include any affiliations and research interests you have. Link back to your website or profile page on your department’s website.

One thing to bear in mind: until you build up an engaged community, your posts might not get much reaction to begin with. It takes time to build an engaged community on Twitter. To do so, search for people in your area of research and join in their conversations. The important thing is being consistent on the platform, as this will allow others to see Twitter is a reliable place to follow and interact with you.

Do your academic staff need help in getting the most out of social media? We'd love to help. If you have any queries, just get in touch with us here.

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