Post, Share, Engage: How Researchers Can Use Social Media to Promote Their Work

As a researcher, you are aware of the important role that communication plays in the process that finally sends your paper flying out into the world. Even before you can begin your research work, you must contact peers and secure funding. Once you’ve conducted your research, and written a good paper, you must convince your chosen journal to publish it. And when your paper is published, you must talk about it on all online and offline platforms that give you the chance to do so.

But are you tapping into all available resources to communicate your body of work? Can you do more?

Social media platforms, when used optimally, can collectively be the most versatile and widespread channel of communication out there, allowing you to reach anyone anywhere. It can amplify the impact that you and your work would otherwise have—for instance, as the recent viral spread of large amounts of scientific information on COVID-19 and SARS-CoV2 has shown, the scientific and journalistic communities extensively, and often very creatively, use social media to communicate research, which the general public is then happy to consume and discuss. Social media is, by far, one of the best communication tools that researchers have at their fingertips.

But navigating through the tons of advice heaped across the internet on this matter can be tricky.

As I worked my way through this advice, I felt that all of it can, in general, be filed away into a certain framework. Below, I break down this framework, listing along with each point the websites I recommend as reference for more a detailed understanding.

The main go-to platforms for a researcher are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook

There are many social media platforms out there, but the community that each platform nurtures has its unique characteristics. Instagram may be best suited to photographers and Pinterest to hobbies. For you, the researcher, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are your best friends.

For more details: http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2017/08/23/social-media-as-a-scientist-a-very-quick-guide/.

1. LinkedIn is where you suit up

LinkedIn is where you set up a professional profile of yourself, promote your work, and get in touch with other professionals like yourself. You can also use the platform to simply learn about individuals or relevant organizations and use Twitter to connect.

For more details: https://blog.addgene.org/seven-tips-for-using-linkedin-as-a-scientist and http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2012/12/20/linkedin-tips-for-scientists/

2. Twitter is where you chatter

Twitter is where the buzz is. Everyone from everywhere pulls up papers, comments, news, etc. to discuss them. Twitter can be where you engage with people and organizations and begin your networking journey, or where you join groups that allow you to keep tabs on the piles of relevant literature that are produced every day.

For more details: http://hellophd.com/2017/03/069-5-ways-scientists-twitter/ and https://ipscell.com/2012/05/the-scientists-top-10-guide-to-twitter/

3. Facebook is how you keep in touch

Facebook is where you post snippets of your non-research life. Researchers do use Facebook to promote their work, but studies have shown that they primarily use it for life beyond the lab and library: to put out their opinions on social, political, environmental or other issues; let their friends know about the mini achievement they made that day; or share the joy of a little outing with their family. You can use this platform to engage with your peers and colleagues on a personal level. You can also set up a professional page for your research or your lab.

For more details: https://www.sciencemag.org/features/2014/02/scientists-guide-social-media and https://www.agu.org/Share-and-Advocate/Share/Social-multimedia/Howto-use-facebook

Another thing to make time for!?

Your day is already filled to the brim, what with all the time in the lab and/or the library, the myriad of interesting things the world has to offer, and all the real-world socializing one must do. How does one then incorporate social media engagement into one’s day? Social media is handy and works very well on a smartphone. Just pop in and out of one platform or another when you have time to spare during a commute or while waiting for a meeting. Or simply log in for 15 minutes before bed. In addition, with a little bit of practice, you can master some of the tricks of efficiently navigating through the features of each platform.

For more details: http://sciencemediasavvy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/6-SMS-Tips-for-scientists-using-social-media.pdf and https://sciencemediasavvy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Tips-for-making-social-media-part-of-your-working-day.pdf

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