These days, you can find just about anything and anyone on the internet. With more and more information being distributed via the web, diverse communities of users have developed to help share information through social media. But what about academics? Many publishing outlets have been quick to embrace social media but uptake by the larger academic community is still limited. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs all have their respective strengths and weaknesses, but with a constantly growing slate of tools and platforms, it can be hard to know where to start, especially when it comes to using these tools in a professional capacity. In a previous post, we looked at why you might choose to blog, but for those new to using social media for professional purposes, we think Twitter offers considerable advantages over other platforms.
1. Connect with publishers. All of the major publishers and a considerable number of individual journals have Twitter accounts where they posts new articles and general updates. Details on journal webpages get updated very infrequently but by following journals or publishers you’re interested in, you can keep up to date on any new policies, promotions or articles of interest.
2. Connect with your peers. The community of academics on Twitter may still be small, but it is incredibly active. You can easily connect with researchers in your field (and those you’d never normally meet!) through Twitter and gather their tips on everything from writing papers, grammar, and dealing with journals to discussing the latest publishing trends.
3. Promote your work. Your published article is only useful if it gets read and now with social media and online publishing so prevalent, you no longer need to wait for hard copies of the journal to come out to get your work in the hands of your peers. Articles are often posted online as soon as they’re approved, letting you easily share links to them over Twitter and reach a large audience immediately. This also goes for datasets shared on sites such as figshare. The more exposure you have, the better your chances at citations.
Tips for Getting Started
1. Take advantage of #ScholarSunday. Started by academic and avid Twitter user Raul Pacheco, the#ScholarSunday hashtag is a way for academics on Twitter to promote users that a) they admire, b) post helpful tips, c) have expertise in their fields, or d) have a news feed that would be of interest to other academics. You can find many good people to follow through this weekly hashtag and, by using it, help build a more active and engaged community.
2. Search for conference hashtags. Most publishing-related conferences, webinars, or workshops will now have an official Twitter hashtag. Search for this to see all the tweets from the event to keep up to date or engage in the conversation even if you aren’t able to attend.
3. Check Storify. Storify is a great tool that gathers together “stories” out of tweets and other web content. If the idea of following tweets over the course of an entire event is daunting, or maybe you’re in a bad time zone to keep up live, Storify can often be a great place to get a quick summary of the key points you missed. You can browse from the main Storify page or even moderators may link to a Storify that they (or another attendee) created.
4. Keep it professional. Using a Twitter account for professional purposes is very different to having a personal account. One of the benefits of social media is its immediacy, but that can also be a major drawback if you are prone to firing off quick responses that may come back to haunt you later. With more and more people using social media and searching for their colleagues or employees, every Tweet matters when it comes to your reputation.
Hopefully these tips will help you get started using one of the most engaging and useful social media platforms for academics. For more tips on who to follow and keeping up on all the latest publishing news, check out our Resource Roundup post here or see what other academics have to say about their reasons for using Twitter.