Social media can be a powerful tool for promoting your work and interacting with your research community. When considering using social media to promote your research, you should ask yourself:
Do you have the time?
It's an on-going commitment. You can't build an effective following if you never post or Tweet, and an abandoned profile can reflect badly on the timeliness of your research.
Are you using the best channels?
Before you set up your profile, look around to see if colleagues in your research area are active in these communities, and if relevant university departments or organisations have profiles.
Are you willing to regularly write and curate content?
You will need to consistently engage people with your insight and expertise to build loyalty and trust within your audience. This includes writing new posts, and sharing or commenting on the posts of your peers and allied organisations. This brings valuable information to your followers, and shows you to be an active participant in online dialogues. With that said, building a long-term relationship with your followers will take time and energy, so you should carefully weigh when and if to start.
Once you've started...
- Follow or 'like' key figures, publishers and organisations in your field to see popular or trending topics, share relevant content and weigh in on points of discussion.
- When sharing your published work, try introducing the link with a provocative question or finding related to your research to further pique your audience's interest.
- Give updates on your current research projects, how they're going, and what your hurdles are.
- Use hashtags relevant to your subject and tag those for whom your post might be of immediate interest. This could include co-authors, departmental colleagues, your institutional feed and associations in your field. To help identify popular and trending hashtags in your subject you can utilize tools such as Hashtagify.me, which allows you to search using hashtags relevant to your chosen subject area and see related hashtags weighted by popularity and correlation.
- Include photos and video links where appropriate - these add visual impact to your feed and encourage sharing.
- Shorten hyperlinks using sites such as bitly.com, ow.ly or tinyurl.com.
- Share your research with collaborators and colleagues using nature.com's content sharing functionality.
- Ask your followers questions. There's no easier way to engage someone than to ask their opinion.
- Keep people up-to-date on conferences you're attending and follow / include the conference hashtag as you post during the meeting.
- Include links to your social media profiles in your department page and other professional listings.
- Use tools like Altmetric to track your article's impact in the social sphere. You can download their free bookmarklet to uncover the Altmetric data for any published article.