Leveraging social media as an academic researcher

If you live in the 21st century and have access to the internet, you are probably using social media already. But you may still be wondering whether it is a good investment of your time to be active on social media professionally, as a researcher, PI, lab or department.

Why bother?

People will google you—especially people considering to work for you, collaborate with you, interview you… An online presence that leads them directly to the relevent info will give them a more correct and nuanced view of your research activities and goals. 

Social media can help you build a bigger, and more importantly a better network and give you increased visibility with audiences that maybe more difficult to reach traditionally, like journalists or policy makers. The low-treshold interactions on platforms like twitter or LinkedIn can be a source of information, for example on new relevant literature, but also of professional support and feedback. This can be very practical: troubleshooting a new method for example or tips on how to avoid being overwhelmed by reviewer requests. 

How to do it well

As with all forms of communication, always remember it is a two-way street. Whether it is LinkedIn, twitter, Instagram or TikTok, always keep it respectful and keep your audience in mind when sharing your content. 

Don’t be afraid to show some personality. This does not autmatically mean you are being unprofessional.

“But… I have no followers”, “I don’t know what to say”, “Help, there is so much misinformation out there!” Still struggling? Get in touch!

Getting it done

So where to find the time and energy to manage your professional social media activity? Everything starts with being strategic: what do you hope to get out of it and how will you measure that outcome? A strategy will help you plan and focus.

Once your goals are set, you can get practical help from a whole range of tools and apps that can save you time through scheduling or cross-posting on different platforms. A few of them also have free basic versions.

If creating content seems daunting, remember that you can recycle and repurpose existing material and that you can team up with others. Have you considered a team account or a rotating account? 

If you can’t delegate, why not consider outsourcing?

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