Using social media platforms such as LinkedIn, ORCID, ResearchGate, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Mendeley, can be an excellent way to promote your research and share it with a wider audience. Social media channels may also help you to access up-to-date information in your field, stay in contact with colleagues, and exchange ideas on different subjects.
While most scientists know that social media platforms are a great tool for drawing attention to their work and interacting with the research community, many of them are still not using these resources to their full potential.
An Ongoing Commitment
One of the factors that prevent researchers from getting involved in social media is the time and work required to build an effective network. Interacting with others via Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter means that you will have to spend time reading, writing, producing short videos or slides, taking pictures, and uploading files to the different platforms. Making good connections and keeping them is an ongoing commitment. It will be difficult to get a reasonable number of followers if you never tweet or post anything—and an abandoned profile can sometimes do more harm than good as it does not reflect well on the timeliness of your research. So, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you have the time for social media or not.
Choosing the Right Channel
You do not have to use every social media platform available. Some resources might be more suitable than others depending on your research field, experience, and free time, so the second question is: which channels are the best ones for you?
If your time is limited, it might be a good idea to create a targeted profile on LinkedIn and improve it occasionally. Other channels that can help you showcase your work without requiring frequent postings are ORCID, ResearchGate, and Mendeley. In all these platforms, it is usually enough to add recent publications or other updates to your profile to keep it “interesting”. However, LinkedIn and many other platforms also allow you to post links, pictures, and articles—or to comment on your colleagues’ posts—so in your free time, you should try to use these features to improve communication and interaction with your contacts.
Other resources such as Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube are more time-consuming, requiring you to regularly produce and curate content (posts, videos, slides, etc.) to keep your audience interested. Since building a stable network on these platforms will take time and energy, you should carefully decide if and when to get started with them. Before choosing the right platform, it is important to look around and find out whether your colleagues are also active in those communities. Below options and their features can help you decide which one is the best for you.
- Twitter: You can use this platform to tweet about latest research, blog, conference presentation, and more. You can also link your work in your tweets.
- LinkedIn: It is a professional networking platform. You can use it share updates on your research or a paper in a specific group or publicly. You can also provide links to your blogs, articles, websites, and more.
- Blogging: You can use different blogging platforms such as WordPress to share your research work. You can write detailed articles or research stories to engage your audience. You can also provide links to your work to increase visibility.
- Mendeley: This platform can help you grow your network by joining groups of your interest. You can not only view your research impact but also view others popular works.
- Facebook: Similar to other platforms, you can use it to update your followers and contacts with your latest work, blogs, presentations, and more.
- ResearchGate: It is a social networking platform especially for scientists and researchers to share and interact on research topics. It can also be used effectively to collaborate with other researchers on a common interest area.
Using Social Media Effectively
Once you have started, try to incorporate social media into your daily routine. Go online, post, and comment on any content that might be of interest to your field of research, but remember to think well before you post anything to make sure that your comments are appropriate. Checking your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts every day for five minutes is much more effective than going online for an hour once per month.
These five tips can help you promote your research on social media:
- Follow (or like) key figures and organizations in your field.
- Post regular updates on your research, adding pictures, videos, and relevant hashtags where appropriate. If possible, use a short, catchy text to attract your audience’s interest.
- Shorten hyperlinks using sites such as bitly.com or goo.gl.
- Provide links to your social media profiles on your homepage.
- Use Altmetrics to measure your research impact.
Even if you only have a few followers at the beginning, be persistent. Remember that becoming an experienced social media user can help you increase the impact of your work and make lasting connections with other researchers in your field.