Having an online presence gives you the ability to craft your professional image and also provides a platform from which to promote your research. Because most social media platforms allow connection with others, it can also be a great way to build your network and raise your profile among your peers.
Twitter is a social network which allows users to exchange public messages (tweets). Tweets can contain multi-media or small amounts of text (up to 280 characters). Content can be original, or shared from other platforms or other tweets (retweets). One of the features of Twitter is that you can "follow" other users - meaning their "tweets" will appear on your "feed" - and they, in turn, can follow you. This means that once a network has been established, messages can be disseminated quickly and conversations can start amongst a group of people who share an interest in real time. Some research indicates that tweets can predict citations - one study indicated that highly tweeted articles are 11 times more likely to get cited than less tweeted-articles. Twitter can also be used to follow conferences or topics using hashtags. For more information and instructions on how to set up your account, see the Twitter Help Centre. For more ideas on how to promote your research via Twitter, see our page on sharing your research.
LinkedIn is an online professional network. By creating a profile and connecting with others, you can create a network of colleagues which you can then use to stay in touch, share information and offer recommendations and endorsements. Your profile acts like an online CV, allowing you to add publications, achievements, employment history and more. For ideas on how to build your profile see, 7 Tips to Supercharge your Academic LinkedIn Profile by ImpactStory.
Instagram is a social network used mostly for sharing pictures and videos. While at first this might not seem like the most appropriate platform for sharing research, many scientists are using it to break down stereotypes, foster public trust and open up their research to a wider audience through images. Examples include @couretlab and @scientistselfies.
Facebook is an online social network which allows people to connect and engage with individuals and organisations. Profiles can be created for individuals and pages can be created for organisations or projects. Creating a page for your project can be a great way to engage with the public. Facebook can also be used to create and promote events. For more information see the Facebook help pages.
Youtube is a platform for sharing videos. For more information about creating videos to promote your research, see our page on sharing your research. Using your Google account, you can create a channel which people can subscribe to to get alerts on your activity. You can then add links to your videos in any other profile posts.
Blogging is a great way to reframe your research for a particular audience. You could consider creating a blog on a professional level or dedicated to your research. Alternatively, you may find blogs you can contribute to as a guest writer. Some faculties in the University have their own blogs. If you can, cross-promote anything you write through your other profiles and be sure to use compelling titles and appropriate keywords. Platforms for creating your own blog include WordPress and Blogger. For a list of blogs at the University of Waikato, see the Blog Directory.
#MySciBlog Interviewee Motivations to Blog about Science - Paige Brown Jarreau
Rather than being a social media platform in itself, Altmetrics is a term used to describe alternative metrics, which sometimes include metrics from social media. Platforms such as Altmetric and Plum Analytics can be used to gain insight into what attention your research is getting on social media e.g. number of tweets. To ensure that social media activity is captured, include a permanent identifier such as a DOI with your content. For more information, see the Altmetrics page.