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Tips for Academics: Social Media Lingo

Platforms

Platforms are networks where users can share content and engage with followers

Bloggers

Blogs are platforms where web content is published. Posts are indexed by search engines for easy retrieval. They allow users to post material such as articles, news, pictures, videos… Blogging platforms include Blogger and WordPress.

Relevance to researchers

Blogs can be used to post long articles about current research or your ones take on things that are going on in the news.

Buffer

It can be very time consuming to regularly post content on social media. There are services such as Buffer and Hootsuites that let users write posts ahead of time and schedule when they will be put online.

Relevance to researchers

Buffer allows researchers to write when they have time and post when the content will be read by the most people. They also offer analytics to understand what your followers want to see.

Facebook

Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking website. Through Facebook, users can connect to family, friends, colleagues, fans and customers. They can add photos, post status updates, create events

Relevance to researchers

Facebook can be used to create a community with people interested in your work.

Instagram

Instagram is a free photo sharing platform where users can post photos, apply filters, edit and post to their Instagram account or cross-share on other networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Relevance to researchers

Researchers can post pictures of their labs, experiments and excursions to show followers that what they do is pretty cool.

LinkedIn

This social network is geared towards professionals and businesses. Users create connections with their colleagues and can follow organisations’ pages.

Relevance to researchers

LinkedIn can be used to post resumes and professional credential to gain followers in their field of work.

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Tips for Academics: What to Post on Social Media

Determining what to post on social media can be a daunting task. Here are some fun ideas on what you can share with your followers. If we missed something, include it in our comment section!

Direct interaction with followers

  1. Polls: Facebook and Twitter offers the option to post polls. They are an effective way to have two way communication with your followers. There are so many questions that you can ask. They include, which of these is their favourite flower (botanist), the most impactful Shakespeare play (literature), predictions on interest rate moves (economist)…
  2. Requests: In the same category as polls, you can ask your followers to post pictures or videos of something in your field of research. It can be pictures of stars (astrophysics), a video of them doing an experiment (chemist) or a picture mushrooms or tracks (biologist).
  3. Photo contest: Pushing the requests thing a bit further, ask for photo submissions that your followers can vote on. This will not only create engagement, but by asking their friends to vote for them, you will tap into their network.
  4. Caption contest: Instead of a photo contest, you can ask your fans to come up with funny captions for a picture that you have posted. This can be of you working in the lab, of a weird plant species that you discovered, or of a failed experiment.
  5. Follower of the month: When it is well done, social media is a two way conversation between the poster and its followers. Let your most active followers know that they are appreciated by profiling them as the follower of the month.
  6. Ask for inputs on your work: You might be intimidated about receiving negative feedback, however, I strongly encourage you to seek feedback from your followers. For researchers it can be to ask how a talk could be improved or for a museum curator requesting feedback on an exhibition. You will not only receive useful feedback, but your followers will appreciate your vulnerability.
  7. Answer questions: You can dedicate a day where you will answer any question from your followers. If you are an administrator of a faculty, a museum, a university or college, you can make this initiative even more wide spread and choose a different faculty every week who to be questioned.
  8. Ask for contents ideas: Continuing with the theme of asking your followers questions. You can ask them what content they would like to see or what big questions they would like answered. This will not only help you post more relevant post, but if it is a truly interesting recommendation, it can also drive future research.
  9. Respond to tags and mentions: Try to respond to your followers. It takes courage to send a message and responding would mean the world to them. However, if they become nasty, do not hesitate to block them.
  10. Saying thank you: This takes the least effort and goes the longest way.

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