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Tips for Academics: Social Media Lingo


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



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.




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 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.




This is Google’s social network and like Facebook it is used to connect with friends, families and colleagues. Users can share photos, send messages, and comment or like content.

Relevance to researchers

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




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.




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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Tips for Academics: Why Use Instagram

“The medium lands so well to science that some of the most popular Instagram accounts are of museum and universities”

What is Instagram

Most scientific disciplines, and some in the humanities, land themselves very well to visual media. People love to see chemists work in their labs, the discoveries that archeologist make in far away lands, the world under a biologist’s microscope, or the marvels seen through a physicist’s telescope.

Instagram is a social media platform that lets users share these photos and videos. If you want science to be more accessible, we highly recommend that you maintain an account. It will give you the opportunity to interact with people who would other never be expose to your blogs, papers or discoveries. You can also answer their questions.

Maintaining an Instagram account is very manageable since it only requires posting pictures, and not writing long blog posts. To save time, we encourage you to use services like Buffer to schedule posts (aim for two per day). Posting daily can be too much for busy academics. With these services you can dedicate half an hour one day per week to choose what and when to post for that week.

What to Share on Instagram

Like with other social media platforms, the goal of Instagram is to build a community around your blog. The time that you spend building that community will determine the size of your fan base. To help you come up with ideas on how to build your community, we wrote a good article on what to post on social media; it includes:

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Tips for Academics: Managing Trolls

Harassment is a major problem online, especially for women. It manifests itself when people, referred to as trolls, attack or harass individuals and businesses. Their attacks tend to be cruel, relentless and very personal. If poorly managed, they can hijack your account, destroy the good vibes in your community or escalate to physical threats.

How to manage trolls

Although it can be emotionally tolling, we hope that trolls will not deter you from building a community of science lovers. Here are a few tips that you can use to manage online trolls:

24 hours rule

Gini Dietrich explains that “online trolls want the attention. They crave the defensiveness. They want you to get upset. Don’t give them that pleasure”. Instead, our most important suggestion is immediately writing a respectful response to each comment. But send that response 24 hours later, after reviewing it. This delay will allow emotions to simmer since your first reaction will probably be an emotional and incorrect one. It will also discourage trolls who typically look for instant gratification. Continue reading “Tips for Academics: Managing Trolls”

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Tips for Academics: Why It’s a Bad Idea to Purchase Followers

Thankfully as an academic, your work and not your following determines your worth

Users consider the number of followers when deciding whether to subscribe to an account. As a result, it is common for individuals to buy thousands of followers in the hopes of attracting real users. In fact, countless celebrities, politicians and companies have been caught buying fake followers.

Account holders can purchase inactive followers or, for a premium, there are services where these fake followers will occasionally comment and like posts. With a market rate of about $3 for every 1,000 inactive followers or $100 for 1,000 “active” followers, purchasing followers can be quite affordable.

Although it may be tempting, we highly recommend avoiding these services and building your community organically. Thankfully as an academic, your work and not your following determines your worth. Unlike celebrities and politicians you can build a strong community by regularly posting interesting fact based articles or even pictures of your experiments. Continue reading “Tips for Academics: Why It’s a Bad Idea to Purchase Followers”