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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!

 

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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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Outside the box

  1. Quotes: Funny or motivational quotes from giants and lesser known people in your disciplines. For your regular followers, you can have a quote of the day or quote of the week segments. If you need inspiration, Brainy Quotes and Goodreads have thousands of great quotes categorized by author, subject, year…
  2. Infographics: Infographics are a representation of information in a graphic format designed to make the data easily understandable at a glance. They are quite popular as it is cool way to present fairly complex things. For inspiration, Daily Infographics has a big library of infographics organized by topics.
  3. Share study materials: Not only can your followers give you tips, but you can also help them. Students who follow you will be forever thankful if you share cheat sheet, diagrams that break down complex material or clever tips. Being an authority in your field, these tools are easily accessible to you, but can make a world of a difference to your followerss
  4. Fact or fiction: Have fun with the fake news trend by having a poll where you ask your followers if a news article is indeed true. When the poll is closed, you can then explain why or why not it is fake news.
  5. Celebrate International Days: It seems like everything has its own day. Use a tool like Days of the Year, to see what the world is celebrating and write a quick post about it. It can be goofy like Sherlock Holmes Day or something that deals directly with your research like International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22).
  6. Naming things: As with pets, sports team and human children, people are most attached to something that has a name. Run a poll to figure out a name for lab equipment, discoveries, acronyms… This is not only a good way to showcase your work space and work, but it is also a fun way to explain what you do.
  7. Talk about your students and staff: You would not be able to accomplish half of what you do without your team. Let your followers know all the great work that they do and their accomplishments.
  8. Videos: People love to watch and share videos. Take advantage high tech camera found in your smart phones and film your experiments. If you need help with filming  and editing you can visit www.5minofscience.com we specialize in remote film coaching and we professionally edit amateur footage in our studios.

 

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Recommendations

  1. Recommend equipment: Another way to be useful to your followers is to provide recommendations on a range of topics. You can, for instance, recommend equipment that you particularly like, such as a microscope, a software, beaker…
  2. Recommend a bookYou can also recommend a book that you particularly like and provide a quick a good reason on why your readers should read it. You can start a monthly book recommendation or poll your followers once a month on a book to read.
  3. Share a tip: Users will love you if you can share tips on how to more efficiently work. This can be a shortcut for doing an experiment (biology), a rarely used function in a statistics software (social sciences) or how to keep warm in the Antarctica (ecologist).
  4. Recommend someone to follow on social media: Get positive karma by acknowledging the great work done by your colleagues. Regularly recommend experts and encourage your followers to like or to follow them.
  5. Share research: On top of recommending people to follow, you can share your colleagues’ interesting research and newest discoveries with a brief explanation of their significance. It can include the abstract of academic papers, summaries of magazine articles, or links to podcast and video interviews.
  6. Recommend an event: Recommend interesting events. They do not have to relate directly to your work and can purely be for entertainment (researchers can have fun?!). Ideally, they would be online event.

 

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Links

  1. Links to an old blog post: You don’t have time for a totally new post? If you run a blog, recycle your old posts to gain new engagement and extend their lives. This is especially true if the topic of the post has resurfaced in the news.
  2. Links to guest posts: If you contribute to other sites (highly recommended), write articles for magazines or do interviews, share, and re-share from time to time, those links.
  3. Explain breaking news: When news breaks, your followers will look for an expert to explain it. Stay on top of what the news by using Google Alerts, and if you stumble upon something interesting or controversial give a brief explanation and your expert opinion. This can either be done through a Tweet or a longer blog post. If you use Twitter, make sure to include the appropriate Hashtag.
  4. Weekly round-up: You most likely read a lot of articles on your topic. Save the links of 4-5 and at the end of each week make a list of must read articles.
  5. Post excerpts and not just links: When posting a link, cut and paste an interesting quote from the article to catch your followers’ interest. This makes it much more likely that they will click on the post and share it.

 

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At work

  1. Behind-the-scenes photos: Facebook is a billion dollar company because it understood that people love seeing and sharing pictures. Taking candid and fun photos of yourself, your students or your assistants working are very easy posts. You will be surprise how big of a hit they can be.
  2. Share pictures and material from conferences: Hopefully you leave your lab sometimes. I highly recommend sharing photos and materials from your talks at conferences. For maximum exposure, include the events’ hashtags.
  3. Daily pictures or videos of your experiments: Science takes a lot of time and waiting for an experiment can be a bit boring. Whether it is done in your lab or in a faraway station in the Antarctica, soothe the boredom by sharing pictures and videos of how experiments are progressing with a short explanation of their significance. Your followers will make it a daily ritual to see the evolution of your work.
  4. Work-life balance tip: Young researchers, particularly new parents, are struggling with how to balance their career and their family life. You can write a blog post to share your experience and provide advice. It will show that you are not only a scientist, but also a real person who struggles just like them.
  5. A day in the life post: Under the same umbrella as sharing tips on balancing work and live, dedicate a week where you will give your followers a play-by-play of your life as a researchers. This will not only advice to young researchers on how to manage their lives, but inspire students, whether in undergrad or high school, by giving them a snapshot of a real scientist’s life.
  6. Awards and milestones: Your followers want to celebrate your achievements; give them that opportunities by telling them about your accomplishments. Just do not overdo it to the point that it becomes bragging.