It is no secret that social media can be an effective method of connecting with a worldwide audience. Universities love their social media, and academics already using platforms understand how social media can prove essential for professional development.
Social media is an academic’s best friend, allowing research to be accessed by a wider audience of academic peers. There aren’t many academics who are happy to get left behind within their research communities. Despite the occasionally tarnished image of social media, such as Twitter, that hits the headlines, the reality is more favourable. Proactive engagement combined with an open mindset can prove an effective formula in creating positive outcomes. The effectiveness of Twitter lies in its micro blog facility. 140 words, little and often, can disseminate the important research message in an instant. Academics need to be mindful not to adopt a scattergun approach with social media platforms like Twitter. Integrating the platform into the specific research subject as well as identifying what the goals of tweeting are, will produce the best results. Put simply, this is about strategic tweeting and building networks that are relevant to objectives.
Releasing research from the study or lab into the vast open spaces of the blogosphere or twitterverse allows wider audiences to find out more about research and researcher. There is nothing to really dislike about this notion considering that, in a networking context, it is pure gold for any academic who wants their research to connect globally. Raising the profile of the researcher as well as the research can help increase opportunities for recognition more effectively than staying within a niche audience.
LinkedIn is another platform to network with likeminded and similar individuals and groups. By creating a strong profile and social CV, there is ample opportunity for academics across the globe to link up, share ideas and enhance research. It is hard to imagine any academic researcher wanting to miss out on citations, invitations and grants. It follows, therefore, that being part of stimulating and influential communities through LinkedIn can prove crucial in professional development. Similarly, SlideShare allows users to reach targeted audiences through several modalities, including presentations, slideshows and documents. Engaging with a targeted audience can help raise the profile of academics and their research, building reputation with the right people and gaining exposure to professional opportunities.
The older sibling of social media, blogs are useful for introducing research, and when connected to other social media profiles, such as Twitter, increase the opportunity to broaden audience engagement. Blogs are a great way to develop a voice, have conversations through links and comments, as well as a way to target an audience through the use of keywords within blog posts.
Consider engaging with social media as not a question of taking on more work, but rather about gaining access to those channels offering professional development and recognition that would otherwise be impossible.
Four Broadgate are education PR specialists