I don’t think it’ll be news to you that I like social media, and I think it is VERY useful for academics. Not just for working with other academics, but to engage future students and share findings with a broader audience.
But what I have not done is tell you a bit about my social media strategy and how it has evolved over time.
So here goes….
When I started
I joined the main channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and shared content as and when I saw fit. This mean the posts were ad hoc. They were not really related to anything specific. Nor did I have a goal in mind.
As things developed
I attend a few free and paid workshops. Those taught me that a social media strategy would probably be better than an ad hoc approach. So, I defined my ideal follower. In marketing and sales, this is often called the buyer persona. This included taking into account my preferences and strengths relating to social media content.
I still posted content as and when I saw fit, but now everything (or most things) went through the filter of “Will it serve my audience” or “How does this relate to my strategy”. The value of this approach was made evidence when I was helping a centre of excellence. The social media strategy there included gaining followers from key national and international (Twitter) accounts. And having a deliberate strategy meant any time there was something related to these accounts we would ensure we tagged or otherwise included them in the tweets or follow-up comments. The same centre of excellence also showed my power of having a hashtag that you use most or all of the time. Something that is unique to you. For me, that is #pracademic. I don’t own it. Not by any stretch. But I did use it lots.
So, workshops and watching others taught me the value of strategy and hashtags. At this point I dropped Facebook and started Instagram – as well as continuing on LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Getting more prolific
Watching others on social media, I was keenly aware of how regularly and frequently they were posting. For some, it was several times a day always at the same time. It got me wondering how they were doing that AND STILL DOING OTHER WORK?!
That was when I started looking around for tools to help post social media. The tools have since changed but the approach is the same. Create a bunch of content in advance and then schedule its distribution across channels as appropriate.
Very quickly, I ran out of content. Whenever I wanted to add stuff to social media I did not have anything to post. So, I started creating a list of social media post ideas. It started off as sticky notes and became a notebook within OneNote. Whenever I have an idea for a post I save it here. Then, when I was scheduling social media, I had a ready list of ideas to use.
So, watching others helped me find scheduling tools to take the hassle out of actively posting on social media.
What happens now
More recently, I hired an assistant, James. He’s the one that makes things happen now. I typed this blog. He put it in the newsletter, and on the website.
Having an assistant meant I had to change social media tools. I needed a tool that allowed multiple users. I also needed James to be able to set stuff up for my editing and approval.
We started off using MS Excel. But that didn’t last long. Then we upgraded to a professional package with one of the scheduling platforms. And now we use a CRM.
Instead of post ideas being words, they are now mostly pictures or videos. The pictures are saved in a shared folder. James creates a draft post – essentially a picture or video without a caption. I then add the copy, and the post goes out.
This process taught me to let go of my preconceived ideas of what people will or won’t like. James doesn’t filter the images or videos. They are just drafted for me to review and approve. I have let go of the idea that they need to be perfect. As a result, I have learned perfection doesn’t engage my following as well as imperfection. I’ve also seen content flourish that I assumed wouldn’t go well.
In all of this, I should say that I still engage directly with others on social media. All likes, responses, comments, and reshares are mine. Not a bot. Not my assistant. And I find that is a perfect augmentation to the automated process I use to share most of my content.
“Thanks for your teaching Dr Richard Huysmans. Excellent session yesterday learning how to effectively use social media for different research and industry purposes. For those hesitant to jump into the online space, I highly recommend Dr Richard Huysmans’ informative, personalised workshop.”
Katrin Oliver, Social Worker, PhD candidate
Dr Richard Huysmans is the author of Connect the Docs: A Guide to getting industry partners for academics. He is the co-author (with Jane Anderson) of the only LinkedIn program dedicated to helping researchers attract industry partners and translate their research. LinkedIn For Research Translation provides an in-depth guide to using LinkedIn for academic gain in an industry-led setting (LinkedIn). With Jane, Richard has helped researchers raise more than a quarter of a million dollars solely via LinkedIn. He has taken that approach and delivers high quality practical advice to the education, research and government sectors in the use of social media for academic and career progress. He is driven by the challenge of helping researchers make use of practical tools for greater impact. He knows social media and how make it work for research.
He is passionate about the positive impact social media can make to academic life.
To find out more, call 0412 606 178, visit his shop, email (Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org) or subscribe to the newsletter. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, Spotify, YouTube, and Medium.