In my experience there are two types of researchers promoting their content on social media. Those who do nothing, and those who say, “I’m so excited to announce my paper on [something] was published [somewhere].” Of course, there are a few who do what I suggest below (read on). But not many.
- If you want to improve your social media game;
- If you want to have people read, download and cite your research;
- If you want to have a better idea on how to share content relating to your research;
1. Prepare in advance - Don't just have a goal to share the publication and then try to make a post. Write something. Record yourself saying something. Draw something. Give yourself some time to come up with a post that works for you and is better than “Here’s my article on [topic] in [journal].”.
2. Draft as many posts as you can - They don't have to (won't) all end up on social media. But creativity is a numbers game. In order to have some good posts, you need lots of okay posts. If you’re a spreadsheet kind of person, make your posts in a spreadsheet. It allows you to add and organise your posts more easily than in a word processor. But you can really use whatever approach you find most useful, from white board, to butchers paper, to mind-map, and of course pen(cil) and paper. They key is to create a long list. Aim for at least ten before you stop. Maybe set a timer and only stop when the timer goes off.
3. Make them complete – Words are great. But I reckon a complete social media post has:
- A picture.
- Some text.
- The link to your paper - ideally free access.
So, in the list of draft posts you created, go back and add a picture and a link to the article. Not sure what a picture might be? No problem. Here are some options for pictures:
- Your face.
- The article start page.
- Figures from the article.
- You in the research setting.
- Your participants.
- Your desk.
- The front page of the journal you published in.
- Your co-authors.
- You celebrate article submission or acceptance.
4. Take them to the next level – Words and pictures, and links are great. But if you want to raise your game to the next level (again), you could also add or include:
- Audio - Read sections of the paper, describe how you felt, interview a co-author.
- Video - As above, but with you, your team, or something the looks good from your paper or related to your research. People like seeing other people. Although you may hate how you look on camera, your face will be a preferred over a still image of your data.
5. Focus on what you want to do in the future - This does not mean talk about what is next in terms of the research project, program of portfolio. Although it could include that. It means, focusing on the aspects of the work that you'd like to do again for or with someone else. For example, if you surveyed people, but hated analysing the qualitative responses, talk about building the survey, but not the analysis. If you liked bringing together the team, but hated working alone, talk about the team aspects, not the individual work you did. If you focused on a particular cohort, and you want to work with them more, focus your posts on that.
6. Tag others:
- Co-authors - Acknowledge their input as specifically as you cang., [@name] did [this]. But, at the very least tag them in the post. It will increase reach and engagement. It will also show your co-authors that you are worth collaborating with in the future as you acknowledge and attribute their contributions.
- The journal – It will increase reach, and engagement. If you are lucky, the journal might even comment back or share your post to their followers.
- Your host institution – You might not “love” your employer but tagging them is useful. Like tagging your co-authors, and the journal it will increase reach, engagement, and there’s the potential for a re-share, comment, etc.
- Funders – Who funded the research? Acknowledge them by thanking them in your social media post. At the very least, it can help close the loop on their funding of your work. It might also increase your chances of future funding.
7. Use hashtags - Article keywords are a good place to start. Lots of people use, and follow social media based on interactions with keywords. So, highlighting them by using a hashtag (#) in front of the keyword or phrase (all as one string of text, no spaces or punctuation). Before you use a hashtag, have a look at see how others have used it. Look at a few posts that have the hashtag. Maybe even like or comment on posts that use the hashtags you want to use. It’ll increase the likelihood that your content features prominently in the curated content focused on that hashtag. Broad hashtags (e.g. #research, #academia or #university) are okay. But there is a lot of content vying for attention. Narrow hashtags (e.g. #pracademic) are okay too. But there might be few people using or watching that tag.
8. Give me a reason to read - Don't just say, "I wrote an article on [topic] with [people] for [journal] supported by [university].". Instead say, "Using [method], [author] and I analysed [topic/subject]."; "In writing [article] I was reminded of [something in the introduction]"; "Our [key finding] is explored in detail in [article]"; [method] was used to demonstrate the importance of [finding] in [topic]"; "[finding] of our [article] implies [future research]"; "for the first time I did [analysis/technique/write-up] in [article] and it was really fun!"; "[Author] was responsible for [approach/method/analysis] in our [article]. They are so good at [that stuff]!". Each post needs to give me a reason to read. For most people most of the time, knowing you published is not going to compel me to read your article. You might even include the major finding of your article in the post. That’s okay – good even – because now I know what you found. If that interests me, I go to the article. If not, I know you’re an expert in a specific topic. I can refer others to you later.
9. Use a scheduling tool – There are lots of free tools that will allow you to draft, and then schedule social media posts to a range of channels. If you're not sure what tools to use, do a web search for "social media scheduling" and there'll be plenty of options to choose from.
Good luck improving your social media game.
Dr Richard Huysmans is the author of Connect the Docs: A Guide to getting industry partners for academics. He, in collaboration with Jane Anderson, has built the only LinkedIn program for research translation. 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.
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