What are the benefits of using social media?

Social media allows you to:

  • promote your research and increase its visibility
  • communicate directly and quickly with others who have an interest in your research
  • develop new relationships and build networks
  • reach new audiences, both within and outside academia
  • seek and give advice and feedback
  • generate ideas
  • share information and links (eg journal articles and news items)
  • keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments, and forward it to others instantly
  • follow and contribute to discussions on events (eg conferences that you can't get to in person)
  • express who you are as a person.

Building a social media presence

In order to use social media effectively you will need to develop an online presence that is relevant and interesting for fellow researchers and other audiences. You should use your online presence to promote yourself and your research.

You will need to invest some time in building this presence, particularly at the outset when you are trying to build initial interest in your work.

You also need to sustain your social media activity. Many people and organisations have set up resources like blogs and Twitter accounts that they have neglected. You need to engage regularly and be interesting for people to take an interest in you and your research.

Which social media resources should you use? 

There are many social media tools you can use but you need to ensure that the resources you use work for you and that you have time to devote to them. Don't try to have a presence on every social media platform. It's best to use one or two resources well, rather than a large number badly.

Blogs and Twitter are perhaps the most common and effective tools for promoting your research. They work well together as you can use Twitter to promote your blog posts and drive traffic to your blog.

Other resources may also be appropriate depending on the nature of your research. For example, if you produce videos then you may also want to develop your own YouTube channel or if you wish to share image collections then Pinterest or Flickr may be useful.

LinkedIn can be a valuable networking and career development tool for researchers.