5 Truths about Social Media in Academia

Streetart, Val Paraiso (Chile)

Streetart, Val Paraiso (Chile)

Social media has not only become key in business to distribute your products but also central in research to promote your thoughts and publications. It's about the right time to open up your research for a broader audience. There are numerous guides and even guides of guides out there how businesses should pursue social media. However, regarding researchers, there is still not sufficient material about the most basic questions. What's the point of social media in academics? Why should I do that and how? I, therefore, wrote down from my experience why and how you may pursue your social media vision in academics.

1 Social media is no option

There may be no alternative, there is nothing else you may do to reach out with your research. It's just that: social media! And if you may consider to refuse it, you may not only miss huge opportunities but challenge the idea of the academic profession to create and share your knowledge. This may sound harsh and is obviously provocative, but if your goal as a researcher is to publish and share your ideas. Why wouldn't you then consider self-publishing in social media? Do you fear that your content isn't strong enough? Do you fear that you make a grammer or spelling mistake? Do you fear the extra work-load? What is it that hinders you to publish in social media?

2 There is no perfect channel, just go for all

There has been a lot of discussion in the net about what is the perfect channel for academics, where should I focus my attention on. Is Twitter sufficient? Do I really need a blog? Should I get a facebook page? What should I do on Researchgate or Academia? Instagram as an academic, you are kidding right? If you want to reach a broad audience (and why wouldn't you want that?) go for all! Twitter is like a marketplace everyone shouting out, you wanna be there, listen, shout out, ask and answer. For a reason, Twitter is the most used media channel by researchers. A blog allows you to brand your own thoughts with 1000-2000 words. Diversify your research and publish without the need to pass the journal's gate keepers, create content that your audience cares about, besides what you do, particularly how you do your research! Simplify your abstract research thoughts and you will see that in turn your research will become much more simple, too.  Researchgate or Academia helps you self-archive your publications and follow other researchers. Answer questions of your field and provide others with your research. Use Slideshare to self-archive your research presentations and spread them. There is no quicker way to absorb knowledge than flipping slides. Now, what about instagram and facebook? If you love to take pictures, you Iike to observe and write, go for Instagram and link your pictures to Twitter and your blog. Facebook and Linkedin are the biggest and most developed social media places. Some of the best groups of academics are out there that like to discuss your content. Why wouldn't you like to be there, too?

3 Your role is already to create and share knowledge

What's the point of all that? What's my role as researcher? You might rightfully ask. Well, actually your role in society is to create knowledge and develop or lead a public discussion. You teach, moderate, observe, analyse and write. Why don't you go digital with it? Scaling is free. It is recommended to use some professional social media integrator such as hootsuite and, then, your 360 knowledge distribution is just as ready as it can get. Right now what drives your citation as a scholar is to publish in a high ranked journal and the size of your social network within the research community. I talked with several expert and they all agreed that a strong social media presence will become a third citation driver in the future. Especially for young scholars, social media bears the opportunity to enter closed research communities, that you might have no chance to enter before.

4 Take back control of your unique online presence

Many feel that the content they would create, may not be unique enough. The internet is large and how may you possibly be able to create something that distinguishes itself. First and foremost, your content is going to be unique because you are unique. Besides your content, what people care about is you. Social media provides the opportunity to get to know a person, his views and ideas. In turn, you should provide your audience with some personal information besides your professional information. This may mean for several people to get out of their comfort zone, but if you are a scholar, give classes, publish papers, may be asked for a comment for the news, you are already public. As a matter of fact, if you create content, you take back control. Instead of the negative student comment that appears first when you google yourself, your content will appear there. Creating your own content is possibly the only way to take back control of your online presence.

 5 Nobody pays us for social media, yet!

Last but not least, you might rightfully ask, who will pay me for that? Given the growing importance of social media for scholars and universities, it should be recognized as part of the job and as such included into the working profile and paid accordingly in order to avoid an imbalance of life and work (click here for more).  So get out there, spread the word, and tell us your thoughts using the hashtag #scholarsgetviral.