Using social media to disseminate your research
It might be easy to dismiss social media as a trivial pursuit BUT… in between the endless viral dance videos and cat memes, there is a corner for you to share and discuss your work and new research – you just need to know where to look.
In this guide, you can discover the benefits of using social media as a researcher, as well as a rundown of popular platforms, handy tips and best practices to help elevate your online presence.
Why it’s good to use social media as a researcher
Overview of popular social media platforms
Best practice and tips
- Do consider ethical and legal implications when using social media for sharing your research such as ensuring that you have complied with data protection legislation and anonymised or pseudonymised your data accordingly. Find out more in our Anonymisation and pseudonymisation section.
- Do try to post and engage regularly to help build your followers and improve your posts’ performance in the platforms’ algorithm
- Don’t be afraid to post about the same work, project or event more than once. Most posts on social media only have a lifespan of 15-20 days so to increase the chances of followers seeing your content, consider posting about the same topic more than once. You can re-frame the content or focus on a different angle to keep it fresh. For instance, if you’re trying to promote an upcoming event you’re organising, you could send a general announcement with the event details, another post with more detail about the event’s focus, another post focused on the speaker, etc.
- Do include images in your posts. Posts with images perform better in the algorithms and often improve engagement.
- Do use popular hashtags in your posts. When using them, try to incorporate the hashtag phrase in the main text instead of tagging it on to the end of the post.
- Do make your content as accessible as possible. This includes:
- Adding alternative text to images and gifs
- Avoiding the use of more than 1-2 emoji’s per post
- Using capitalisation in hashtags e.g #LongitudinalResearch and not #longitudinalresearch
- Avoiding the use of ALL CAPS in your posts
- Writing in plain English
- Do be wary of trolls! Depending on the content and context, sometimes it can be best to either ignore, mute, block or report accounts posting inappropriate or offensive content. Don’t feel obliged to engage with them.
- Do use national/international awareness days to flag your relevant research and work. For instance, consider posting about your latest mental health research during Mental Health Awareness Week – and always include the official hashtag.
- Do remember to tag other users/accounts in your posts where relevant. For instance, when posting about a piece of research, include any collaborators, your organisation, funder, and the journal where the research has been published. You may also want to consider tagging relevant third-sector organisations.
- Do follow relevant hashtags to network with other researchers working in a similar field.
- Do make use the thread feature to get around the character limit on individual posts. The thread feature allows you to string multiple posts together so that they appear all together on newsfeeds. This is a great way to go into more detail about certain topics. Many academics use threads to promote their newly promoted papers and will begin with a general announcement before going into a more detailed summary of the methods, results and conclusions.
- Do consider live-tweeting from academic events. Many events will have an official hashtag you can use when posting about the event. This is a great way to engage and network with other delegates at the event. High-value posts often focus on key takeaway messages from sessions and summarise key points from presentations and discussions. Event hashtags are also a useful way to follow along with events you’re unable to attend in person.