How Twitter Enhances Scientific Careers

Specific, Consistent, Relevant: How Twitter Improves Scientific Careers

Have you ever wondered why Twitter is the preferred social media platform for academics? Why is academic Twitter so important to recruitment committees? So keep reading.

I am Digitally internalized And anything but a Active social media user. But I have always been interested in translating complex research ideas into simple language. My work on research translation and public involvement has brought me closer to academics who excel in scientific influence and are considered influencers on Twitter. These researchers write opinion articles on the blog and write, run their own podcasts or YouTube channels. They are visible in their local communities in science pub quizzes or around the world through TED lectures. Their career paths, scale and work range are diverse, but they all have one thing in common: their Twitter updates are specific, relevant and consistent.

In my Mentoring work on the impact sciences, I often meet early-career researchers who are still defining or looking for their specific field of research. Many have diverse interests and have yet to find their intellectual home in the form of a professional network. Their content and communication style are not unique enough to differentiate them from other researchers with similar interests. It takes a few years to find the niche area of ​​your discipline or make your voice heard in major media outlets, but the good news is that joining Twitter can speed up this process. Based on the ideas I described in the researcher book Digitally Agile*I developed three simple rules.

Rule One: Put it down

Writing your biography on Twitter is a great thinking exercise for determining your niche. Your Twitter biography should be specific enough to define your unique interests and broad enough to capture the broad interests of a global audience. Think of an elevator pitch it says: In 160 characters you need to convey who you are, what your research is about and why it is important. The key is the right keywords in the right order. Keywords, especially those preceded by hashtags, connect diverse audiences interested in the same topic. The more specific and unique your choice of keywords is, the more likely your profile is to attract significant followers.

Try to start with your job name (PhD candidate), or your passion (dedicated to human rights). Extract information about where (university affiliation) and who you work with (tag colleagues or your lab). You can add a personal note (mother of three), but if you plan to share updates on your cats, I recommend setting up separate accounts for private and professional use.

Rule Two: Build trust in the community through consistency

Twitter algorithms are designed to group people with similar interests, which is a nightmare for Herd mentality But useful for increasing your professional network. The more keywords you search for and use the hashtags relevant to your research, the more you will design your network. The benefits of a Twitter research community are similar to those of a professional scientific company: You get to hear about new jobs and grants, recent publications, events and online seminars. Unless defined as private, Twitter’s algorithms will reward you with trending issues in similar communities. To take full advantage of your area of ​​influence, you need to be consistent in order for your audience to build trust in the content you share and pay attention to your tweets. This may mean that you need to engage with the platform on a regular basis, plan ahead and be an active listener. Be a good member of the community – emphasize the work of others and maintain an authentic conversation by responding to tweets from other accounts. Remember that re-tweeting is not only a kind gesture but also a way to create networks. Share and re-share specific, useful and valuable content for your followers. Make sure your writing and interaction style is always professional (if in doubt ask yourself, “Would I say that to conference colleagues?”).

Rule Three: Be Relevant

Once you set up your network, you get to interact with other researchers but also with people outside your university and different career stages. Popular topics will shape the way you broadcast your work. The short, simple and journalistic style of the Twitter language will spur you to write for interest. There are complete tutorials on how to compose viral tweets, but you can replace simple arguments (and the toxic social media culture that follows) with other attention-grabbing techniques. Express your ideas in a useful way with a call to action, abbreviated links and a mention of Twitter influencers. Use Relevant Images (If you are new to image-based research communication, Jessica Rodriguez’s Guide** To Twitter visuals worth reading). To enhance the authenticity of your media, consider tweeting not only about promotions and published articles, but also about rejections or unfinished ideas. Above all, remember to be modest in your regularities – striving to be relevant is an ongoing learning process.

Few academics will accept their research for the New York Times, but any academic can set up a Twitter account. To be considered for your career, follow these simple rules. Before you know it, you have found your niche and learned to communicate your research in a consistent and relevant way.

* Available for Purchase here.
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