Looking good on social media

A great tool for this is Rebelmouse which picks up on my tweets. It prompted me to consider how to include more pictures into my blog posts, recently. And now it has got me thinking about how a researcher can “look good” on social media.

I blogged recently about what might incentivise a researcher to upload published outputs online, and one of the criteria was that their research should “look good”. I also blogged recently about my mini-strategy for social media  where I state as my first goal that I want a “professional-looking” profile. So really, it boils down to the question: What do I mean by “looking good”? And what does this mean to a researcher? Here are some answers along with my tips!

Great content

This is a top priority, to use social media to say stuff that I believe is meaningful and valuable, and sometimes to be a little original, at least within the community/network I belong to. I also try to write in a way that is accessible and friendly but not too informal. My pictures are… well, secondary.

For researchers, others might create content about your work, and being present in social media enables you to engage with them to build more great content. (This is where Altmetrics becomes of interest as you can use altmetrics tools to see what others are saying about your papers.)

Other people’s work provides a content source: you can review at great length or simply re-tweet, re-blog or collate others’ content. I think people who only re-tweet are essentially curating content for themselves whilst at the same time having a social media presence: it isn’t original work, but the collating and reporting role is pretty useful to us all. Twitter is great at the reporting role & reaching people, but not so great at curating, in my opinion. Read more about curation tools in a forthcoming blog post!

Academic (and authentic)

I’m not an academic, so this isn’t my own concern but rather one that I think researchers will need to display. Having said that, I do want to show a certain level of thoughtfulness and appreciation for academic ways. The LSE blog has some great advice for researchers on using social media as an academic. The concept of social media and its suitability for “academicness” is a really big topic so I won’t try to explore it all here!

Instead of wanting to sound academic, I want to sound experienced and well-informed but also authentic, reflective and exploratory. 

Active

This is a balancing act of choosing what to share and how, and not opening too many commitments for yourself! I’m active in the channels that matter to me, but I need to make it clear to anyone who stumbles across any out-of-date profile of mine, where I am actually active. My mini-strategy describes what I’m aiming to achieve in terms of activity levels with my blog, Twitter & LinkedIn and I’ve recently updated profiles on other sites to point out that I am active on those sites.

The tool I regularly use to curate content for myself these days is Evernote. And I haven’t yet chosen to share information about that activity, socially. I suppose that I’m active enough “out there”. I don’t want to flood other people’s feeds and annoy them! But if I wasn’t active in other ways, then sharing my curation activity would be a good time-saver.

Visually attractive

I choose profile photographs carefully! I want to look  reasonably professional and competent, but also to display a little personality and approachable-ness. I also try not to change the photos too often, but to keep them up-to-date, so that folks can recognise me. I’m not using my photo as a kind of “brand”: I like that when LinkedIn displays my WordPress profile it is with a different picture of me, so that maybe piques interest in the new source but still provides recognisable-ness for those who meet me.

Twitter and WordPress also allow me to use images on my home page/wrapper for my social media activity, and indeed in my content, along with formatting options for blog posts on WordPress. There’s a lot more that I could do on this front, so I’m really pleased that Rebelmouse provides a visually attractive view of my content with very little effort from me. Even though it’s just the same content as you would find on Twitter, I think it looks nice so perhaps I should promote it more… like mentioning it here 😉

Responsive

This is more important to me than “social”. I have been thinking quite a bit about whether I should tweet thanks for people who re-tweet my content, and how to respond socially online. I don’t think I’ve got the perfect protocol but as a minimum, I do aim to respond to anyone who tweets directly at me, either publicly or privately, and indeed to any comments on my blog. Ideally, I would also do this in a very timely fashion, but this is subjective and I’m often busy so I’m also a fan of “better late than never”! Also, I’m aware that some tweets at me are really more of a courtesy, an attribution or a citation, and so they don’t require a response except maybe a private thank you.

Thought-through & Linked-up

So I’ve got a blog and a twitter feed and I use LinkedIn and I have an ORCID and presence in Rebelmouse, on Slideshare and all sorts of other profiles besides. How do these all link up to each other and relate to each other? How can I make it easy and efficient for the person who wants to find out about me, to navigate through all of these profiles? I keep mentioning that I only update LinkedIn and that I’m active on Twitter & WordPress, so I don’t need to feel guilty every time Academia.edu tell me that another person has discovered my profile through a Google search. I’ve laid a trail! I’ve a feeling that ORCID is going to be the answer… at least, in the academic setting.

Popular

Tricky, this one… I mean, how do I look popular and why would I want to?! If I know that I’m creating good content, so why do I need the validation of popularity? But the opinion of one’s peers matters, and for researchers the attention from the wider community is an indicator of where to look for impact.

I do make it clear which measures of my social media activity I want to measure, in my mini strategy and this is a space I’m still watching. Basically, I’m interested in what measures are available for and from the tools/channels that I actively use, and whether they mean anything to me depends on what I’m trying to achieve.

How do I use this information to look popular? I don’t, but I see that LinkedIn, ResearchGate and other such sites are publishing attention numbers for me. Since a lot of the measures are new and people don’t fully understand or trust them, this is not a big deal at the moment because I don’t think folks are looking, but it might be in future. Depending on who is looking and whether or not one cares!

I expect that there are lots more aspects to “looking good on social media” that I could consider, but that’s my round-up for now!

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