I also write for Piirus: a selection of my recent blogposts for them

As a freelancer, one of my clients is Piirus: they match researchers together so that they can work collaboratively, and I am their social media manager. Consequently, I’m writing a lot over on the Piirus blog! Lately, I’ve been participating in the Thesis Whisperer’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), called “How to Survive Your PhD“, and if you want to know what I’ve been finding out on that course then please do take a look at my latest blogpost for Piirus.

I also share a lot of my tips on using Twitter on the Piirus blog, including a kind of mini series lately on the hashtags that may interest anyone supporting researchers, or indeed researchers themselves. In other topics that I’ve blogged about for Piirus, I looked recently at motivations for digitisation and I shared tips for researchers considering crowdsourcing projects. If you’re interested in following my writing over on the Piirus blog then please do take a look. Although I will keep writing here too, of course!

Story telling and new ideas to listen to, for information professionals

When I’m just warming up of a morning, I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 podcasts. I’ve been picking my way through the series called Four Thought, where speakers share stories and ideas. There are three episodes in particular that I’d like to highlight for information professionals:

Maria Popova: The Architecture of Knowledge – a fascinating look at the way we handle information and create wisdom, incorporating views on knowledge from history but considering the modern, digital era of information overload. A great story!

Rupert Goodwins – tracks human behaviour on the Internet and considers: How can the Internet bring us together to discuss and share with each other in a respectful, reasoned way? How can we avoid arguments and incivility? The speaker has lots of experience and ideas.

This last talk is of interest because of the course I’ve been teaching at the Humboldt Uni IBI, on Information ethics. In the course, we explore all sorts of issues, including policies for websites that the students as information professionals of the future might play a part in hosting, and the ethical matters behind them, such as authenticity vs anonymity, moderating comments, handling whistleblowers, etc.

Another Four Thought that I found a little bit uncomfortable to listen to was:

Cindy Gallop: Embracing Zero Privacy – recommends taking control of your digital presence, and I agree with that. The speaker has some good ideas, chiefly that “we are what we do” in a very positive and empowering way, but what I find difficult is the notion that we can all live in such an open way. What about people who live in a society that is unaccepting of who they are?What about mistakes from the past, for which a debt has been paid: should they be laid forever bare? What about keeping a personal life personal, even whilst sharing matters of professional interest? On balance, I’m not a fan of zero privacy but this talk is a great opener for discussion.

There are plenty of other talks that provide food for thought in the Radio 4 podcast archives, on all sorts of topics and not only in the Four Thought series. I also like the Reith Lectures, the “Life Scientific”, and “In Our Time”… so much more to listen to!

My favourite social media “rules”

If you’re thinking of creating your own social media strategy (or updating an existing one), then you could do worse than read through these 80 “rules”. It seems aimed at companies using social media for financial gain, and some of the advice seems suitable to those building social media tools. A lot of it is focussed on the role of the audience or tool users, and much of it is just good advice for us all. Here are excerpts from a few of my favourites:

  • No. 9. “Go wherever your audience is”: So, choose Twitter or Facebook, or Google+, according to the people who you want to reach.
  • No. 12. “Update your page or delete it”: Easier said than done, but definitely good advice!
  • No. 23. “Just because you can measure everything doesn’t mean that you should”. They also develop the point to say that “likes and mentions look good on a report, but will not keep you in a job”. They suggest that ROI (Return on Investment), or NPS (Net Promoter Score) will, but perhaps your own job will depend on other criteria!
  • No. 24 Social media is not cheap or easy. (It later explains in rule 74 that Gangnam Style was a carefully planned success, rather than a viral success!)
  • No. 42 “If fans start publishing and sharing your content without permission, offer to help”

Finally, lots of these rules seem to say that it’s all about speed, not perfection, and that you should have a higher purpose. To paraphrase: get stuff out there, and make sure it’s going to make lives easier, happier, or more rewarding!


What is a re-blog?

I’ve been blogging for  years, but this is a feature of WordPress that wasn’t available on Warwick Uni’s own blogging platform. I like it as a way of engaging with other bloggers whose content I like (like re-tweeting and blog commenting all rolled into one!), plus it’s a way of providing content to anyone following my blog, when I find something of interest from somewhere else and don’t have time to write a lot myself.

It feels a bit like cheating, to me, because of the lack of effort, but if someone re-blogged my content with proper attribution (which WordPress does) and a friendly introductory comment, then I’d be happy. I note that in order to read the full post that I’ve re-blogged, you have to visit the source blog in any case, so it ought to drive traffic to the blogs of people who I’ve re-blogged.

I noticed that my re-blogged content did not appear on my LinkedIn updates (Aside: Who sees what in my Linkedin updates is increasingly a mystery to me!), even though my fresh blog content does seem appear there. But a re-blogged post does get tweeted and it appears to anyone subscribing to my blog through WordPress, of course.

Note to self: think about tweet appearance when commenting as I re-blog!

The elements displayed in that tweet are:

Title of blog post: my twitter handle: beginning of my comment: shortened link

All in all, a re-blog is a simple way to engage with social media.

Use ORCID to tie your profiles & outputs together in one place

I’m a fan of ORCID: their ID number is like an ISSN for researchers, to tie all your outputs & publications to your own name. It’s a very necessary initiative and they’re working with all the right people, so far as I can see.

I created an ORCID for myself, more than a year ago. My ORCID is completely unimpressive since I’m not a researcher, but how can I tell researchers about it without checking it out myself?!

During my big move, leaving the University of Warwick to live in Berlin and work freelance, I forgot to update ORCID with my personal e-mail address (I was bound to forget something!). Lately, I tried to update my ORCID and found that because I’d forgotten the password and no longer had access to the e-mail address I’d given them, I had to contact them directly. All so avoidable, if only I’d given them my other e-mail address in the first place! However, the staff were friendly and helpful, and now I’ve got access again.

ORCID has moved on a lot since I last looked… there are more options for content that you can add to your ORCID profile and I note that there are hundreds of suggestions for improvements from researchers who’ve used it! I know from my days as repository manager at Warwick, that people will always have ideas for what your tool could/should do, but the key is to focus on your core mission.

ORCID provides me with a profile, yes, but that’s not why I value it: I use LinkedIn for that, and others probably already use (or have to use!) their University profile webpage(s) or other websites. As I see it, the key mission for ORCID is to have the number to which other profiles & publications can be tied.

It’s so easy to add links to your website(s) on ORCID, and that’s what I recommend researchers to do, rather than using ORCID as a profile webpage (yet). The really important thing is to have the ORCID number, so that you can supply it to publishers when you publish in the future.

It is my view that ORCID is not the best academic profile site, in terms of displaying your work. It does offer you the ability to import your works from ResearcherID and SCOPUS, from PubMed and DataCite and various other sources, and that list is likely to grow (handy!). But I didn’t find it easy to manually add a work , and it seems as though, once a work has been added, you can’t edit it, and from what I can tell from comments of others, it’s not easy to de-duplicate from those import sources. Having said that, the manual adding form was simpler and easier than on some institutional repositories!

In my view it’s not an easy place to manage and maintain an online profile – yet! I daresay that will improve, so it’s a space to watch. In the meantime, it’s so easy to claim an ID and link to your profile elsewhere, that there is no reason not to do it!



So many online content platforms: where should you put research outputs?

You can deposit your work in LOADS of places*, but how do you choose where to bother depositing? Here’s what I’d look for when considering depositing my work somewhere online:

1- “linkedness“, ie they link to or feed into other tools you like or initiatives you are expected to take part in. Eg you can get altmetric.com data for your article from your institutional repository, ImpactStory data from Figshare and PLoS data from your publisher, or you can get an automatic tweet out of it, or your information will be used for your University’s website & performance reviews…

2- “long term”, ie there will be investment to retain the service for a while, preferably retaining the features that you value. Your work would thus be preserved, and your effort of depositing would have lasting benefits.

3- presentation: they should make you/your research look good!

4- discoverability: they should make your work discoverable, preferably in different ways to what your publisher might already do for your work. eg repository cross search tools like BASE, eg feeding webpages on Uni site.

5-attention-bringing: they might also include an element of “publicising” of your research too, eg they tweet the headings of all content added. They might also raise your reputation by association, eg they present your work alongside the top researchers in your field. To my mind, this is also a reason to look out for subject specialist sites/collections.

6- accessiblity: if they improve upon the accessibility to your work that your publisher gives, then this is also a reason to deposit. (eg repository versions that are open access)

What else could be added to this list? What examples are there of things that matter to you/your research community?

*Figshare, your institutional repository, subject repositories, Mendeley, Researchgate, your own webpage to name a few…

About Klout and how to measure social media ‘me’, especially on Twitter

What is the best way to measure your social media impact? The answer depends on which social media you’re using and what impact you’re aiming for, so finding the answer involves knowing what measures are available. If you don’t want to read my whole investigation below, the executive summary is that (for the moment) I’m really only interested in measures of clicks on links that I’ve tweeted. But that’s highly personal to me and to find out why and what else I found, read on…

Klout seems worth investigation (again: I blogged about Klout and one or two other tools once before), and I’m writing here about the free version, as indeed with other tools I mention. There are many such tools, and I must refer again to the excellent blog post on this topic by Imperial College Library.

Klout measures and provides an interface to various social media sites, including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • WordPress & Blogger
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare

Initially, I only linked it to my Twitter account. I got e-mail reports each week, comparing the last week with the week before. I just linked it to my LinkedIn account as well and apparently it reports on that monthly. And I have now added WordPress, too.

Klout and Twitter

I’m not sure what they’re measuring but I noticed that my score went down in a week where I tweeted once and there were no re-tweets or interactions with me on Twitter, compared with the previous week. That previous week was across Easter and I had not tweeted at all, neither had anyone interacted with me in any way on Twitter. My first thought was to compare the Klout score to the childish notion of counting Christmas cards received in comparison to how many one sent!  On reflection though, social is what Twitter is all about, so Klout is measuring what Twitter does and “giving in order to get” is not a bad idea, if you’re funded in order to reach a large group of people.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning here that Klout has a “perks” system through which you can earn privileges, but that’s also not my goal. Klout can measure more than just my Twitter activity so I will keep an eye on it now that I’ve linked two more profiles to it.

Like Hootsuite, Klout can create content for sharing across the networks that you’ve linked up with it, and schedule content to go out when you like. It also brings content to you that it thinks you might like to see. Perhaps this is an area that I should explore more, but I’m most interested in how it measures me, for now.

Apart from the weekly e-mails of my score, there is a section called “Measure” on Klout itself, and that gives a 90 day history. You can see a little blue line wiggling up and down across a graph, based on your overall score. This reminds me of Google Analytics, and it is useful in the same way. If interactions of the kind that Klout measures are what you intend to achieve,  and you know what activity led to a peak, it tells you something about the effectiveness of that activity.

A “Recent Activity” report tells me what I’ve tweeted and gives me dots according to how much each tweet has affected my score. All bar one of my tweets scored one dot (from a maximum of five), and now I can start trying to second-guess why one tweet scored two dots: I have an idea that it’s based on numbers of re-tweets and the score of the people who re-tweeted. (Also see below: I learn more about this tweet from Twitter and Hootsuite!)

In short, I’ve not seen something that’s right for me yet, on Klout, but there is a lot more for me to explore there.

Since I’ve really only looked at Klout for measuring Twitter, I ought to compare it with other tools that also measure me on Twitter. I don’t have time to look at them all, but  some other tools of interest are:

  • PeerIndex : seems a bit like Klout, at first glance, although the name sounds more serious, somehow.
  • Kred : see below
  • T-index : borrows the h-index method for measuring tweets & retweets!
  • Socialmention.com : I searched for my Twitter handle and got a score report straight away. Probably worth further investigation: I’m pleased with my 65% passion score. That’s a solid 2:1! But what does it really mean?
  • Twitter itself : see below
  • Twittercounter : see below
  • Hootsuite : see below

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Kred

Kred can be linked to both your Twitter and Facebook accounts, although I’ve only used it with Twitter. The first thing I noticed was a very busy dashboard measuring/reporting on all sorts of aspects. There is a global score, but you can also view your scores for within particular subject communities.

Kred explains that it gives two scores: influence (out of 1000) and outreach (out of 10). Influence is, according to Kred, “the ability to inspire action”. It is based on re-tweets, replies, mentions and follows. Outreach is based on your own re-tweeting, replying and sociability. Both scores can be affected by using +kred and thanking others for their influence. I do like the transparency about how scores are created. I didn’t find a community specific enough to my own interests which I thought was a shame.

Two days later, and I got an e-mail from Kred declaring me to be a “social media superstar” (and you’re not trying to flatter me into something?) and asking me to claim a .ceo domain. I did this, out of curiosity. It then picked up on my Twitter bio but in order to make its profile more than a slave to my Twitter profile, I would have to pay: of course!  I also found that I couldn’t  log in to Kred again, to check things for this blog post: possibly something to do with cookies. Two days later than that again, I also could not login, although it appeared to be a different problem. Oh dear!

Scott Levy compares Klout and Kred on Forbes.com and says that they are useful “to explore what someone does via social media, their interests, and even outreach”. Those writing about these sites (I googled “Klout vs Kred”) use phrases like “social influence”, “social authority” and “social credit”. They give advice that you should build a good network, have a strategy for sharing your content and leverage others’ influence to your advantage. That advice seems to me to be relevant to anyone wanting to build a good reputation, whether by social media or via traditional academic publishing & conference routes. The thing is, if you’re using social media then your score from any of these tools will reflect your reputation amongst those who also use social media.

I suppose that if I was going to be serious about social media and wanted to take such advice, then I’d want to use Kred to find people who are influential in the communities that I wanted to reach, and I’d look at the keywords for people who I was interested in following or adding to a list on Twitter, rather than just their timeline of recent tweets, which is what I do at the moment. But of course I’d only be able to do that for those who are on Kred, and maybe Socialmention.com (see above) would be better for reviewing others, since you can search for anyone’s Twitter handle there.

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Twitter itself

On Twitter, there is a Notifications link, and here you can see all the mentions you get, and when you’re added to a list, followed or a tweet is favourited, etc.  I monitor this but not particularly closely. I’m vaguely interested in how many/which of my tweets have been favourited. I don’t do this often myself, but perhaps I should, in order to understand faves better.

Under “Settings” on Twitter, there is a link to “Twitter Ads” and this has rich reports even if you haven’t paid for premium stuff. The tab here called “Analytics”  shows me my “Tweet Activity” and has a time line showing “follows”, “mentions” and “unfollows”. It also lists recent tweets and tells me various things about each one:

  1. the number of clicks on bit.ly links in my tweets (all to my blog, since I use Hootsuite’s tool normally, see below)
  2. which tweets have more than “normal reach”: the tweet that Klout gave 2 dots to, has 22 times normal reach
  3. faves, ie number of times a tweet has been favourited
  4. retweets (number of times)
  5. replies (number of times)

I can select to look at all tweets (default) or the “good” tweets (top third for me: oh look, a tweet with 43 times normal influence!) or the “best” tweets (top 15% for me).  Now I notice that it was also highlighting numbers that fell within these categories, in the default view. No surprises: I already knew that the “43” scoring tweet was well re-tweeted: it had a provocative announcement and I e-mailed about it and the blog post behind it to some contacts, too. I suppose it’s re-assuring to see what I might expect.

Also under “Analytics” there is a report on followers, which tells me which countries and cities my followers come from. It tells me their interests, who else they follow, and the gender balance, as well as tracking numbers through time and showing me that wiggly blue line on a graph. Ah, the lure of the wiggly blue line! I am a fish waiting to get hooked by it!!

There’s a lot more here for me to investigate: what are Twitter Cards, and what does it do with Websites? But I’ve seen enough: time is precious and I really don’t want to get hooked!

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Twittercounter

I registered for Twittercounter ages ago (September 2013, apparently), so at last there are some stats for me to look at. It allows me to compare myself with others on Twittercounter, but that’s not for me. It seems to focus a lot on number of followers. I am apparently ranked number #25,481,506 on Twitter, Worldwide. You can look at the top 100 and what they’re doing, so that could be good if you want to learn tips.

What I found most interesting, was that it picked up on hashtags on tweets where I am mentioned: in my case this was altmetrics, publishing and peerreview, but these are also the hashtags that Twittercounter tells me I tweet about, so it looks like people are tweeting about me when they re-tweet my tweets! I’m also not the world’s best at remembering to use hashtags, but this feature seems to me to have potential.

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Hootsuite

I use Hootsuite because I set up a nice tab page there ages ago, and it does everything I want to do with Twitter. (Tweetdeck does the same sort of stuff.) Hootsuite also sends me e-mails that I ignore (perhaps there are settings I should investigate?!) and has an “Analytics” section and a report on my profile. It is not as nice and clean looking as Klout’s report. But is it more valuable?

It tells me my number of followers and the number I’m following, and the number of lists in which I feature. It gives me three measures:

1) A graph that tracks the number of followers

2)A “keyword over time” graph. What’s that? A flat line, for me!

3) A list of my most popular links, with the tweets containing them. (seems to be based on the tweets I’ve made from within Hootsuite where I used their URL shortening tool so it can track if people have clicked on them.)

The report covers the last two weeks but I can alter the time period. I looked at the entire last year and my most popular link got 8 clicks. It is also the tweet that accrued two dots from Klout. Can Klout track this too? Or is there some kind of cause and effect, that what Klout is interested in has resulted in the number of clicks? Intriguing!

In conclusion

I am interested if people who follow me click on my links. This tells me that I’m contributing something of interest to others, since they seem to want to find out more. If no-one clicks on anything, then I’m either not saying interesting stuff, or I’m not in the right community, but either way I’m probably wasting my time. Not that I invest much time in Twitter, so overall, I’m happy that the level of interest matches my level of activity.

I invest a lot more time in WordPress than I do in Twitter, so really that’s what I ought to be measuring and monitoring, rather Twitter, although it turns out to be useful that my blog links are tweeted via a different URL shortening service, since I can see when Twitter brings readers to my blog, which is one of my goals when tweeting. Although I’m sure that there are other ways to do this.

Since I am on Twitter, it does me no harm to consider what I’m doing there and how I want to measure it or indeed whether I want to do more with it, and this investigation of the tools available for monitoring and measuring my activity there has caused just such reflections.

Make the most of LinkedIn, one drop at a time!

Here is my advice (to myself as much as anyone else!) on ways to use LinkedIn:

Keep it up to date with your employment history, at the very least. Also, add other info gradually, so that you don’t lose a whole day at once! Drip-feed your profile…

The Guardian’s latest edition of their Careers Uncovered guide suggests that you should aim to have between 5 and 8 recommendations on your LinkedIn Profile (This advice is also available in an article on the topic). Perhaps I’d better get cracking if I follow my own point number 2, from my list below!


  1. Use an up to date photo: make your profile personal & authentic to viewers.
  2. Ask for recommendations from colleagues (& be sure to be willing to reciprocate).
  3. Populate the “Your skills & Expertise area” by endorsing other people’s skills: it could prompt some return endorsements. Or you could just ask for them.
  4. Keep the publications list up to date, if you are publishing.
  5. Add media items into your profile: eg a link to your blog, your twitter profile, slideshare presentations, youtube videos, etc
  6. Summarise your career for the summary section: this could also be useful as a draft “speaker biography” when you attend events, too.

– At the same time, gradually connect to everyone you can think of! Although do remember to only approach people who you genuinely know in some way. As you gradually update your profile, your activity will be reported on your contacts’ home pages. So if they are looking on LinkedIn then they will be reminded of you: perhaps “little and often” is key for this reason, as well as to avoid losing a whole day!

– Link your blog and/or twitter feed to your WordPress account, so that new blog posts/tweets appear in your activity feed. NB I chose not to link Twitter because I don’t want to flood my contacts’ home pages. But I only blog roughly once a week, so that’s OK!

– Under LinkedIn’s “Interests” tab, look for companies that you can follow. Some companies use their page to provide you with useful info about their work, eg Google. Or good advice, eg jobs.ac.uk. Other companies broadcast job opportunities in their activity streams. If you really want to follow what they broadcast, then you need to invest time in looking at updates on your home page. But you could just keep it as a list of companies who you might one day be interested in working for!

– Also under “Interests” there are “Groups”. LinkedIn suggests both groups and companies for you to follow. These are probably based on what people in your network are following, and is not a bad selection to get started with. With Groups, your request to join seems to require approval and it’s not so instant as following a company.

You can also get e-mail updates about discussions in those groups. When you want to start a discussion, that also seems to go to a moderator, so the level of activity and appropriateness of discussions varies from group to group. LinkedIn groups is not altogether the most social or active of discussion/group sites that I’ve ever found, but that is my own experience and I guess different groups have different levels of activity.

– You can also spend time looking at who’s viewed your profile: I find it largely a distraction! It does show a graph of activity across the last 90 days, so if you’ve launched a big “notice me” social media campaign and want to track its effectiveness, then it could be useful. Klout also does this sort of measuring, across several social media channels. And Hootsuite, and probably lots of others…

– Lastly, the Jobs section of LinkedIn. I created and saved a search there, but I couldn’t be so specific as I wanted to be. I can go back and see what new jobs have been added since I last looked, but I confess that this area of LinkedIn will have to wait for further exploration from me. Lots more drip, drip, drip to be getting on with!

Water drop captured with flash, by Vanessa Pike-Russell.

(Image: Vanessa Pike-Russell)

I have many profiles online… where are they all?

Recently, I explored “flavors.me“: the idea is a website that collates all of your online presences at one address. Great in theory, but it doesn’t have options for all the places where I have an online presence. Perhaps if I investigated the “RSS” button a bit more, I could add almost anything. It can pick up on Twitter and WordPress, but so can my LinkedIn profile, and that is useful to me in other ways, too. This is how flavors.me looks after a couple of tweaks:

flavors copy

You have to click on one of the badges on the left, to get content from either Twitter or WordPress to show on the right hand side. I do like that each one has a link that goes to those sites, which is called “profile” but I think it’s a bit too subtle. I don’t really want people to read my content on this page: I think that my blog looks better on WordPress and I recently tweeted about Rebelmouse, who do an excellent job with my tweets.

Flavors.me does access a lot of other social media sites, but I either don’t use them, or I want to keep my personal presences separate from my professional ones. So, it goes into the list of the many sites on which I have created a presence that I don’t intend to maintain… I won’t delete it in case it improves and I want to go back to it! But I haven’t linked to my profile there, on purpose. It’s probably not best practice, to have an out of date profile (or several) out there. But if they point to up to date ones, perhaps it is not so bad…

What is on my list of online profiles to go back to? The next things are: separate my personal and professional Youtube collections : update my Slideshare collection (big task!), and then update my profiles on Mendeley, ResearchGate and Academia.edu. But these things take time!

Slideshare updating

Having discovered that my Slideshare profile sits quite high on Google, here are the things I did to refresh it:

1) I logged in through my LinkedIn profile and was offered the option to link Slideshare to LinkedIn: I remember doing this once already, but perhaps they offer new features now. There were various tick boxes offered, for me to choose just how closely I want the accounts linked.

2) Even though I joined it to Linkedin, I needed to update my Slideshare profile by hand. I uploaded a new picture and entered my current job title. It brought the “about me” text from LinkedIn, and I edited that to fit.

3) I considered the copyright option to apply to my slides: I’m happy with people re-using my content if they reference me, so I chose CC-Attribution.

4) I “liked” my own slideshow on the UKSG channel

Next, I suppose I should consider uploading more of my slideshows, and I see that Slideshare now allows for document uploads, infographics and videos as well as slideshows, and then I could always invest time being “social” there, by reading and liking other people’s slideshows, and following their channels… but my four steps are quite enough for now!