Have you set an agenda and goals, what you would like to achieve with your science-related Twitter account? What do your followers expect from you and – most importantly – who are you addressing?
No matter if you are new to Twitter and just started your account, or have been roaming the Twitter orbit for a while and now want to boost your engagement – here is how to get going.
List 3 to 5 goals that motivate you to set aside time for social media engagement
- Spreading the word about your research topic
- Building a reputation as an expert in your field
- Identifying potential project partners to further explore your discoveries
- Gaining access to other people’s perspective on your research topic
- Sharing knowledge that is relevant to the public and policy makers
Define your < field specific > target audience
- Scientific journals and publishers
- Funding agencies
- The general public and policy makers
#1 Follow strategically – Chose Twitter accounts to follow according to your goals and target group. If one of your goals is to disseminate knowledge to the general public and policy makers then follow selected members of parliament, newspaper journalists and publishing houses. Would you rather like to build your reputation as an expert amongst your peers then search for renowned scientists in your field, reputed scientific journals that are likely to publish your work and start interacting: like, retweet, comment and mention.
#2 Interact with your followers – Add value to their Twitter experience by providing informative details on topic they are interested in and which lies in your expertise.
#3 Retweet your followers’ tweets – Let them know that you value their work and appreciate what they have to say. Where applicable, add a comment to trigger a conversation.
#4 Provide problem-solving content – Link to your own or somebody else’s blog or website that addresses a scientific question.
#5 Add hashtags – Spark conversation in your research community by using one or two hashtags per tweet: e.g. #evodevo for Evolution & Development or #dataviz for Data Visualization, Charts and Graphs. Use hashtags sparsely to ensure readability.
#6 Upload images and videos – Why not tell a story about your daily lab routine? Anything interesting you came across lately? Use your smartphone to take a picture of that article, experimental setup, take a selfie in your work environment and use relevant hashtags to tell a short science story of 140 characters. Or record yourself and tweet some spoken word on your research.
#7 Learn from the best – Check how other scientists run their accounts on Twitter and copy what they do with your own content; soon you will grow a habit and find it easy.
#8 Check your Twitter Analytics – Your Twitter account comes with its own analytics tool that is not used by many. See which of your tweets had the most impressions, which ones led to profile visits and who is your top follower per month – you might want to engage with her or him on an occasion.
#9 Use the search box – Identify influencers in your field. Make a list of 10 or more keywords that relate to your work and look them up on Twitter. This often leads to new discoveries of scientists across the globe who share your research interest or guide you to a publication that fills a gap in your bibliography.
#10 Set aside a specific time slot – Time is precious so use it wisely and dedicate 10 to 15 minutes every day over the course of two weeks to get things going. Mark this time slot in your calendar and do not spend more time on Twitter; it is easy to get drifted away. Once you have tweeted, retweeted and liked a few contents shift your focus back to your desktop. You may of course take some of the newly identified sources and contacts to your other platforms, like linkedin, your list of references, etc.
Do you already use one or the other tactics to interact with your followers? How do you encourage engagement?
Share your questions and comments below.
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