Abigail Tarbotton is a librarian with experience in academic and health libraries. She has a keen interest in social media and new technologies and helping people use them in the best way in their work and personal lives. She currently works as an information specialist – focusing on supporting Allied Health and Projects – in Counties Manukau Health Library.
Using social media to build up your presence as a researcher and to disseminate research is a fantastic way to build up a personal learning network of people who are interested in the same area as you. It allows you to have a personal extension of your subject matter expertise and to connect with other researchers in your field from all over the world.
It is important when disseminating your research on social media to think about reshaping the message to the medium – you can’t just put in the title of your article and a link and expect that to attract a lot of people to click on it and read your work.
Writing a tweet about research can be tricky – you need to have a compelling tweet for people to click on and read more of it. And it needs to fit into 140 characters!
To get more mileage out of your tweet:
• add a picture. The image could be a picture with a quote from your research, a surprising statistic, or a visual abstract (see Abraham Ibrahim’s excellent guide, A Primer on How to Create a Visual Abstract). As well as providing some more contextual information for your tweet, a well-chosen image also takes up a little more real-estate space on a Twitter feed and will attract more attention to your tweet than a tweet without an image. Cooper (2013) did a mini study comparing tweets with images versus tweets without images and found that tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites, and 150% more retweets.
• use relevant hashtags to help your message get into the right channels. As a general rule of thumb, don’t add more than two or three hashtags to one tweet. You can experiment to find out which hashtags are most popular in your chosen area. A website that can help you identify relevant health hashtags is Symplur Health Hashtag Project.
You could also write a blog post (on your own personal blog or publish it on a website like Medium or LinkedIn) to summarise the main points of your research and provide another window into your findings that is accessible to people.
Like a tweet, a blog post should be written according to the medium; it will typically be a shorter article written in a more conversational tone communicating your findings and why they matter. It shouldn’t just be a regurgitation of your original research, but a friendlier look at it.
You could also ask to share your blog post on someone else’s blog, or if there is an industry blog for your profession, you could ask if they could post your blog on there as well. This is another way of reaching a new/different/bigger audience for your research.
Terras (2011) notes that since writing a blog post and tweeting a link to her open access article, she went from one or two downloads to 535 downloads over a week or so.
You may well have presented on your research at a conference or talk. Why not upload your slides to SlideShare or make a Prezi to share the main points from your research and have another medium for people to share and explore? These are some other ways to help spread your research and connect with others in your research community (or even outside of your research community).
A way of taking it further is potentially to share elements of your research – questions, interesting findings – while you are researching. You may share these in tweets, online chats, blog posts, or research communities such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu. Sarahlibrarina (2017) notes this is all part of being a networked researcher. She has a very useful guide for using social media and online communities during the process of researching and afterwards for dissemination.
So while the actual research you do is very important, being part of an active research community around the world and sharing your results on social media can help your research have more impact – in your own research community and beyond!
Cooper, B. B. (2013, Nov 13). How Twitter’s expanded images increase clicks, retweets and favorites [new data]. Retrieved from https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-power-of-twitters-new-expanded-images-and-how-to-make-the-most-of-it
Sarahlibrarina. (2017, May). Being a networked researcher. Retrieved from http://sarahlibrarina.tumblr.com/post/130245462845/being-a-networked-researcher
Terras, M. (2011, Nov 7). What happens when you tweet an open access paper. Retrieved from http://melissaterras.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/what-happens-when-you-tweet-open-access.html