Using Social Media to Engage Research End Users

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Background

Social media is becoming the dominant platform for getting information, for the general population by superseding television and newspapers and increasingly for academics, displacing peer-reviewed journal articles. Time is limited and short communications are easier to digest, especially when on a mobile.

To summarise findings from a research project or engage in an academic/policy debate in very short social media snippets is an impressive skill and one that I am keen to learn. This was the motivation behind going on the Research Support Office event on ‘Using social media to engage research end users’.

Firstly, what are the benefits of using social media to engage with research end users:

Why use social media?

  1. Dissemination - share cutting-edge research
  2. Listening - retweet/like other research (a personalised newsfeed)
  3. Connecting - reuse content and feedback to contributors, conference hashtag (if it’s your event make sure hashtag isn’t already taken!)
  4. Interacting - plan ahead, make it regular, half an hour a day?

It might be useful to have a go with two types of social media platforms:

Types of social media

  1. Project blog - Keep it short (< 500 words) and informal, UoE has an in-house service for Wordpress blogging, which comes with lots of support (e.g. security, GDPR compliancy)
  2. Twitter - always include imagery (and make it fun)
  3. Facebook - good for events
  4. E-newsletter
  5. Infographics
  6. Video/Audio channels

A number of free open source software are available to help get started:

Software

  1. Tweetdeck - schedule tweets for times of day (some times/days more effective - most effective times are subject specific)
  2. Wakelet - gather social media data to tell a story (for an event for example)
  3. Canva - online graphic design for images, infographics etc.
  4. Google/twitter analytics - measuring engagement
  5. Unsplash - free high resolution images
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