To those without a plan, social media feels like a waste of time, but you can use it to
accomplish your goals. By the end of this article, I’ll show you how to use it to advance your career without sacrificing your personal life. Read to the end to learn how CIRT can help you succeed online.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the most frequently cited reasons why social media isn’t used by those in academia and explain why it is exactly the tool you should use to promote your research. We’ll discuss how to make sure your feed is relevant to you, how to use social media for professional development, and of course, how to save time planning and posting. At the end of this piece, you’ll be ready to grow a sustainable online presence by sharing your work and avoiding common pitfalls.
So, what separates those capable of repeated success online from those that put in hours of work but struggle to be seen?
The Power of Social Media for Self-Development
The difference between those that successfully grow online audiences and those that do not boils down to planning, empathy, and persistence. The need for a plan is even more necessary in academia where there’s always another paper due, always another requirement from work, and never enough time to do it all. So, if you want to grow a supportive community, you should be empathetic to your audience’s needs and open to talking to them.
When you show up consistently over the course of weeks and months, the people you’ve connected with learn to trust you and the content you produce – which is the basis for any working relationship, on or offline. Essentially, this means social media can be used for long-term promotional marketing.
Promotional marketing describes the spread of knowledge about a brand, product, or service to a large audience with the intention of increasing awareness or inspiring action. When you use social media to share inspiring, entertaining, and educational content about your discipline, you promote yourself to the world. And in the online world, promotion is necessary to have your message heard among the noise.
Your social plan could be:
- To build your professional network and meet new people, especially industry experts and hiring managers.
- To find jobs, internships, fellowships, or other opportunities (including academic ones) that fit your skillset—and to apply for them!
- To stay up to date on new research opportunities within your discipline by following specific hashtags or accounts related to academia (and then actually reading what they post).
Enhance your Academic and Professional Careers
So, if your goal is to grow professionally, you can use social media to connect with likeminded curious researchers, industry experts, and people passionate about your discipline from around the globe. Once connected, support your community with entertaining, inspiring, and informative content to share your personality and expertise.
Twitter is a great resource for connecting that’s easy to use and popular among researchers, so it’s a great place to build a community. Use Twitter to connect with industry experts in your field or in fields related to yours. The fast-paced nature of the platform means it’s great for those who want to stay on top of emerging news or become a thought leader.
However, if you prefer longer content or a slower pace, you might consider sharing to LinkedIn instead. LinkedIn is widely considered to be a professional social media platform, so the people you connect with are likely to identify as career-oriented and be especially receptive to networking. Use LinkedIn to network with researchers from around the world and share articles about your research area so people can learn more about what you do, and why.
Build Community and Make New Friends
Social media can be a great way to meet people.
- If you’re just getting started, consider finding a community on your favorite platform. You can find communities organized around shared interests. For example, I’m part of a group for people who love writing about writing (yes, this is a real thing), and it’s been incredibly helpful and supportive when planning engaging content!
- If you’re looking for work or are interested in mentorship opportunities, look up local organizations or businesses that may be hiring/mentoring on social media platforms. This could give you a chance at an internship or apprenticeship where you could build your portfolio while gaining access to resources and connections that would otherwise be more difficult to establish.
For curious researchers, social media is a powerful tool for professional development that can help you build a community of like-minded people who help each other. The takeaway here is that even though it can be – social media is not just for fun and games; it is an important part of marketing yourself as an academic professional.
Whatever you do, find a community that loves what you do with the same passion and vigor as you. People are starving for quality, so with a well-crafted promotional strategy you can make the world a bit better. As you share, you’ll contribute to an ever-expanding body of human knowledge by providing your unique perspective. And if you were to ask me, I’d say that’s what makes content creation worth the trouble.
Best Practices for Your Digital Life
As we’ve discussed throughout this piece, social media can be helpful in many ways, but you must use it intentionally.
More importantly, you must intentionally add value to the lives of your followers by being genuine and providing relevant and timely information. So, if you’re wondering how to find balance between work life, family life, and social media we’ve got you covered.
- Set boundaries (what will, or won’t you do online – who has access to you, when)
- Be realistic about what you can do.
- Make time for yourself.
- Be aware of how much time you are spending on social media. Turn off notifications and turn off your phone!
- Set a time limit to your social media use, then reward yourself with something you enjoy.
Steps for Growing an Online Audience
- Define your target audience
- Who are you connecting with?
- Set a budget
- Consider time, money, and all involved resources.
- Will you attempt to build an audience organically or use paid ads?
- Do you need assistance creating content?
- Go where your audience is
- For example, if your potential audience loves Twitter or LinkedIn, go there.
- Outline a marketing mix to be used in future campaigns
- product (your area of expertise)
- price (cost to the reader, time, etc.)
- place (the platform you choose)
- promotion (craft messages that inform and persuade)
- Decide how you’ll connect with your audience, and consider advertising.
- Review your results regularly, and ask what worked well and what didn’t.
Tips for Content Creation
- Establish a posting schedule.
- Keep a calendar of (relevant) events so your audience can be excited with you.
- Stick to an engaging ratio.
- 4-1-1 (four reposted pieces, one news source (not you), and one self-promotional post.
- 80/20 rule (one in five posts are about you, and four out of five posts are generated from fans, news sources, and people in the communities you’ve joined.
- Go live – (voice or video).
- Twitter Spaces is exciting. On LinkedIn, live video gets 24x more engagement than other types of posts.
- Use images and video to tell a story.
- Make a list of keywords and pick three to five to become your content pillars so you stay on topic.
- Don’t forget to interact with your followers.
- Drive traffic back to your website (or research home) to drive conversions.
CIRT Can Help You Succeed Online
Congratulate yourself! You’re now ready to grow a sustainable online presence by sharing your work and avoiding common pitfalls like spending too much time on ineffective measures.
Remember, social media is a powerful tool for promoting your research and enhancing your professional life, but you’ve got to have a plan to reap it’s benefits consistently. We welcome and encourage you to return to this post whenever you need a reminder. If you want more information on how social media and other tools can help you professionally, check out our other blog posts here: Blog – CIRT | Knowledge Base (unf.edu).