The Twitter for Academics ebook is what comes in 2016. I started writing the book last summer precisely because of how well received these blogs were among the academics who visited – *UPDATE* The eBook was published at the end of April click here for more information or click here to go the Amazon website
I’ve heard Twitter be referred to as a global online ‘water cooler’ or ‘rec room’ for academics, a place to hang-out and feel support from others in the same career. There are also some advantages of being connected to those in other institution but of the same field since you hear about institutional and departmental developments first. But sometimes, according to my friend Dr. Dunthorn,
“If you are gonna waste time, it’s going to be on something useful, like Twitter!” (@MicahDunthorn September 2015).
I’ve spoken to a number of academics who love using Twitter as an academic, and below are a few answers to why they use it.
Useful and quick resource
Sometime’s references are hard to find on the internet but it’s so easy to Tweet the article reference and go back later to see if anyone has found it. It doesn’t matter how many people you have in your following, with the right hashtag it’ll be visible to a wider audience.
Easy to be social on your terms
Many academics can be socially nervous. Twitter has made it easier to connect with those who you might not have had the courage to approach before. All they need to do it like or following the tweets of the person they want to connect with, or send them a tweet or DM.
More visible as a researcher
Being more visible online can leads to public speaking jobs and invitations to conferences that you may not have been considered for before.
Researchers might be looking for someone like you but not realise what you are up to right now cuz you never answer your email, so Twitter is a great way for people to know what you are up to and find out, in a casual way, if you are interested in collaborating.
Fun at conferences
Meeting people is easier, less awkward that waiting in the background while they finish their conversation.
Tweeting keeps you interested in talks because you are actively listening for sound-bytes to Tweet about. I have used tweets as a note-taking tool.
Hear about venue changes and parallel sessions. If you’re lucky enough, the conference organisers will tweet from a dedicated account.
Keeping in touch after the conference. All those people you met you can put in your own twitter conference list.
Easy way to find interesting papers
Having a wider research interest in your Twitter account will expose you to research that you may not have considered reading before
Celebrating work-related achievements and milestones
It’s great when we publish, get funding or a promotion. Tweeting every achievement and pinning it to your newsfeed is a way of advertising your work and have it reached by more people, making it more worthwhile.
I tweeted that I completed and passed my Doctorate, and this was great for me because someone on Twitter saw the Tweet and offered me a post-doc. There are a lot of reasons to celebrate, and using Twitter can help move that celebration into another.
Global network for any time of the day or night
Research shouldn’t be restricted globally or by institution, so having a global online network like Twitter, for your research, for your emotion support, can keep you going at any time of day or night
Belonging to a great Twitter community of all stages of career can help in finding solutions to problems; finding the best tools and approaches from experienced people at any time of their career, day or night
Many researchers are expected to appear to be reaching out to the public (or whoever) with their research. Twitter can be a vehicle for that use, be it to spread news of open days, workshops, blogs and websites.
Makes me think about what I want to say; concisely (writing practice)
Hot debates on things in your own field; learning what they are can really help build confidence.
Discussing aspects of your work in concise ways can help to see how things may sound to yourself and others and help improve your communication.
Find out about jobs and funding really easily
It’s great to have a network of people in your own field with whom you can share first-hand information about the latest jobs and funding applications.
(An excerpt of the Twitter for Academics eBook coming 2016)
What kind of maintenance tasks are there to do for my Twitter account?
This is a good question since many people I’ve spoken to don’t even think they have to do anything to their account other than tweet when they feel like it. So, what am I talking about? I’m talking about maintenance which, in my experience, includes the following:
Follow-back: Look for more followers and followback those who’ve followed you (not the spammy ones, obviously)
Replying/Mention/Favourite: Interacting with those who interact with you by responding in some way to them, either replying to their Mention, Mentioning them in a Thank You tweet, or favouriting a tweet of theirs in which you’re mentioned. If you don’t have time to reply just favourite and leave it at that, then they’ll be notified of your acknowledgement
DM: Responding to direct messages – only the ones that actually ask something not just say Thank you for following, which you don’t need to do anything for
Lists: Add new followers you especially like to your lists – putting everyone you follow into a list can be a bit time consuming so just pick your favourites to put in your list of news or scicomm etc…
Scheduling: Find content from the web (or other tweets) to tweet using a scheduling application. (Don’t want to tweet them all at once and annoy followers so stagger the posts).
Why would you want to maintain your Twitter account?
The answer depends if a) You want an influential account and need more followers or b), You use your account as a tool for networking and connecting with the right people.
In both instances it’s worth understanding that active accounts, those accounts which tweet and interact regularly, are far more responsive to growth and interaction than those which do nothing. But even if you aren’t interested in an account with lots of followers, using your account as a tool to interact and connect with the right people for your career, by maintaining contact lists and responding to queries, these are important daily exercises for a vibrant account that will serve you well over the years.
If you’re a more involved Twitter user and don’t need encouragement to be active all the time, you still might need steering towards doing a little housekeeping; organise lists, find accounts to follow, read or search for your favourite tweeters. In this way you’ll augment your experience of Twitter and become, if you’re not already, a more confident and knowledgeable user.
A deeper understanding of your account comes from doing a few tasks like these:
Follow new accounts – look for accounts similar to yours and follow those who follow them.
Unfollow all those accounts that either don’t follow you back, are spam or are unused ‘dead’ accounts.
Study at your stats/analytics to see when your followers are mostly online; your most popular tweets; from which country your followers are… and much more besides
The second list of maintenance tasks shown above are best performed with the help of other applications, such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Buffer, Klout and many more big and trusted programs to help you understand more about your Twitter accounts influence and even geographical influence. Some of these apps come with a certain amount of use for free; unfollow up to 50 users per day, follow up to 50 users per day, etc… (More on apps in the next section in this chapter).
I enjoy taking the time to use these apps to sort out my Twitter accounts since I get to know the types of accounts that follow me, where they comes from and what tweets are most popular. It’s a bigger task, but then I like to take my time with a coffee and relax to some music whilst doing it.
(This blog is taken from the Twitter for Academics book to come out early 2016)
Yesterday I gave a talk on UAlbany’s main campus regarding an overview of personal branding strategies for academic professionals through the UAlbany FFLC (Future Faculty Leadership Council). The talk is focused on the online aspect of personal branding. Please feel free to share the talk with others if you find it useful. I may periodically update its content with time. There is a substantial amount of supporting information and places to go for further reading, provided in footnotes. Follow the link below to get to the Prezi presentation:
Rules — if you don’t know them then how do you know you’re breaking them? Here are some highlights of the Twitter Rules that you may not realise you’ve been breaking!
Twitter Rules and Best Practices
The internet is host to many products and services and Twitter, like all the other internet companies, try to make sure its users adhere to certain rules and regulations. How often do you click ‘yes’ when agreeing to Terms and Conditions on an internet product without having read any of it? While my trust is in the product and name of the company, and this might override my decision to read ToCs, I should consider my own conduct too.
Twitter have an easy to follow page, The Twitter Rules, on their Help Centre website, so it’s worth taking a quick look if you haven’t done so already since it could save you a bit of stress when you are faced with, like I was, a constant message telling me I am blocked from following any more users at this time. I didn’t understand what was going on and it detracted from my enjoyment of using Twitter.
I’ve highlighted a few interesting official Twitter rules here, but still encourage you to take a look at the page since they are subject to updates and revisions.
*Please note: the Twitter Rules are part of their Terms of Service, which you must agree to before opening an account.*
Content — There is some limitation to the type of content one can post, for mostly legal reasons, things like violent outbursts and threats against others are not allowed, not that they would be condoned in most life situations anyway. Graphic or pornographic or violent picture or video content is also not allowed — although there is a hefty amount present on Twitter, you must realise that it’s against the Twitter Rules.
Publishing private information of another person is not allowed without their consent, this includes emails, postal addresses, telephone numbers, identity numbers, as well as intimate photos or videos.
Deception — The impersonation of someone or a company with the intent to mislead others is not allowed, and Twitter can reclaim usernames on behalf of companies or people when they have been taken. In relation to this, taking up usernames to buy or sell is not allowed and comes under Abuse.
Abuse and disruptive behaviour — Owning multiple accounts for the same use is deemed a form of disruptive behaviour since one might, and probably will, use them all to post the same material all the time. Also, sending messages to a single user from multiple accounts is also deemed abusive. Any violation of these rules could result in suspension of all accounts.
Username Squatting — This is a term I was unaware of until I wrote this section; it’s when an account is created just to take a username, but this can also be applied to accounts that are inactive for more than six months. Twitter reserve the right to take action against Username Squatters but do take into consideration a few things first like, how many accounts were created with similar usernames and the purpose of creating any of the accounts, as well as third-party maintenance (using proxy programs to maintain activity).
Invitation Spam — This is when you have your address book pillaged and everyone in it is invited to join X, and often it looks like a personal message from you. It can be a useful tool especially for social networks but it is not allowed on Twitter, so if you’re a software or app developer, please beware.
Copyright — Twitter’s policy is pretty standard and have guidelines for copyright procedures in Section 9 ‘Copyright Policy’ of their Terms of Service user agreement contract. Twitter will exercise the right to remove content they believe to infringe on Copyright and terminate accounts that repeatedly infringe on Copyrighted material.
Twitter Badges — ‘Promoted’ or ‘Verified’ Twitter badges are provided by Twitter only and are not be used without their consent and so the account could be suspended if used in header photos or profile pictures without official consent.
Automated actions — There are a huge amount of applications and software programs that offer services to Twitter users to sort out the metaphorical wheat from the chaff, so it’s worth realising that if you’re using a third party application you might be in violation of Twitter’s Automation Rules and Best Practices. Automated bulk unfollowing and following is not permitted and any user or application engaging in this practice will be suspended. Rest assured there are verified apps out there that can help you in Twitter Housekeeping, just make sure they are kosher by finding out if they’re verified by Twitter before using them.
Using block as a means to unfollow — is not allowed.
Spam — Is a hugely important facet of the Terms of Service and the Twitter Rules, which is why I left it ’til last since there are many ways in which behaviour can constitute as spamming other users and can take a little more space to explain.
Spam is, basically, ‘Irrelevant, annoying, unsolicited and sometimes dangerous tweets or behaviour’, and in the Twitter Rules — you may not use Twitter for the purpose of spamming anyone. So let’s find out more what spamming is:
*This is not an exhaustive list, so take a look at Twitter Rules page for more*
>Following and unfollowing accounts: Or ‘Follow Churn’; following an account then re-following. I confess to having done this for a short time because I wanted to see if I could increase my following and raise attention of those who I wanted to follow me back but I had no idea that it was a form of spam behaviour and is definitely not allowed. Luckily I was not reported or banned, however, having done this I have experienced a definite negative effect on my account since I am unable to follow as many people as I used to on my personal account, which is annoying since I can’t follow back as many people.
>Misuse of the Hashtag: Over-use of hashtags and using unrelated hashtags on a tweet can be seen as spam since it could be piggybacking on ‘trending’ or popular topics.
>Misuse of @replies and mentions: Sending out large numbers or tweets filled with @replies and mentions — either duplicated or unsolicited is a no no.
>Unrelated Lists of users: Creating lists of unrelated users is spam since it’s attention grabbing, un-useful and irrelevant.
>Creating false or misleading content: Tweeting lies or misleading information to get attention, it’s just plain annoying.
>Aggressively (and randomly) retweeting, favouriting and following: This is pretty straightforward to understand — favouriting tweets and retweeting lots of stuff is bombarding people with content and notifications and is thus extremely annoying.
>Using or Promoting third-party (proxy) services to gain followers: There is a nice article on Twitter’s help page (click here) about these third party application where you pay to get more followers, but it’s important that you do not engage in this practice since you are giving control of your account to a third party and when they do add followers to your account these new followers are not even in use (bot or abandoned accounts) so it’s a pretty useless venture since they’ll never read your tweets and will probably end up being removed anyway because they’re inactive.
Third party applications may also be likely to violate Twitter’s Terms of Service via phishing scams and fraud, which is not usual, and could then lead to your account being suspended or deleted.
(An excerpt from the upcoming book, Twitter for Academics)
You’re already busy in your job, so how are you going to fit in (more) social media? I think about Twitter as more of an augmentation to an existing work situation; the business-card; the living network of contacts; the journal club and literary resource.
Whatever your existing routine might hold within it, Twitter can overlay onto it.
Scenario 1. You are reading a paper – Tweet a link to the paper you’ve read and say what you thought about it – add appropriate hashtag for a wider audience. END.
Time management 101 – Tweet about the paper and close the browser or app and don’t keep checking for responses or reactions.
Scenario 2. You’ve found a great newspaper report on your field of research. Tweet the link and perhaps add a comment – add appropriate hashtag for a wider audience. END.
Time management 101 – Tweeting from a share icon saves you from having to tweet from the application thereby ridding you of the temptation to check all of your notifications.
Scenario 3. Doing some fieldwork, at an event, or a work celebration. Take a picture with your mobile device – share the picture from your mobile picture app – add appropriate hashtag for a wide audience. END.
Time management 101 – If you have a lot of pictures you would like to Tweet at once, add them all to one tweet rather than as individual tweets.
N.B.: To be active on Twitter you don’t need to be using the Twitter website or Twitter app! From the above scenarios you can see how you don’t have to actually be on Twitter to be on Twitter – using proxy apps or ‘share’ buttons to post to your Twitter account makes you an active user without being tempted to be on the site.
Share buttons are a great way to avoid getting caught up in a long unplanned Twitter session. Most services on the internet have a facility linked to all major social media networks, so you can share without having to go to Twitter whether you are on your mobile device on at your desktop computer.
So, whatever you are doing, you can share it on Twitter without going on Twitter! Sounds a little ironic but it’s nice to think that when you do eventually get leisure time on Twitter you could open your account to a bunch of messages and responses to the things you shared when you were doing them.
(An excerpt of Twitter for Academics eBook – coming soon.)