1. UP-TO-DATE CAREER INFORMATION: Your departmental website may not get updated as often as you like and you may not have direct control over the content. Owning your own professional web profile, e. g., LinkedIn, gives you freedom to add all the details you want. Academia.edu and ResearchGate are great websites for the academic with facility to list your favourite and latest publications. Anyone wanting to work with you should be able to contact you easily online.
2. NETWORKING: This is a major reason and perhaps should have been first on the list, but it I suppose it has to come after you can to be found on the web! Academics network all the time and collaboration is a huge part of academic life. I have made many virtual academic online friends, and I get to know them via their online presence. Like a talking business card, I can get to know them like as they do me through what we post online. You also have a better chance of connecting with the right people by networking online, quite simply, there is more choice.
3. ADVERTISING JOBS, FINDING JOBS: Post-docs, PhD positions etc… I had a post-doc offered to me via Twitter after I Tweeted I’d completed my PhD. True story. Need I say more.
4. KEEPING UP WITH THE RESEARCH: A quick search on the social media sites, e.g., Twitter. What are your peers are talking about in your field? This can give you an edge to your research, especially when you read their views that might contrast yours.
5. PROMOTING YOUR RESEARCH TO LAY-PERSON AND INDUSTRY: Some of your research is of interest to the lay person and to industry. Promoting your field through exciting Tweets, Blogs by ‘hyping’ up your research is doing its bit for the future of your field. You are generating interest and importance and inspiring the next generation of academics.
6. SHARPEN YOUR RESEARCH FOCUS: Going over your research with others in a concise and promotional way. Practice in this forces your to reevaluate and think carefully about what you are doing. Sure you might do this in the teaching labs or lectures, but not everyone teaches.
7. BROADEN YOUR RESEARCH FOCUS: Yes, you can broaden your focus too. Following others in your field and also following researchers not in your field can give you insight into some interesting types of collaborations you may never have thought of!
8. CONFERENCE MADE MORE INTERACTIVE AND FUN: A lot of conferences are advertised on social media now and these experiences are enhanced by delegates posting photos and comments. I’ve been to smaller more personal conferences and have still made connections via Tweeting and posting photos of delegates socialising. I also have more chance of remember who people are and stay connected with them. Extra bonus of actively Tweeting is that I keep more alert in talks cuz I want to summarise what the speaker says in less than 140 characters! (Blog on Tweeting Etiquette)
9. INFORMATION SHARING: OK, some of you may be worried about information sharing. I always treat the internet like the public street; I am not rude or loud or post silly comments. Sharing your latest paper on Twitter is a great way to share, but Tweeting someone else’s work your are interested in is also great. You wouldn’t share your unpublished work and no-one would expect you to. Choose what you want to share of yours or share something else you find interesting to promote similar interests.
10. IT’S REALLY FUN: Social media for academics is fun. Some academics are put off by the social media scene thinking that it’s faddish or for the young, but I have met many talented professors old and young who use it to great benefit in their career and find it fun. It’s another tool for you to widen your prospects as your career takes turns, loops, stops and starts.