Congratulations, you have made a wise choice to start professionally Tweeting!
There are many advantages to academic Tweeting:
- Getting yourself known in the field
- Making yourself instantly available to your peers without annoying enquiring emails
- Creating an active presence as a professional
- Micro-blogging about your latest papers
- Conference attendances
- Latest movements in your career
- …and so much more.
Treat Twitter like a TALKING BUSINESS CARD and the people you are interacting with as your peers in this alternative working world: you are not necessarily in competition but part of something much bigger.
Here are some tips on how to create a good Twitter profile as well as some other things to keep in mind:
- What are you using Twitter for? If you are using Twitter primarily for work and work-related issues, then keep Tweets on topic. There isn’t a limit on how many Twitter account you can have so just open another Twitter account for a different ‘persona’ that you might want to try out. I have three! 🙂
- As a professional academic social media user, you are expected to have opinions in particular about your area of expertise. But the occasional unrelated Tweet shouldn’t matter.
- Your profile picture. Keep the same picture of you (or your avatar) across social media networks. This is a good idea because people recognise you straight away, e.g, the difference between Dr. Smith from Florida as opposed to another Dr. Smith from Albuquerque.
- Use your best picture: Depending on what personality you are trying to get across: serious, business-like, fun, try and keep one picture across all of your professional social media sites. I use the same picture on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, anywhere I am professionally viewed. People will come to know and trust this picture.
- Appearances and the two-second first impression! “Are you on Twitter?” I ask nearly all academics I meet because I want to connect and keep in touch with what they are doing.
- On a professional Twitter account I expect to see a few things on their small profile information, (not some random words about their favourite football team or their dog, spouse and kids). Although it’s sweet seeing personal stuff, I really want to know WHO they are, WHERE they are, and WHAT they are doing in their ACADEMIC FIELD.
- Choosing your Twitter handle. Keep it as short as possible. If people Tweet to you and your handle is as long as @DrJosephineMScoble, they have less character space in which to write the rest of their message. So, I could have chosen @JojoScoble, which is how I like to be addressed. But I chose @Paraphyso (something to do with my research) since my user name ‘Jojo Scoble’ is displayed next to my Twitter handle anyway.
- It’s up to you but keep it as short as possible, but remember, there are only have a few seconds to impress people as they glance at your profile information and decide to follow or not. This additional information, on top of a profile picture makes you recognisable.
- Further tips for a great Twitter profile:
- Your information: Just as in your Tweets you have limited character space so use it wisely. Sentences aren’t needed so use key words and HASHTAG them so your profile comes up when people search within those hashtags.
- Add handles to your information if possible: I use my alumni university’s Twitter handle within my information so people know I’m an alumna of that institution (check with account holders first, in some cases it might be OK).
- See my description below there are just two words not hyperlinked in my information (black words) and I have strung these together to make sense. I’ve also delineated the list by a dash to indicate what I also Tweet about: #PostDoc #Microbiology @Usask with @SinaAdl in #Protist #Diversity – #OA #OpenSource #EqualRights #MentalHealth #blogging #Writing @OxfordAlumni #scicomm
- Note: There is a separate field for your website address below your profile information, no need to put it in your general information.
- Your background banner picture – you can use this to show a picture of something related to your work: a book; a subject or process (x-ray, gel, animal, person); use it to advertise a conference you are helping to organise; more information about you. I follow a lot of independent authors who use the banner to advertise their latest book, you could use it to advertise your latest book/chapter or review piece too.
- Pinned Tweets: whatever you are currently doing in your research, you latest paper, conference, research project or whatever is ‘hot’ in your life right now, pin that tweet to the top of your profile page. Any tweet of yours you pin will stay at the top of your tweet stream on your profile page and that way people will know what you are all about right now.
- The last word:
- DO include people in your Tweets;
- DON’T rant on and on about something;
- DO promote your field;
- DON’T make it all about you all the time;
- DO praise people often;
- DON’T be negative.
Go to next blog in this series of five blogs about Twitter for academics, PART THREE: How to start Tweeting or Twitter for Academics main menu.
Great stuff (as usual)! The only thing I would add is that work-related tweeting can be hard. It may not come naturally, you may feel you don’t have to something “important” to say or add. So, having a strategy is important and something I am trying to deploy…it could just be focusing on events/conferences you attend and use those to connect and tweet like mad (using conference hashtags of course) and then keep things ticking over in-between events by scheduling reminders to tweet or RT a few times a week (have still not worked this last part into my routine!).
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Yes, I understand. I became a very intermittent Twitter user during my DPhil and generally in my postdoc, but that’s ok. It’s about quality not quantity. As long as you know why you are Tweeting (e.g., to grow your professional network), then you’ll be fine. Your following will grow naturally and be more stable. It’s always nice to have a strategy for things, even so, with Twitter, unless your using it as a primary device to make money or for business, I say – just let go and do what you feel most natural doing.
Forcing yourself into Twitter will just make it like a forced chore and less enjoyable. I think you should get as much enjoyment out of Twitter, it should be a release and a time to connect with your peers in an excited, productive and organic way.
One piece of advice to someone who wants to keep things ‘ticking over’ – if you’re taken over by many interests and want to share, take a look at my blog ‘what the blog do I write about’ and another about micro and macro blogging, it basically says to get social media ‘traffic’ to and from Twitter from and to another more static site just of yours, like WordPress or Tumblr, where you can blog as little or as much as you like and even from your own hand held device.