Social Media Impact
Nowadays, social media is a ubiquitous part of people’s everyday life. The benefit that the world of social media offers is that we can connect and talk to people without having to meet them face to face. This form of communication also provides both individuals and companies the chance to reach an enormous amount of people. Today, we do not even realize sometimes that we are surrounded by many types of social media and almost every advertisement whether in magazine, radio, television or elsewhere refer to social media somehow. For example, how many times have we heard from companies, ‘you can like our page on Facebook’ or ‘follow us on Instagram’ or ‘you can find more in our channel on YouTube’. In January 2019 they were 3.4 billion active social media users out of 7.7 billion people in the world.1
By being active on social media will allow me to express myself, create ideas, keep up to date with the latest developments, build new relationships and networks and be part of discussions and events. Especially as a scientist, social media can give me the privilege to enhance my professional profile and have a public voice for science. Social media is a great way to share journal articles, post updates from conferences and meetings, find information about career opportunities and upcoming events and publicize my opinions regarding scientific topics. 2
In order to use social media effectively I will need to develop a relevant and interesting online presence that will be available to my fellow researchers and other scientific audiences. Using this presence, I will try to promote myself as well as my research. However, to build this online presence might take some investing time. Then, to sustain my social media activity I must frequently posting. When it comes to Social Media, I must follow the SMART rule.3 The S stands for strategy as I first must think what my goal is and how much time I must invest. M for manage as I must manage my time effectively and select appropriate platforms to reach my goal. A stand for audience as I must think of what interests my audience. R for review as I must evaluate my social media impact using analytics. And finally, T for tactics as I must use relevant tags, images and clear and precise language in order to have the attention of my audience.
A good place to start is with the professional social networking site LinkedIn that will allow me to make connections with people based on job interests. It will also allow me to create a profile, like a website that summarises my professional accomplishments as well as help me build a network that will grow with time. LinkedIn will be great not only for keeping connections with past colleagues and building professional relationships but for networking for funding and employment opportunities.4
In addition, Research Gate is a popular academic social media outlet. Creating a profile in this website will provide me with a forum to share and discuss my research as well as find collaborators. Also, it is a unique platform to make my research more visible, to share ideas, to interact with the research community and to give me access to interesting research discussions.5
Another social media platform that has a lot to offer to a scientist is Facebook. As a social networking environment, it will help me connect with fellow researchers to discuss ideas, to record reflections on research and events attended, advertise and promote research and receive feedback on research ideas. Facebook will give me the opportunity to set up conference or workshop pages as well as set up a community page on a research topic or methodology.4 However, in order to make the most out of Facebook I must follow some tips such as post towards the end of the work day when more people are active usually. It is very important to separate my personal profile with my professional and keep introductory text short to catch people’s attention and get more likes and comments.3
Another useful way to increase my research impact is the blogging. Blogs are short online posts where you can present some initial findings on your research. Posts can be tagged with keywords so that related posts can be brought together. Readers are usually able to add their own comments on the post. By creating a blog as an external website, I will be able to record reflections on research, advertise and promote research, network for funding and employment opportunities, receive early feedback on research ideas and build a community of researchers with similar research interests.4
Twitter is by far the most prominent example of a micro-blogging platform and seems that is the largest evolution in social media.6 Creating a profile in Twitter will allow me to promote my research, inform others about a new blog-post and generally connect with researchers that have similar interests. It will also be a great way from me to network, to build connections and maintain them. It will introduce me to new people with similar interests that we might even be at the same conference who I might have never the chance to meet them. It will give me the opportunity to use hash-tags to search for specific ideas and to participate in discussions with other postgraduate researcher on Twitter.7,8 In order to make the most out of Twitter, I must tweet regularly about my research and during the most active times, retweet and tweet from conferences in order to gain more followers. Also, I must monitor hashtags related to my research, advertise my Twitter profile on presentations and in my email signature, and finally I must try to get involved with as many conversations as possible with fellow researchers or other people that are interested in my research.
To conclude, I have to keep in mind that social media is not just for socializing. If I use them correctly, they can be some of the most rewarding and informative resources for a scientist. To summarize, I must be committed to use social media regularly and for professional reasons. Creating a LinkedIn account with an engaging profile and by tweeting or blogging about my area of research I will give the opportunity to others to follow me, so that I can establish myself as an expert in my field.