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Enhancing your research impact through social media - Nicola Osborne


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Enhancing your research impact through social media - Nicola Osborne

  1. 1. Enhancing your research impact through social media #eplc17 Nicola Osborne Digital Education Manager, EDINA @suchprettyeyes
  2. 2. Introduction: My background… • Digital Education Manager at EDINA, University of Edinburgh. EDINA Marketing group chair. Co-I of the PTAS-funded “A Live Pulse”: Yik Yak for understanding teaching, learning and assessment at Edinburgh project. Co-I of the PTAS-funded Managing Your Digital Footprints (2014-15) research team, and associated ongoing social media research. • Social Media expert advising academic and professional colleagues on communicating their work for over 8 years. • Extensive experience of communicating research and technical projects to academic and non-academic audiences through social media and other channels, with projects such as LitLong: Edinburgh; supporting and engaging communities in crowdsourcing and citizen science projects (e.g. #cobwebfp7); promoting and amplifying public engagement such as research-informed Edinburgh Fringe shows for the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. • Passionate about social media, communication, and public engagement in all forms!
  3. 3. What are social media? • Social Media are any websites that allow you to contribute, to engage, to connect with others and are “Web 2.0” tools (O’Reilly 2005). • Examples include: – Blogs (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium etc.) – Twitter – YouTube and Vimeo, Vine, Periscope, Meerkat – Facebook (and Facebook Live) – Google+ (and Google Hangouts) – Snapchat, WhatsApp, YikYak, Jodel and other social mobile apps. – Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, Giphy, ThingLink, etc. – LinkedIn,, etc. – Reddit, Mendeley, Delicious, Diigo, etc. – FigShare, GitHub, ResearchGate – Stack Overflow, Jelly – And, to an extent, discussion boards and comments sections, messaging apps, etc. Instagram and other Social Media Apps by Flickr user, Jason Howie (CC-BY)
  4. 4. Why does engaging through social media matter? • Highly effective way to develop your network and find great people to work with (whether you plan to stay in academia or not). • Very customisable route to discovering new research, changes to the law, key areas of concern and practice. Enables more serendipitous discoveries than journal alerts/databases alone. • Enables collaborations, engagement, participation, real change to come from your work. • Provides opportunities and ideas for applying your research in new ways. • Gives you a chance to share your own perspectives, to develop writing for new audiences, to reflect on what is most interesting and relevant in your work. • Raises the profile of your work both within academia and beyond. • Helps improve the impact of your work, in all meanings of that word, including REF2014 definition: ‘an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’.
  5. 5. These are also great spaces to disseminate your work Social media tools… • Are go-to spaces for expertise and advice. • Offer new ways to tell stories, to engage in dialogue, to reach out to your audience(s). • Rank highly on Google, Bing, etc. • Can enable direct access to key figures from Principal Investigators to funders and Research Councils, to press, and potential research participants. • May generate media interest in your work, new collaborations and other unexpected opportunities. • Offer inexpensive ways to raise your own profile and that of your research.
  6. 6. This time it’s personal… • Social media are about people, personality and quirkiness. • They allow use of links, images, video, audio, and other multimedia to bring a topic to life. • They are designed to nurture communities, networks, peer support, sharing, participation and collaboration. • They are often updated and engaged with via mobile phones – crossing personal and professional spaces, places and times. • And that means they can present exceptional access and contact with your audiences - but they can also be risky or slightly chaotic spaces to engage. “Username: LauraGil4 on Snapchat (Education Storytelling)” by Flickr user Laura Gilchrist (CC-BY).
  7. 7. What tools should you use? • Blogs - make your work visible, enable semi-formal ways to share working methods and progress, and provide a way to find and engage in dialogue with your audience. Medium is the hot blogging platform. WordPress is the biggest and most flexible platform. • Twitter - very effective way to share key research updates, build a network around your work, find peer support and advice, track news. • Researcher Social Networks – great places to discover new work, engage with other researchers and specialists. Research Gateway,, Mendeley and LinkedIn Groups can all be effective. • Video or Audio - can bring clarity to complex concepts quickly. Well-made short videos or animations can convey complex concepts and research quickly, accessibly and in very engaging sharable ways. Don’t be afraid to try out Google Hangouts, livestreaming via Periscope, Meekat or Facebook Live, podcasting etc. as long as it feels appropriate for your context and audience. • Image and Interactive spaces - any images bring a project to life – research is about people, ideas, events, collaboration, equipment... Images, visual content, and interactive imagery make your ideas, achievements and discoveries far more tangible. Flickr, Pinterest, Storify, data visualisations, StoryMaps, Textal, Issuu, FigShare, ThingLink, etc. can all be effective in the right circumstances.
  8. 8. Where do your own audiences hang out? • Loose blogging and Twitter communities exist for almost any interest, agenda, and location imaginable. • Your audience may already be embedded in these communities, using a particular preferred platform, following key bloggers, hashtags etc. • Your own social media presences should look and feel like the right space for your intended audience(s), and/or you can always provide guest content for others blogs, communities, etc. Tip: indulge in a little benign “stalking”, see what works well and why.
  9. 9. Are blogs still “a thing”? Blogs quietly power the web in 2017, with many having influence and impact, shaping public debate and mainstream media priorities. Mainstream news and media includes blogging as a key source and format for output. Many sites also borrow from blog formats and writing styles, presenting informal short form content alongside commenting and discussion space. Blog posts – often as stand alone pieces of writing or content – make up a huge amount of the content shared across social networks of all kinds Blogs are a great way to practice writing for different audiences and find your own non-academic voice.
  10. 10. Blogs are great as a… • Platform for getting your voice heard and get your organisation’s work shared throughout the year, not just at key media-friendly focal points. • Way to bring organisations to life, and to highlight ongoing work and activity. • Form for playful storytelling and more human angles, opinion, stories. • Place to expand on key events, news, reports, issues, successes. • Space to develop and engage your audience, to build a sense of community and engage in discussion. • Alternative news streams and routes to engaging the media, funders, etc. • Search engine-friendly content management system. • Content sources for social networking sites, sharing, buzz generation.
  11. 11. Successful blogs don’t fit one pattern, they have their own voice and style…
  12. 12. Making law relevant to pop culture: Colin Yeo on Free Movement blog 12
  13. 13. Reflection & context: former Court of Appeal judge Sir Henry Brooke 13
  14. 14. Early career development reflections: Law Society of Scotland Trainee & NQ blogs 14 careers/the-traineeship/trainee-blogs/
  15. 15. Twitter is a powerful tool… • For networking, building personal connections, sharing your work. • For promoting your blog, encouraging participation in discussion. • For publicising papers, publications, forthcoming conference appearances, milestones and achievements. • Staying up to date with your field and engaging in dialogue with your own and the wider community.
  16. 16. Twitter: Who do you follow? • People who you work with, whose work and publications you follow or value. • Influential people in your field, policy makers (if appropriate), experts outside academic research. • Professional bodies and societies, journals, news services, specialist alerts, associated organisations. • Fun interesting people who share good content that is relevant to you and your work. They won’t always be the obvious people… • DO NOT pay attention to Twitter’s encouragement to follow celebrities and mainstream news… curate your own idiosyncratic feed then listen, post, share, interact and make it a space that is useful for you. • [all of the above also applies across social media] 16
  17. 17. Some useful legal tweeps @lilianedwards, @CharlesOppenh, @LawLibCongress, @PaulBernalUK 17
  18. 18. Twitter stories, jargon, etc. 18 @fdelond Hashtag or #something – a tag that enables you to click and find other comments and contributions on the same topic. Used originally by Twitter, also supported in Instagram, Facebook, Google+ etc. – You create a hashtag by just typing one in. But it is best to search first to make sure it is not already in use. Whether logged in or not you can use: – You can also find posts based on search terms so use of appropriate names/acronyms etc. is also helpful. @mention or tagging in an image – this is a way to let people know you have mentioned them. @mentions on Twitter are common. Typing @ will let you select a person to mention in Facebook, Instagram and Google+. – If used at the start of a tweet fewer people will see your tweet hence the .@mention convention. – On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook you can also tag people in a post or image as part of the image adding/editing options. RT or Retweet or Reblog or Repost or Share Now – you have shared something that someone else posted before. Usually the original post is credited/findable from this. MT or Mention or Quote Tweet or Write Post (in FB Share) – you are sharing something that someone else posted before, and you are adding your own comments and perspective, adding new hashtags, etc. Original post is usually linked/embedded/credited. Twitter Stories are where one person posts a tweet, then replies to that tweet (removing the @name at the beginning) to create a fully “story” across a number of tweets (e.g. see @fdelond on Russian Constitutional Court, left).
  19. 19. Podcasts can be powerful for discovering & disseminating content 19 /radiolabmoreperfect udio/2017/jan/16/the-rights-of-eu- citizens-in-the-uk-brexit-podcast
  20. 20. What research and content can/should you share? • What your research is about and what it aims to achieve. • Processes, updates, changes of approach – to the extent that such transparency is appropriate and acceptable. • Research findings, impact, relevance – be realistic, don’t overpromise. • Quirky, playful and accessible content around your work and research area. • Publications, presentations, press mentions and materials that reflect research outputs and expertise. • CHECK ANY EXISTING PROFESSIONAL BODY GUIDANCE, PRIVACY, NON- DISCLOSURE OR SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES AND ENSURE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE OR ACTIVITY COMPLIES.
  21. 21. 21 • Consider what goals you want to achieve, what you want to share about your research. How can you track progress? What would success look like? • Think about your audience(s): where do they hang out online? What will engage them in your work? How can you make it relevant to them? • Be creative – what images, video or new digital tools could help you to communicate your work in new ways? • Be pragmatic – what is the best fit for your project, your own and your stakeholders’ style, your/your team’s expertise and time availability? Planning content & activity
  22. 22. What should not be shared • Commercially sensitive data or other material your employer/PI would not want shared or that might breach guidelines. • Personal information about colleagues, participants, those at partner organisation that might breach Data Protection law or ethical guidance. • Similarly do not share location information that might compromise your own safety or that of your colleagues. • Material (images, discussion board posts, tweets, etc.) that might impact on your own professional reputation or the credibility of your research. • Anything you would not want a funder, professional peer, project partner, or future employer to see or read.
  23. 23. Developing great content for new audiences Is about drawing out what makes your work unique, interesting, exciting, and thinking about what your audience expectations are, what they will enjoy and find enticing • Think about your voice and personal or organisational brand – formal, informal, chatty? How much room for playfulness is there? • Public engagement of any type (including social media) need to be appealing - how will you communicate your work in language that speaks to your audience and engages them? • Make use of what you have in terms of skills, materials, interest from others, assets, coverage. Play to your strengths.
  24. 24. Calls To Action Calls To Action are triggers for your audience to do something, to take a next step. They might be: • A request to comment, e.g. “What was the most interesting thing you saw at this year’s conference? Tell us in the comments below.” • A link or sign post to the next step, e.g. “book for this event.” or “Join our mailing list to find out more.” • An encouragement to take part, e.g. “We are looking for representatives from the BME community to be part of our advisory group.” • Follow up information and encouragement to share the post, or content in another channel, e.g. “Share your pictures of #policychange on Twitter and Instagram.”
  25. 25. Turning existing assets into great opportunities to engage You will already have much of what you need to create great content: • Key achievements, past successes, awards, notable work. • Events, activities, reports, feedback, participation data or survey results*. • Projects with clear outcomes and success metrics. • Press and blog coverage, news, timely content associated with press interest in your area. • Behind the scenes details and information on process, new staff or interesting staff achievements. • Relationships with other organisations, performers, notable fans/supporters. • Sharable stories and insider “secrets”* – things that have gone wrong, tips for others, surprising facts, common misunderstandings. • Resources - Images, video, audio, slides, interactive content, etc. • Interesting people to highlight or contribute (e.g. via guest blogs). * Avoiding any genuine secrets, or commercially confidential, inappropriate or embargoed stories.
  26. 26. Your mission for the next 24 hours Do something awesome with social media on your work or area of expertise. That might be • Generating the top tweet of #eplc17 • Attracting lots of new followers or building a new connection through Twitter or LinkedIn • Blogging or sharing a post on your work on, LinkedIn, etc. • Discovering new content by following new people, new blogs, discovering new video content, podcasts etc. Share your awesomeness through the #eplc17 hashtag, or email to tell me how you’ve done something amazing with social media between now and tomorrow AM. There will be a winner*! *for fame, glory, a very nice mention and tweet, but no sparkly prizes.
  27. 27. Evaluating Success It is much easier to understand success if you already know how you will measure it… • Set personal goals and consider establishing SMART Goals, so that you have something clear to evaluate against. SMART Goals are particularly important for projects, campaigns, collaborative work. • Think about what success would look like, what you’d like to achieve, how you will know you’ve achieved this. • Put measuring and evaluation tools in place – these might be technical (e.g. Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics), or survey data, or anecdotal feedback on your social media activity. • Reflect and adapt your approach based on your experience and feedback. (Personal goals could include, e.g: do something awesome with your work using social media in the next 24 hours)
  28. 28. Q&A Over to you! Further comments and questions welcome: Find out more about Digital Scholarship events at #DigScholEd and:

Editor's Notes

  • Social media are go-to places for expertise and advice – that can benefit you both for your own information finding and for proving yourself as an expert in your community.
    Setting up your own presence allows others to differentiate between you and others with same/similar names or roles and establish yourself in the way you want to.
    Social media sites rank highly on Google
    Key figures – CEOs, Senior Managers, Research Councils, Leading Academics and Researchers, etc. are much more accessible via social media allowing you to build a great network.
    Social Media can lead to collaboration, employment, speaking, and other opportunities.
    Social media gives you a way to raise your profile for engaging, outreach etc.