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.
Enhancing your research impact through social media - Nicola Osborne
Enhancing your research impact
through social media
Digital Education Manager, EDINA
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
• Passionate about social media, communication, and public engagement in all
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.)
– 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, Academia.edu, 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)
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
• 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
‘an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy
or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’.
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
• Offer inexpensive ways to raise your own profile and that of your research.
This time it’s personal…
• Social media are about people, personality and
• 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
• 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
“Username: LauraGil4 on
Storytelling)” by Flickr user Laura
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, Academia.edu, 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.
Where do your own audiences hang out?
• Loose blogging and Twitter communities exist
for almost any interest, agenda, and location
• 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,
Tip: indulge in a little benign “stalking”, see what
works well and why.
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
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
• 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,
• Search engine-friendly content management system.
• Content sources for social networking sites, sharing, buzz generation.
Successful blogs don’t fit one pattern,
they have their own voice and style…
Making law relevant to pop culture:
Colin Yeo on Free Movement blog
Reflection & context: former Court of Appeal
judge Sir Henry Brooke
Early career development reflections: Law
Society of Scotland Trainee & NQ blogs
Twitter is a powerful tool…
• For networking, building personal
connections, sharing your work.
• For promoting your blog,
encouraging participation in
• For publicising papers, publications,
appearances, milestones and
• Staying up to date with your field
and engaging in dialogue with your
own and the wider community. https://analytics.twitter.com/
Twitter: Who do you follow?
• People who you work with, whose work and publications you follow or
• Influential people in your field, policy makers (if appropriate), experts
outside academic research.
• Professional bodies and societies, journals, news services, specialist alerts,
• 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]
Some useful legal tweeps @lilianedwards,
@CharlesOppenh, @LawLibCongress, @PaulBernalUK
Twitter stories, jargon, etc.
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
– 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
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
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).
Podcasts can be powerful for discovering &
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.
• 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
Planning content & activity
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
• Anything you would not want a funder, professional peer, project
partner, or future employer to see or read.
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.
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
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
• 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.
Your mission for the next 24 hours
Do something awesome with social media on your work or area of
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 Academia.edu, LinkedIn,
• Discovering new content by following new people, new blogs,
discovering new video content, podcasts etc.
Share your awesomeness through the #eplc17 hashtag, or email
email@example.com 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.
It is much easier to understand success if you already know how you will measure
• 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)
Over to you!
Further comments and questions
Find out more about Digital Scholarship
events at #DigScholEd and: