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Social media and blogging to develop and communicate research in the arts and humanities - Nicola Osborne


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Slides accompanying Nicola Osborne's(EDINA Digital Education Manager) session on "Social media and blogging to develop and communicate research in the arts and humanities" at the "Academic Publishing: Routes to Success" event held at the University of Stirling on 23rd January 2017.

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Social media and blogging to develop and communicate research in the arts and humanities - Nicola Osborne

  1. 1. Social media and blogging to develop and communicate research in the arts and humanities #AcBookWeek 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). • 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… • 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. • Are 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. So, where do your audience/s 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.
  8. 8. 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.
  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 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 The Conversation, is a great blog-like platform for academic engagement – highlighting new work and commentary that also feeds into mainstream print and broadcast news spaces.
  10. 10. Successful blogs don’t fit one pattern, they have their own voice and style…
  11. 11. 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 and projects 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. • Blogs are a great way to practice writing for different audiences and find your own non-academic voice.
  12. 12. Guest/Collaborative Blog: Dangerous Women Project
  13. 13. What makes a compelling blog post? • Images – at least one, more if they have a real role in the story. • A compelling story that speaks to your audience. • Something surprising, unexpected, delightful, important, playful. • Something useful, purposeful, relevant to your research area/project and to your intended audience. • Clear concise, well checked writing – whether 100 words, 250-300 words, or longer (if your audience engage with long form content). • Good use of links and appropriate resources (e.g. embedded video, audio, images) within the text. • A genuine call to action and clear next step for your audience/readers – even if that’s to read on... • Good tagging, categories, author information, sensible URL. • Good promotion, sharing, follow up. • Feedback and engagement with any comments, acknowledgement and reward for participation.
  14. 14. Playful blogging bridging academia and pop culture: Colin Yeo on the Free Movement blog 14
  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 applies across social media] 16
  17. 17. Some interesting tweeps:@melissaterras, @katecrawford, @OrkneyLibrary, @warholmooc @praymurray 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: home – 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 olabmoreperfect audio/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. 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.
  22. 22. 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 • 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 voice and personal or organisational/project 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. • Be creative – what images, video or new digital tools could help you to communicate your work in new ways?
  23. 23. 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.
  24. 24. A successful post… But why? The most popular post on one of our blogs, for 4 years in a row… • A niche subject but of high interest. • Originally timed to fit release of the film War Horse. • Well publicised and shared on release. • Well linked to and well tagged – easy to find and well ranked by search engines. • Included rare content. • It’s a good post but… We didn’t make all of our posts fit the same model or subject area as that would not have fit with our wider goals and objectives. war-horse-highlights-on-jisc-mediahub/
  25. 25. Q&A Over to you! Further comments and questions welcome: Find more resources on social media in research, impact and teaching contexts at: