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Tweeting and Blogging for Academics


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Slides accompanying the University of Edinburgh Digital Day of Ideas 2016 (#DigScholEd) workshop on Tweeting and Blogging for Academics run by Nicola Osborne (EDINA) and Lorna Campbell (EDINA/LTW). The workshop took place on 18th May 2016. Read more about the event here:

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Tweeting and Blogging for Academics

  1. 1. Tweeting & Blogging for Academics Nicola Osborne ( & Lorna M. Campbell (
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. Why Use Blogs, Twitter, Social Media? Social media, and Blogs and Twitter in particular… • Are go-to spaces for expertise and advice. • Offer different 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 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.
  4. 4. Which tool 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. • Twitter - very effective way to share key research updates, build a network around your work, find peer support and advice, track news. Complemented by… • 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. • Flickr, Instagram, etc. – any images bring a project to life – research is about people, ideas, events, collaboration, equipment... Images make your ideas, achievements and discoveries far more tangible.
  5. 5. Today, we’ll be looking at… • Using blogs and Twitter to communicate your research project or activity • Using social media to amplify academic events
  6. 6. Using Blogging & Tweeting to Communicate Your Research Nicola Osborne
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. Popular Blog Platforms & Communities • – world’s largest blogging platform, SEO-friendly, offers wide range of themes, templates, etc. Very broad and active range of bloggers and blog readers/commenters in the community. Some “Following” and related options that are only available on WordPress hosted blogs. Great options for describing your posts with tags, categories, featured images, extracts, etc. • – widely used and well supported self-hosted blogs based on the same software (and functionality) as Appropriate privacy and commenting settings crucial as can be target for hackers. Again, a wide and varied community of users. Self-hosted bloggers tend to be organisations, freelancers, techies. • Medium – newer blog/writing platforms, for long form opinion pieces. Designed on a “story” basis, expecting single articles to be shared more than “blogs” as a whole. Minimal design flexibility but good social sharing functionality. • Blogger – long standing platform, owned by Google so works well if you already use Google Apps, Google+, etc. Integrated with Feedburner (but you can use this with any blog). • Tumblr – highly visual site, a cross between a blog and Pinterest. High usage with younger internet users and some specific communities (e.g. graphic novel/comic book communities). Useful creative possibilities, and engaged community in the right interest/age ranges. Allows more formatting and blog like functionality than Instagram but shares a similar dynamic and mobile-first style. • LinkedIn Pulse and Long-Form Posts/Facebook Notes – LinkedIn and Facebook both have blog-like functionality built into them. Formatting options are minimal but these are effective spaces if your community is very active in one of these spaces. Sometimes appropriate to repost from traditional spaces to these tools using, e.g. IFTTT, Known, etc.
  9. 9. 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.
  10. 10. 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 project or personal blog should look and feel like the right space for your intended audience(s), and/or you can always provide guest content for others blogs. Tip: indulge in a little benign “stalking”, see what works well and why.
  11. 11. What makes a great blog? • Designed with a specific audience and purpose in mind - or structured into clear segments for different audiences or purposes. • Regular relevant and engaging content • Clearly branded with standard logos, “about” text, etc. • Clear path for audience to engage with or contact the organisation. • Embedded within, or well linked to, key authoritative web presences and information. • Clearly connected to other social channels, with sharing buttons/functionality that make it easy for your audience to share content. • Visually appealing design, which may be differentiated from main web presences but is in-keeping (e.g. colours, fonts, etc.) • Strong navigation and routes to explore content – via menus, tags, categories, authors, search, use of featured images for content, etc.
  12. 12. Academic Blogging: Mary Beard
  13. 13. Storytelling: NPR’s Seed to Shirt
  14. 14. Guest/Collaborative Blog: Dangerous Women Project
  15. 15. 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.
  16. 16. And what 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. • Quirky, playful and accessible content around your work and research area. • Publications, presentations, press mentions and materials that reflect research outputs and expertise. • Work that you are proud of and that helps others understand what you do, and how they can collaborate or follow your work.
  17. 17. 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. • 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.
  18. 18. Use what you already have… You can write great blog posts around existing assets like: • Key achievements, past successes, notable milestones and outcomes. • Events, activities, reports, feedback, publications. • Press and blog coverage, news. • Behind the scenes details and information on process, discoveries or interesting staff achievements. • Relationships with other organisations, events, project partners, notable stakeholders. • Resources - Images, video, audio, slides, content, etc. • Interesting people to highlight or contribute – colleagues, students, stakeholder community members, peers, etc.
  19. 19. Planning Blog & Twitter Activity • 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?
  20. 20. Building Engagement What are your priorities for this post/series of posts/project? • Who are you trying to reach? How can you do that? • What do you want your audience to get out of it? • What next step would you want an audience member to take? • Do you want feedback or comment? Do you have a purpose or use in mind? • How can you encourage and support them to participate or contribute? • What would success look like? Start by thinking about your audience: • What is their interest here? • Why should they engage? What’s in it for them? • What recognition or reward is there for taking part? What will make them come back and take part again?
  21. 21. Engaging your audience What level of engagement are you looking for? • Sharing of the post – easy, lightweight. Will you repost/retweet/share onwards to encourage this? • Comments – more involved. Are there questions or limitations that you can set to make this easy? Will you respond to comments? What will you do with comments you receive? How will you handle problem comments/reported issues? Can you seed the comments by asking particular people to be involved? • Participation/attendance of an event – more involved, may require encouraging your audience to spend money. How can you build excitement and encourage them to take that next step? What do you need to signpost here? Are there tags/hashtags your post should include to encourage buzz? • Guest posts, participation in a project or much more involved participation. How can you motivate your audience? Who is/is not in scope? How can you make the process clear and coherent? How will you manage expectations (and potential disappointment)?
  22. 22. 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 your highlight of DDI 2016? Tell us in the comments below.” • A link or sign post to the next step, e.g. “Click here to book for this seminar.” 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. Contact use to find out more.” • Follow up information and encouragement to share the post, or content in another channel, e.g. “Share your pictures of #DigScholEd on Twitter and Instagram.”
  23. 23. Task: Calls to action Consider a blog post you would like to write… • What is your goal for this post? What do you want it to achieve? • What do you want your audience to do after they read this post? What is their next step? • Is there other content, or an obvious next step – a face to face event, a publication they can read - that you want to signpost them to? • Can you create discussion around this post? What question, invitation or provocation will stimulate that? • How will you respond to that discussion? What is the motivation and reward for taking part? • How will you promote the post around your call to action? What might make it stand out? • Could the action your audience takes next lead to more content, another post, some follow up activity?
  24. 24. Maintaining Social Media channels • Brand your presences and ensure you complete your profile information. Always link back to your definitive research profiles and project websites. • Regularly share interesting engaging content, use images, listen to and engage with the audiences you are reaching out to. • Ensure you keep profiles and presences up to date and relevant, review their effectiveness, and ensure they represent your work as you want it to be seen.
  25. 25. Tweetdeck
  26. 26. Managing and Moderating Feedback Blogs are public and can present some risks. • Always use Comment Moderation and have a clear process for who will approve comments. Quick approval (and response) will be much more encouraging for your audience. • Spam Prevention and settings matter. For WordPress Akismet works well. Always “blacklist” repeat offenders. Check settings to minimise any risks (e.g. not allowing comments with links without moderation; self-hosted WordPress sites should switch off XML-RPC). • For projects, consider having “House Rules” or commenting policies that help your audience understand what is, and is not appropriate behaviour (many media sites offer good examples, e.g. Guardian, BBC, etc.) • Ensure more than one person has access to the blog, and to moderate comments, and that it is always clear who is expected to manage the comments around a post, and understands processes for managing difficult or problematic content
  27. 27. Social media guidelines can be helpful… guidelines.html
  28. 28. Managing Expectations The biggest risk around commenting is not getting any comments at all. • Be realistic about what you are asking your audience to do. • Make it easy to take part. If you get a lot of responses, be open about any delays or issues arising from that (in a positive way). • Be swift and clear about how you will manage comments. • Respect and reward contribution. Promote it when appropriate. • Manage colleagues expectations around participation and engagement. • Do make an effort to encourage participation but don’t be too needy – your audience might be enjoying what you do but not interested in commenting. • Reflect on what does and doesn’t work and feed that into future plans.
  29. 29. Task: Draft a blog/Twitter schedule Make a plan for the next 3-6 months for your own or your project’s blog and/or (key) Twitter activity... • What are the key events, significant dates, project milestones or engagement opportunities? • What makes those events, opportunities or moments unique, interesting, and relevant? • What assets do you have (or might you need) for this post – images, video, audio, publications, etc. • What call to action could you use? • Who will write the content? When could it be written? • When should the posts go live? • How will you promote this content and engage your audience with it? • Can you use this content again? You might also think about any dependencies that you may have here – press releases that need to go out before you can share the blog, project reports being complete, publications going live, etc.
  30. 30. Evaluating Success It is much easier to understand success if you already know how you will measure it… • Establish SMART Goals for your blog, particular campaigns/series of posts, so that you have something clear to evaluate against. • 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, which could include: • Google Analytics – including tracking codes for specific promotional channels or referrals if you have capacity to set these up. Work out which of the many metrics, or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you want to use against your SMART goals as there are more than you can usefully capture. • Use in-built analytics/measures (e.g. stats; Twitter analytics, links; Tumblr reposts and likes; Blogger stats; etc.) • Include your blog in existing audience research where appropriate – surveys, focus groups, informal feedback processes. • Capture engagement for each post – number of comments, shares, or any key follow on work or outcomes associated with it, including new opportunities, impact stories, etc.
  31. 31. Google Analytics
  32. 32. A successful post… But why? Our most popular post, every year since it went live.. • 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 won’t make all our posts the same as it doesn’t fit our wider goals and objectives. 2/02/01/war-horse-highlights-on-jisc- mediahub/
  33. 33. Taking this forward: Action Plan Take a look at the action plan after today’s session – it should help you to capture your notes and ideas for knitting this all together and putting it into action. Be realistic and reflect, and re- evaluate regularly.
  34. 34. Q&A Questions?
  35. 35. Contact Nicola Osborne Digital Education Manager and Service Manager eLearning@ed Convener EDINA, University of Edinburgh @suchprettyeyes CC BY Nicola Osborne, unless otherwise indicated.
  36. 36. Using Social Media to Amplify Academic Events Lorna M. Campbell
  37. 37. What is event amplification? “An amplified conference is a conference or similar event in which the talks and discussions at the conference are 'amplified' through use of networked technologies in order to extend the reach of the conference deliberations.” ference
  38. 38. Social media can be used to amplify • Audiences voices, discussion & debate (Twitter, blogs). • Speakers and keynotes (audio & video streams, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, MediaHopper, liveblogs, sketchnotes). • Slides (SlideShare, Prezi). • Conference outputs (Flickr, SlideShare, YouTube, Storify, TAGS, tableau, reflective blogs, sketchnotes).
  39. 39. Why amplify an event? • To encourage audience engagement. • To encourage remote participation. • To enable wider participation and public engagement. • To ensure your event is accessible. • To keep an archive of your event. • To add to your academic portfolio. • To encourage conversations to continue after event. • To reflect on and analyse event
  40. 40. What kind of events benefit from amplification? • Conferences. • Seminars. • Workshops. • Project launches. • Pretty much anything!
  41. 41. Hashtags! “A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content.” Can be used across multiple channels (Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, blogs). #EdinDS #DigScholEd #DDI16
  42. 42. Choosing & using your hashtag • Keep it short, no spaces or underscores, include date. • Check it’s not being used already. • Circulate well in advance. • Use hashtag to disseminate event, e.g. CFPs, dates, registration info. • Use the hashtag to build up community around event. • Don’t use multiple hashtags for different conference strands. • Display hashtag on event website, programmes, agenda, etc.
  43. 43. Using twitter to amplify events • Display hashtag prominently. • Remind participants to use it. • Invite questions for speakers from remote participants on twitter. • Consider having an official twitter live feed for keynotes, etc. • Use speakers’ twitter handles, e.g. @lornamcampbell • Twitter walls and fountains. Image credit: Luc Van Braekel, CC BY 2.0,
  44. 44. Beware the backchannel “Backchannel is the practice of using networked computers to maintain a real-time online conversation alongside the primary group activity or live spoken remarks. The term "backchannel" generally refers to online conversation about the conference topic or speaker.” Backchannel conversations may or may not use the hashtag.
  45. 45. Playful use of twitter for amplification • Add participants’ twitter handles to name tags. • Use for games and social activities. • All build community round events. • Useful to engage remote participants. • Natural Sciences Collections Association #NatSCA2016 and #NatSciFashion
  46. 46. Livestreaming • Live film or audio broadcast of speakers. • Expected of major events. • Important for remote participation and public engagement. • Think about cost and logistics. • Need to manage expectations. • May be institutional facilities available. • Periscope offers quick and dirty solution. • Requires media permissions. • Recorded streams can be shared on YouTube, MediaHopper, etc.
  47. 47. Livestreaming Image credit: Anna Page, CC BY 2.0 m/photos/acpage/25 944147414/in/album- 72157665077094714 /
  48. 48. Photography • Can use official photographer… • …or encourage all delegates to share photographs. • Upload to Twitter, Flickr or Instagram. • Use the hashtag. • Not necessary to seek permission but.. • …polite to ask • Allow participants to opt out of photographs.
  49. 49. Sketchnotes • Visual representation of presentations. • Another way to capture and disseminate information. • Nice take away for speakers. Image credit: Bea de los Arcos, 32128
  50. 50. Sketchnotes Image credit: Beck Pitt, CC BY 2.0 m/photos/40959105 @N00/sets/7215766 7593223021
  51. 51. Sharing Presentations • Ask presenters to upload to SlideShare. • Can also use dedicated conference account. • Ask permission to upload. • Tag presentations. • Can also use Prezi, Google Slides, etc. • Particularly valuable for keynotes.
  52. 52. Blogging • Live blogging – captures a realtime transcript of talks and discussions. • Reflective blogging – reflective blogs posted after presentations. • Consider using volunteers to blog conference sessions. • Set up dedicated conference blog. • Use blog feeds to aggregate tagged post. • Use the conference tag.
  53. 53. Archiving amplified events using Storify • • Storify allows users to create stories or timelines from social media. • Add content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, SoundCloud, etc. • Add links, comments annotations. • Share and embed stories. • Notify people named in the story. • Use the hashtag.
  54. 54. Storify Interface
  55. 55. #edDDI Storify
  56. 56. Social network analysis with Tableau • • Visualise and share social network data. Image credit: Simon Thomson, 0038722247458817, #nlc2016
  57. 57. Social network analysis with Tableau Image credit: Simon Thomson,, #nlc2016
  58. 58. Archiving Twitter with TAGS & TAGSExplorer • • Developed by Martin Hawksey. • Free and powerful.
  59. 59. TAGSExplorer #OER16
  60. 60. TAGSExplorer #OER16
  61. 61. Last but not least • If you want your delegates to tweet, blog & share images make sure they have access to power and wifi. • If you’re taking pictures, sit at the front. • USE THE HASHTAG!
  62. 62. Activity Create a Storify of the Day of Digital Ideas tweets.
  63. 63. Contact Lorna M. Campbell OER Liaison – Open Scotland University of Edinburgh @lornamcambell CC BY Lorna M. Campbell, unless otherwise indicated.