Community building with social media: case of @ResearchUGent
I hope you agree with me that research policy at a large university is so much more than
developing financial incentives, assessment frameworks, efficient workflows, and
scoreboards of indicators.
Essentially it’s about people.
Call us naive or even soft but at Ghent University we believe that a happy researcher
makes for a good researcher and great science. That’s why people and HR management
are at the heart of our research policy.
This understanding only increased when our unit started exploring how we could better
support our researchers and our powers that be in solidifying their place in society, in
setting up sustainable collaboration with the many stakeholders and beneficairies of
We realised we needed a strategy for research communication and impact.
And more than ever, we needed our approach to be multi-channel.
How else do you reach over 6000 researchers?
How do you get them to reach their specific audiences?
Could social media be part of the answer?
Around the autumn of 2011 I started looking into this more carefully.
What social media were out there, and more importantly, which were researchers
What could we as a research administration quickly and easily master?
Which platform would be best suited to our objectives?
Twitter seemed to be just the ticket! <CLICK>
So we set up a Twitter account (without the unanimous support of our Communications
Office, I might add) and by January 2012 I was happily tweeting away and gradually
building up the network around us.
Twitter offered us this great mix of business meets pleasure, public meets private.
It allows for short and snappy messages. Is easy to set up and use, and quite accessible.
It seemed like a small investment for our big ambitions.
Furthermore at least part of the research community seemed to have already embraced
it as one of their tools.
We ended up being many things to our research community.
And after five intense years of building up our engagement we started to see real
I know this might look like peanuts compared to Justin Bieber – or more aptly, Neil
deGrasse Tyson – but it still makes me immensely proud.
And numbers might whow my superiors, for me it’s all about the people, the community
that communicate and interact, about the knowledge being shared.
Out of curiosity and driven by ever more research and discussion on the topic, we even
started our own small scale study. It might help us to add our voice to the on/offline
debate but also better support our researchers and followers.
I could talk about this for hours but I won’t. I will conclude with the lessons we’ve
Presentation available on SlideShare
Esther De Smet - Broader Impacts Summit
- 20 April 2016