Social media for scientists

How and why to use social media to promote your research


Why social media matters for researchers

Social media can help you promote your research, learn about the latest findings, and forge collaborations leading to speaking engagements, publications, or grants. 

Social media succeeds by breadth and speed. Suppose you just published a paper. One post including a link to the e-pub can reach more people than anyone you might see at a conference simply because social media is cheaper than airfare and conference fees. Your post can be seen by thousands of other researchers in seconds. This is exponentially faster than searching for your new e-pub, and guaranteed to reach more people than the journal's website (or PubMed Central if you're being fully compliant).

To stay connected, current, and informed, you need to understand how social media works. Even better, start creating your own content. There are online colleagues you have yet to meet who want to know what you have to say.

The training described below focuses on Twitter, and similar ground rules apply across all platforms.

A short introduction to Twitter

In this 12-minute video produced by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), you will learn the following:

  • Why Twitter is useful for scientific exchange
  • How to find helpful and/or interesting content
  • How to start creating your own content
  • How to interact meaningfully and appropriately with others on all types of social media (the basic rules are universal)

You may also enjoy this ASM article, which expands on the concepts introduced in the video and includes more examples of the kinds of research information that can be shared via Twitter. 

A longer introduction to Twitter

The Emory University CFAR kindly allowed us to share this video of their 2.5-hour workshop on social media for academic researchers, with an emphasis on Twitter. The workshop was led by Carlos del Rio, one of the Emory CFAR Directors, and a serious proponent of social media. If you are just starting on Twitter, Dr. del Rio is one of the best individuals to follow. You will see in action all of the ideas discussed in the links on this page while learning about current HIV and public health research at Emory and beyond.

In this recorded workshop, you will learn the following:

  • A definition of social media and its platforms (Twitter, Reddit, Research Gate, etc.)
  • Ways to use social media in medicine and science
  • How to use Twitter to increase awareness of your own research and become an influencer, not just a follower
  • The basics of bibliometrics and why these analytics are augmenting, maybe even replacing PubMed citations
  • How other Emory University scientists use Twitter to connect with students and other researchers

Still got cold feet? Stop worrying and start tweeting because a single social media post has a half-life of just 90 minutes. That's right: unless a conversation develops, millions of posts are forgotten after about 3 hours. This might happen to you the first few times, but stay with it. You will soon gain followers and friends.

At a Glance