“Hey, did you see #RealLifeScientist trending this morning on Twitter? So good!”
“No… What’s a ‘Twitter’?” ?
Ok, you’re probably not that bad, but we work with a number of scientists who don’t know what they should be doing with social media. Twitter can be incredibly powerful when used properly, connecting scientists from around the globe. However it isn’t as straightforward as Facebook. Don’t despair, we’re here to help.
Can I be myself?
If you explore the thousands of scientist profiles on the Twittersphere you’ll notice how they aren’t all wearing lab coats, posing with a pipette. Injecting a bit of your own personality into your account is absolutely fine. You’re more than welcome to keep it strictly professional, but posting occasionally about your life outside of the lab or classroom won’t trigger a mass exodus of followers. Just remember that many of your followers might only be interested in your science side.
If you need a profile as an example, step into the social world of Dr Paige Jarreau in this insightful post on her blog From The Lab Bench. PS – she rocks.
Where are my friends and why is no-one liking my stuff?!
Twitter is a very different beast to Facebook and Instagram. It can take a while to build a following and even longer to see steady engagement on your tweets. Don’t expect a flood of adoration when you post a filtered image of your commute frappé. It takes some getting used to, but try to get in the habit of interacting directly with people more frequently than you post. You don’t need to be posting all the time – unless you’ve got loads of things to be shouting about. Retweeting and simply reading can help you get the most out of the platform.
Politics or no politics?
Similar to a conversation over the dinner table or at work, talking about politics on social media can produce mixed results. Simply bashing certain politicians or campaigns will get you nowhere (no matter how much of a release it may feel), but providing constructive comments and taking part in movements like #MarchForScience can help you network with like-minded scientists.
So, do I just talk to people?
100% yes. If there’s one thing Twitter is good for is collaboration and debate. We’ve seen plenty of awesome conversations erupt around antibody quality, PhD advice, and conferences. Even if it’s just saying ‘yay! ?’ when someone got a great result in the lab, just do it.
Can I share other people’s work?
Conferences are becoming more socially savvy – AACR recently published social media guidelines for attendees – but the rules are sometimes unclear. It’s always safer to check whether you can post images from a presentation or poster sessions. Although the sector is collaborative, it’s also competitive! The debate on its relevance at events been going on for a while…
— Tiffany Lohwater (@tiffanylohwater) October 8, 2015
I don’t know who to follow!
Twitter will make recommendations to you, however here are a few of prolific tweetists. It’s a mixture of labs, researchers and journos from various disciplines. It’ll help get you going in the right direction! Get in touch if you think you’re influential enough to be on this list.
Follow @vickyyyf Follow @sopharthur Follow @teatimesci Follow @biotweeps Follow @thewhitakerlab Follow @humanproteome Follow @realscientists Follow @hymanlab Follow @theluftiglab Follow @phdforum Follow @thebrainbabe Follow @phdcomics Follow @mad_phd Follow @helena_LB Follow @madS100tist Follow @AdamRutherford Follow @FryRsquared Follow @garwboy Follow @grrlscientist Follow @upulie Follow @skepchicks Follow @SITP
And of course…
Now, go forth on your adventure in the digital world in a blaze of favorites and retweets! If you need some more persuading, check out this call to arms for all scientists to take to social.
Fancy writing for Tipbox? Got an awesome story to tell? Then we want to hear! Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with story pitches, ideas, hilarious bants, or maybe you just want a bit of a chat. Whatever it is, we want it. And then we'll share it. You may or may not become instantly famous.