Bildungsforum Potsdam (credit: Lutki)

How to use social media as an academic – Training on Digital Science Communication

In November 2015, I attended a training on Digital Science Communication at the Potsdam Graduate School. The group consisted mostly of different kinds of biologists, including the trainer Johanna Havemann. Motivations ranged from using social media for personal profiling and marketing to using digital media for outreach in scientific projects. I was a bit lost as the sole social scientist, but it was still fun.

We spent the day mostly exploring different platforms and their potential for our academic purposes.

As I don’t want to steal Johanna’s workshop contents, let me just point out some of my personal highlights of the day:

  • Altmetrics as a hub to different tools for alternative impact measurements of academic publications, mostly in terms of social media diffusion. As a result, I now use the Altmetric Bookmarklet to monitor my own publications as well as to catch a quick glance at the impact of other’s publications.
  • Pinterest for academics: I always had the very cliché impression that Pinterest is mostly used as a scrapbook for potential wedding dresses and possible new haircuts. However, there is apparently a thriving use of Pinterest by academics for more professional purposes. I haven’t checked it out yet, but already found a nice introductory blog post to guide my advances.
  • Mendeley’s social network aspect seems to be working very differently in from discipline to discipline. While in my social science cosmos, Mendeley’s social network function is a sad web ruin, Johanna showed me the vibrant contents of her biology networks.
  • Mendeley has a ‘new’ Suggest function that presents you with trending publications from your discipline and also identifies potentially interesting articles based on your existing Mendeley library. When I first tried the feature, I was shocked how the suggested publication at the very top of my Mendeley Suggest page could have possibly gone unnoticed in my literature research.
  • Faculti.net is an interesting video platform that is dedicated to academic and professional content and already has some high-quality content. Even though it seems to be semi-closed and lacking social media integration at the moment.
  • A very nice resource to get your grips on how to use social media as an academic is the article “An Introduction to Social Media for Scientists” by Holly Bik and Miriam Goldstein. I find it a bit weird that it was published in PLoS Biology, but its still a useful first starting point that can be complemented by the many guides and tips for using the different social media platforms ‘as an academic’ – just google it.

The workshop has certainly given me a new boost and a little more strategic thinking for curating my ‘professional’ social media presence.

Photo credit: “Freihandausleihe der Stadt- und Landesbibliothek Potsdam im Erdgeschoss” by Lutki

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