For the early riser, one of the most engaging things about twitter is seeing snapshots of news. My bite sized attention span, pre caffeine at 6am, can grasp the latest political scandal in nanoseconds. Long gone are the days of bland tweets about breakfast food choices.
http://twitpic.com/135xa – There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.
— Janis Krums (@jkrums) January 15, 2009
"Early user Janis Krums happened to be on a ferry when a plane went down in the Hudson River." -> this is why I joined Twitter in Feb 2009.
— Andras Toth (@tothur) March 21, 2015
If twitter can demand our attention with a humble 140 characters, and even compel us to retweet these snips, then it’s no surprise that it’s an equally effective tool for academia. Here are a few ideas about becoming engaged with twitter and using it better.
Many academics at Macquarie have active twitter accounts. It’s part of developing a researcher profile. It can be used for sharing news about publications as well as personal views. Whilst twitter can’t convey complex ideas and research, it can point to them and heighten awareness.
Just spent 45 minutes debating the necessity of the Oxford comma. I'm officially an English major.
— Katie Weatherly (@Katie_Lady93) September 4, 2016
I thought an Oxford comma was just a privileged, well educated comma, that enjoyed rowing on the Thames.
— Fat ᗪiggity™ (@sofarrsogud) September 9, 2016
Hashtags are great for building community. Good examples are #PHDchat, #SocialMedia, #librariesrock, #twiterstorians and #academicwriting. You can also use a tag for a group you are convening: for instance, #MResLib16 is currently in use for a Masters of Research group here.
Follow interesting people and groups, as you’ll then have an interesting feed. It’s all about setting up a curated flow of ideas which will engage and inform you. For example, @AcademicsSay, @scholarlykitchn, @thesiswhisperer as well as general news, such as @HuffPostAu, @timeshighered. Of course, don’t forget our handle @Macquarie_Uni
— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) September 9, 2016
When choosing your Twitter handle, keep it short and easy. You can use your banner to promote your latest book, or a conference you’re organising. You’ll gain many of your followers from tweeting at conferences, and generally whisking out commentary on interesting stuff.
The library database Altmetric Explorer tracks twitter references to academic material. If you’re curious to know more about this, have a look at this example, which is affiliated to Macquarie, and has been tweeted over 3400 times. Your Research Librarian can also offer guidance on Altmetric Explorer.
For more tips on using twitter effectively, read this guide from ‘The Online Academic’ titled “How to grow your Twitter network”. You might also like to look at the social media guidelines from Macquarie University.
You can make a catalogue of the best tweets and pics you’ve posted from a hashtag using ‘storify’. This can be useful when you want to save tweets from a conference permanently, and filter out any dribble – you can share the story of what went down with others. This link is a good guide on how to do this, and here is an example.
— Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay) September 13, 2016
Twitter is no longer a brave new world. It’s a mainstream and, some would argue, vital part of our landscape. With widespread use in academia jumping on and using it well is worth considering.
If you have a favourite twitter moment or hashtag, be part of the conversation and post it below.