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How scientists can make the most of Twitter

Introduction: Why Twitter is Important for Scientists?

Twitter is a social media platform that has been used as a science communication tool for many years. In this guide, we will explore how to use Twitter as a scientist and promote your science on Twitter while also giving you tips on how to build your Twitter following.

Twitter is a powerful tool for scientists to communicate their research with the public. It can be used to get feedback from peers and form collaborations. Twitter also helps scientists keep up with the latest developments in their field.

We will explore the pros and cons of using Twitter for science communication, the best practices for tweeting as a scientist, the best way to find new followers, and more.

Why Twitter?

Scientists use social media to get news, just like everyone else, so posting regular content can raise the profile of your work. 47 per cent of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) use social media to keep up with new scientific discoveries and talk about science. Building networks of social media followers has made it easier for scientists from all over the world to talk to each other and work together.

Twitter hashtags have also made it easier (and in some cases automated) to find individuals with similar interests. This means a scientist’s tweets are likely to reach other scientists, leading to additional reads and citations. Indeed, in 2014, a study found that researchers who tweet and talk to the media about their work get higher citations. Twitter is adding to or taking the place of automated search and alert services, such as those that find relevant literature.

There is a large academic community speaking about academic life in general, not just research. If you’re interested in learning more, search for relevant hashtags like #ScienceTwitter or #AcademicChatter.

Raise your profile by sharing your work

A writer typing on a laptopn

Sharing a scientific paper’s URL is not enough. For those who aren’t familiar with your subject, the title might be perplexing and difficult to grasp. Making a thread, or series of connected tweets, is the ideal method to spread a paper, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Begin by writing a tweet, then clicking on a plus symbol at the bottom to add another. Don’t forget to mention what article you’re referring to and provide a link in your initial tweet if you can.

Selecting your Twitter strategy

Just like any form of communication, you need to define your goals, then identify and empathise with your audience. Ask yourself the following questions:

Who are you trying to reach?

What are you going to talk about?

How can people engage with your content?

How will it generate impact and interest in your research?


Photo by ICSA

If you are going to a meeting, Twitter and other networking tools can help you find people there who are interested in the same research as you are. If you can’t go, Twitter can tell you what talks and posters people liked and where to find shared materials like websites or slides if you can’t be there. While it’s not the same as being there in person, following a conference hashtag on Twitter can give you a great deal of information.

Tips for using Twitter at conferences:

All of your Tweets from the conference should use the event’s official hashtag. If you use the hashtag, your Tweet will be part of the larger discussion and more likely to be seen by others who are following the event.

Let others know what you learned from the presentations by quoting them. There must be an intriguing fact or slide being shown by the presenter. Take a picture and post it to your social media accounts. But always check beforehand whether this is permitted—most conferences have social media policies saying what is and is not acceptable

If you’re quoting a speaker, make sure you include their Twitter handle if they have one.

Getting to know others or learning new things is easier when you ask questions. Taking a trip to a conference on your own? Inquire about meeting up with other participants. Having trouble deciding what breakout session to attend? Take the time to get input from your audience.

Share helpful information. Do anyone know of a good coffee place or restaurant nearby? Is there a breakout session worth attending? It’s a good idea to spread the word about the event through social media.

5 Top Tips For Using Twitter as a Scientist

Be concise: If you find that you are running out of capacity in your tweet, omit superfluous words and s keep it under 120 characters so that other people have room in their tweets to retweet it.

Be vivid: write with everyday nouns and verbs, and avoid jargon. Your tweet will have a greater chance of being retweeted by others if it is well written and draws people’s attention to itself. Imagine that you are creating a headline for a newspaper. You need to get people’s attention in some way.

Always check your tweet before hitting “send”. Once a tweet has been sent out into the world, it cannot be edited. Never tweet when angry or distracted!

Think about your audience: why would they find the information you are sharing interesting? It’s fantastic to tweet about your own work, but if you are only ever promoting yourself, people will get bored.

Make your content visually appealing: posts with images and video are shared far more often than those with text alone.

Further advice

If you would like to lear more about how to share your science on social media, please take a look at our range of courses.

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