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Research Impact: Use social media effectively

Get strategies to increase the reach of your work and measure your research impact

Get the most out of social media by thinking SMART:

  • Strategy – identify your goal and consider how much time you have to invest
  • Manage – use your time effectively by selecting the most strategic platforms for your goal
  • Audience – consider who your audience is and what they are interested in
  • Review – critically evaluate the results of your social media efforts using analytics
  • Tactics – use images, clear and relatable language, and tags to get people’s attention


Present a clear and consistent image

  • Perform a Google search of your name to be aware of your image, including any existing profiles such as an automatically created Google Scholar profile. We recommend ‘verifying’ your Google Scholar profile using your University of Sydney email address.
  • Use a consistent profile photo across platforms to help people recognise you and choose a photo that reflects who you are as a researcher.
  • Take time to create effective profiles – be concise, be original, and be yourself.
  • Consider your audience – make sure that keywords and descriptions of your interests are consistent and relevant to your audience.


Make connections

  • Familiarise yourself with the community that you are trying to connect with and how they communicate on the platform you have chosen.
  • Start with people you know – colleagues, known researchers in a field, or organisations working in a field for example.


Increase followers and engagement

  • Post regularly and with variety
  • Link your research to current events
  • Keep your profiles up to date
  • Use language and tone appropriate to your audience
  • Include engaging and relatable headlines, photos, videos, and quotes
  • Promote your social media accounts by including them in your email signature, business cards and presentation slides


Manage your time effectively

  • Prioritise using the platforms that are most appropriate for your goals. Compare platforms.
  • Engage in conversations as they happen by scheduling your social media activities at the times when your audience is most active.
  • Be disciplined about how much time you spend on social media. Once established do it more as a background activity.
  • Use tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to manage multiple social media accounts centrally.
  • Feature your social media channels on your blogs and other sites. Linking all the networks you are associated with allows followers of one account to find another


Top tips for specific platforms

  • Concise information sharing
  • Search for hashtags relevant to your work to see who is participating in these conversations
  • Tweet during the most active times, which have been identified as 12:30–1:30pm and 3:30–5pm in Australia generally, but consider when your target audience is most engaged
  • Use no more than two hashtags in any one tweet 
  • ResearchGate users are primarily from the sciences but it is also popular with other disciplines, such as education
  • Ensure that you do not breach copyright when posting your papers
  • Connect with people you know and encourage them to advocate for you
  • Be diligent about privacy settings, as separating the professional and the personal can be an issue, but keep in mind that for public engagement posts will need to be public
  • Post towards the end of the work day
  • Keep introductory text short to get more likes, shares and comments
  • Create and share events
  • Despite its ‘.edu’ domain name, Academia is a commercial platform that requires payment to access some of its features
  • Most popular for the humanities and social sciences
  • Carefully consider your goals in using LinkedIn as its value varies between disciplines (Carrigan, 2016, p. 31)
  • Business-focused
  • Make your profile public so that people can view your information
  • Promote yourself to industry and business by writing LinkedIn articles connecting your research to industry-relevant issues

Compare social media platforms


Make use of analytics and altmetrics to get the most out of social media

Many social media platforms include analytics. This information can help you to improve the level of engagement you are achieving or identify unexpected audiences for your research. For example, once turned on, Twitter analytics can provide an overview of how many times your tweets have been viewed, times when tweets were viewed, and demographics of followers.

When reviewing analytics you could consider a number of points, such as:

  • Which posts have gained the most attention? Do these have anything in common such as a similar topic or style that people may be interested in or find appealing? This could help you to develop a more engaging style.
  • Do your posts get more attention at a particular time? This could provide insight into the geographic location of your followers or allow you to engage more effectively by modifying when you post.
  • Do your followers have something unexpected in common? For example, are you attracting followers who work in a particular field or are located in a particular country? This could indicate a potential new audience or collaborators for your research.
  • Are you reaching the people you want to influence?


Read more

Carrigan, M. (2016). Social media for academics. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Konkiel, S. (n.d.).  The 30-Day impact challenge: the ultimate guide to raising the profile of your research.

Miah, A. (2016). The A to Z of Social Media for Academia, Times Higher Education.

Mollett, A., Moran, D. & Dunleavy, P. (2011). Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities: a guide for academics and researchers. London: LSE Public Policy Group.

Key tools

Copyright and licensing

It is important to keep copyright in mind, even when sharing your own work. Researchers have been asked to remove copies of articles posted online in the past.

Read more about copyright and licensing.