Growing your research community using social media channels doesn’t have to be a daunting task.
Building a strong Social Web presence for your research community requires little effort.
The trick is to identify the social media channels that work best together to promote and support your research community.
In two recent blog posts, Part 1 and Part 2, about how to build a research community, I provided tips on making the most of social media, highlighting why you should use a blog.
In this follow-up post, I suggest 3 more tips to grow your research community even further.
There are many different social media tools you can use to build a strong Social Web research presence, but if you used them all your workload would soon be overwhelming.
Better to carefully plan a strategy to optimise your presence on the Web.
Basically, creating your Social Media Strategy involves understanding 3 related concepts: interacting, sharing and collaboration.
With these 3 concepts in mind, the following Social Media channels should help you to grow and maintain your research community.
- Facebook - the monster of the Social Media world; take advantage of its might to promote your research community.
- Twitter - communicate and engage with your research peers in 100-140 characters, or less; showcase your blog content with tweetable quotes, and use collages to creatively promote your events.
- Instagram - promote your events using a visual social platform like Instagram; share photos of event promotion posters or other images to create buzz about your event. Be sure to share photos before, during and after events.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are powerful social media platforms you can use to increase your web presence and grow your research community.
Social networking sites have the potential to create a buzz around your online research community.
You could create and maintain a Facebook Group page (indexed in search engines) to connect with and engage with your existing members. Promoting your research community's culture on Facebook could help to attract new members.
Use this social networking site to build a cohesive profile to promote your research community - it’s all about branding and building trust and authority. So, if you have a logo or custom image, upload this to customise and promote your specific group identity.
Updates to your Facebook page could focus on information about your research community, news releases, broadcasting upcoming events, and links to your blog posts.
Members can post messages to you and you can send members invites to events.
Hashtags are clickable, so mark words or phrases with the # symbol to enable easy searching for getting found and reaching out to new members.
Generate buzz for events by creating hashtags within the description text for them.
Members of your research community can connect with you and each other via the News Feed, where entries are posted and items commented upon. These can be links, photos, videos, news events, etc.
If you’ve posted a photo to Instagram and set it to share across your social networks, for example, it will appear in the News Feed along with the caption you gave it on Instagram.
A Facebook page provides opportunities to interact with existing members and also attract new members to grow your research community.
It’s important to check what’s new on Facebook, as its functionality is frequently updated.
Microblogging is used to send short messages, often from smartphones. The most popular microblogging platform is Twitter.
Set up a Twitter account to promote your research community.
You can set up a Twitter account to identify your research community as a group rather than as an individual account. Describe your group in 160 characters and use a photo that identifies your group.
Use Twitter as a micro-blog to transmit and receive messages called ‘tweets’. You can include links to your blog posts, and use images and videos as well as text.
Twitter also provides opportunities to broadcast your events. Use hashtags to encourage members to tag photos taken at your events to increase your social media presence.
Twitter will be useful for interacting, sharing and collaborating with other members of your research community as well as other academics.
Whenever you post updates on other social networks, be sure to let people know by posting a tweet. This doesn’t have to create extra work, as you can automate this.
There are some exciting new features recently added to this social media tool, such as using collages, but we'll save discussing those to a future blog post.
Promote your research community events using a social platform like Instagram, which has millions of active users.
Exclusively a mobile app, it has been around since 2010. It’s simple to use, but expect changes as Facebook bought the app for big bucks.
The main purpose of Instagram is photo sharing but you can also record short videos.
Remember to add a photo caption to your pics.
It also makes sense to add category hashtags so that you can share via Twitter. The caption becomes the text of the tweet.
If you’ve enabled the location services on Instagram, you can even tag where you took your event photo.
Members will be more likely to attend your events if they like the visuals you create.
Integrating All Your Social Networks
It’s a good idea to streamline your research community’s social media presence. This will ensure that you maximise your social network presence across all channels. For example, you can integrate Twitter into any other social networking sites you have created for your research community, such as your Facebook account.
Your blog, images or videos can be fed into your research community’s Facebook account, as well as into Twitter.
How to Manage Your Social Networks
There are many online tools that can help you to manage all your social media accounts, including automating updates.
TweetDeck and HootSuite are currently the most popular social media activity tools. Both have dashboards, with everything in one place where you can organise your updates and monitor others that you follow.
One of my favourite social management tools is Buffer.
Use Buffer as a smart way to manage sharing to all your social media profiles and accounts, including all your posts and tweets.
Your social media strategy for growing your research community should:
- engage research community members in interactive conversations with you and each other
- motivate members to share information amongst each other
- motivate members to recommend your research community to others
- promote your research community’s group identity to maximise your web presence
Constant effort is needed to engage with your research community. But it’s also important to pay attention to the frequent changes made to the social networks you have chosen to use.
When any changes are made to the social networks that you use, you need to ask if it’s worth your effort to maintain that network in the face of recent changes.
Do you have any different favourite social media that you use? Share you favourites with us in the comments below.
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