Top tips for building science communities with social media

So a few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to give a talk at the Nature Careers Expo in London about how to use social media to  build scientific communities. As part of this, there was a short panel discussion afterwards with myself and Sarah Blackford from the Society for Experimental Biology, and Nature have made a few short videos of some of the responses available!

The first question is on how to get more attention for your blogging activities. Some of my top tips are:

  1. Tag your posts so that they are easily searchable.
  2. Share your posts on social media (Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter…).
  3. Ask for feedback by getting people to comment on your posts. This can stimulate conversations around the topics covered, which will increase engagement.
  4. Ask people to share your content in their own circles so that it reaches a broader audience.


The second of these was on how to avoid getting your work ‘scooped’ by sharing it on social media. In short, if your work can be scooped based on a tweet, your work is probably pretty crap. Nonetheless, it pays to be prudent with what you share – social media isn’t the right venue for everything, so think carefully about what you want your audience(s) to know.

The third part of this was an unusual, but I sense increasingly common aspect of social media use. I’ve been extremely fortunate in that by using social media and sharing my work in advance of ‘formal publication’, other researchers have requested that I work with them on similar research projects, ultimately leading to the publication of two papers (so far). Although anecdotal, it does highlight the enormous benefit of openly sharing your work in advance, especially as a junior researcher.

The final aspect was more for social media beginners, in how you know who to follow on Twitter.

This one is dead simple!

  1. Identify learned societies in your field and find out who they follow. These people will be high-profile scientists in that particular speciality.
  2. Tweet at conferences and you’ll quickly find that people follow you back, especially those who cannot attend.
  3. Curate your feeds into lists. For example, develop a list appropriate to science communication, or on microbiology. You can be as specific as you like
  4. If you don’t like what someone does/says on Twitter, you can unfollow them.

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