Congratulations, you’ve published your paper! As focus on science communication (scicomm) continues to rise in the academic community, social media is a natural fit for promoting work to the media, public, or policy makers. It also provides a space for open, two-way dialogue. The below list of tips will give you a great jumpstart in learning to utilize social media to engage the public in your research.
1. Using social media to promote your work can start well before your paper publishes. Select one or two social networking sites, and dig in. SAGE has developed guidelines that can help you determine which sites to use and how to utilize each to their full potential. No matter which network fits your personality and intended audience, commit to posting frequently about research and news in your field of study, and join existing conversations. Then, once your paper is published, you’ll have an audience ready to hear about your latest research.
2. Keep going! Building a substantial social media following is a long slog. At first, it may seem as if you’re only reaching fellow scientists. According to a recent study in Facets, once a scientist reaches about 1,000 followers on Twitter, he/she will increasingly reach the public, media, applied organizations, and outreach groups. And, after the 2,200 follower threshold, decision makers.
3. Write in clear, straightforward language. Technical details are important in your research paper, but when communicating with the public you want to present one or two key findings in easy-to-understand terms. Frame it in a way that explains why they should care instead of what you wrote about. Consider linking to your lay summary on Kudos, or directly to the article on SAGE Journals or an archive version.
4. Enhance discoverability by carefully selecting hashtags on Facebook or Twitter, or adding to existing discussion in groups on LinkedIn. If on Twitter, mention the co-authors, your university, the journal, society, or relevant SAGE Publishing handles, and your post will likely get retweeted.
5. Engage, engage, engage! Respond to comments, answer questions, and thank those who create posts referring to your paper. Additionally, it can also be very beneficial to engage with accounts who don’t already follow you in order to spread awareness of your social media presence. These are the types of activities that will spur conversations about your research. Plus, it will increase the article’s Altmetric score!
Using these tips, you can achieve your goals for public awareness of your article. Whether you aim to communicate an important message with the public, pick up media interest, or get your findings in the hands of decision makers, social media can be a great tool to spur interest in your research or engage with those who are already talking about it.
Kelly Heida is an Executive Marketing Manager at SAGE Publishing and works to develop and drive strategy in social media and digital advertising.