Resourse list for academics new to social media

(This didn't happen)

"You will make sure that your research methodology links with your research questions, you snivelling little maggot!"

This week I was asked to be involved in a Research Grant application ‘bootcamp’ to talk in particular about the use of social media in pathways to impact plans, and academic blogging in general.  I was quick to disclaim expertise in this area – I’ve been blogging for a while now, but I’m not an academic and I’m certainly not an expert on social media.  I’m also not sure about this use of the word ‘bootcamp’.  We already have ‘workshop’ and ‘surgery’ as workplace-based metaphors for types of activity, and I’m not sure we’re ready for ‘bootcamp’.  So unless the event turns out to involve buzzcuts, a ten mile run, and an assault course, I’ll be asking for my money back.

But I thought I’d try to put together a list of resources and examples that I was already aware of in time for the session, and I then I wondered about ‘crowdsourcing’ (i.e. lazily ask my readers/twitter followers) some others that I might have missed.  Hopefully we’ll then end up with a general list of resources that everyone can use.  I’ve pasted some links below, along with a few observations of my own.  Please do chip in with your thoughts, experiences, tips, and recommendations for resources.


Things I have learnt about using social media


  • You must have a clear idea about your intended audience and what you hope to achieve.  Blogging for the sake of it or because it’s flavour of the month or because you think it is expected is unlikely to be sustainable or to achieve the desired results.
  • A good way to start is to search for people doing a similar thing and contact them asking if you can link to their blog.  Everyone likes being linked to, and this is a good way to start conversations.  Once established, support others in the same way.
  • You have to build something of a track record of posts and tweets to be credible as a consistent source of quality content – you’ve got to earn a following, and this takes time, work, and patience.  And even then, might not work.  Consider a ‘soft launch’ to build your track record, and then a second wave of more intensive effort to get noticed.
  • Posting quality comments on other people’s blogs, either in their comments section, or in a post on your blog, can be a good way to attract attention.
  • Illustrate blog posts with a picture (perhaps found through google images) – a lot of successful bloggers seem to do this.
  • Multi-author blogs and/or guest posts are a good way to share the load.
  • And consequently, offering guest posts or content to established blogs is a way to get noticed.
  • The underlying technology is now very straightforward.  Anyone who is reasonably computer literate will have little trouble learning the technical skills.  The editing frame where I’m writing this in looks a lot like Word, and I’ve used precisely no programming/HTML stuff – that can all be automated now.


  • The technology of @s and # is fairly straightforward to pick up – find some relevant/interesting people to follow and you’ll soon pick it up, or read one of the guides below.
  • A good way to reach people is to get “retweets” – essentially when someone else with a bigger following forwards your message.  You do this by addressing posts to them using the @ symbol
  • Generally the pattern of retweets seems to be when people find something interesting and it suits their message.  So… the ESRC retweeted my blog post linking to their regional visit presentation when my blog post said nice things about the visit and linked to their presentation
  • Weird mix of personal and professional.  Some twitter accounts are uniquely professional, others uniquely personal, but many seem a mixture.  Some of the usual barriers seem not to apply, or apply only loosely.  Care needs to be taken here.


  • Social media is potentially a huge time sink – keep in mind costs in time versus benefits gained
  • It can be a struggle if you’re naturally shy and attention seeking doesn’t come easily to you

Resources and further reading:

Examples of individual UoN blogs:

Patter – Pat Thomson, School of Education
Political Apparitions – Steven Fielding, School of Politics
Registrarism – Paul Greatrix, University Registrar
Cash for Questions, Adam Golberg, NUBS

UoN Group/institutional/project blogs:

Bullets and Ballots – UoN School of Politics:
China Policy Institute
Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility

UoN blogs home


Twitter Guide – LSE Impact in Social Sciences

6 tips on blogging about research (Sarah Stewart (EdD Student, Otago University, NZ)

Blogging about your research – first steps  (University of Warwick)

Is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it? (Melissa Terras, UCL)

A gentle introduction to twitter for the apprehensive academic, (Dorothy Bishop, University of Oxford)

Twitter accounts:

List of official University of Nottingham Twitter accounts!/UniofNottingham/uontwitteraccounts

Lists of academic twitter accounts (Curator: LSE Impact project team)!/LSEImpactBlog/soc-sci-academic-tweeters!/LSEImpactBlog/business-tweeters!/LSEImpactBlog/arts-academic-tweeters!/LSEImpactBlog/think-tanks


Some of the links and choices of examples, are more than a little University of Nottingham-centric, but then this was an internal event.  I’ve not checked with the authors of the various resources I’ve linked to, and taken the liberty of assuming that they won’t mind the link and recognition.  But happy to remove any on request.

Any resources I’ve missed?  Any more thoughts and suggestions?  Please comment below….

This entry was posted in Post-Award, Research Impact, Social Media, University culture. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Resourse list for academics new to social media

  1. Great post, Adam, as always.

    ** Blogs **
    Reading other people’s blogs is a great way to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t work. It is also a great way to find excellent material that you would like to share with your followers.

    And you can’t really expect people to read your blog if you don’t read theirs.

    ** Twitter **
    Don’t post anything that you haven’t read and liked. You are curating material for your followers, not acting as an Poste Restante service for the world.

    ** Facebook **
    Linking your blog with Twitter and Facebook (or forming an unholy union as Barry Peddycord recently referred to it) will allow you to publicise your posts to a wider audience. In the same post, Barry goes on to say,

    Each time I publish a new blog entry, about six people visit from [Facebook], while two visit from Twitter. Since none of my [Wordpress].com followers are following me on either [Facebook] or Twitter, they visit my blog via whatever tool they use on WordPress, meaning I get a total of about 15 to 20 visits to my blog when a new post is posted.

    • Adam says:

      Thanks Jonathan – great tips.

      I think your point about being selective about what to post on Twitter is a really good one. I think there’s a temptation to use the ‘retweet’ button on Twitter as the same way as the ‘like’ button on Facebook, but I think that can be a mistake unless the tweet adds to the quality of your timeline and is likely to be of interest to your followers.

      Good point about Facebook too. I only mentioned my blog for the first time very recently on Facebook, mainly because I use it for personal rather than professional purposes. But then, I do have a good number of academics who are friends as well as former colleagues or who were undergraduate contemporaries, and it would be odd not to let them know about the blog.

      I’d also like to use Jonathan’s post as a handy illustration of the point I made above about commenting on other blogs. Regular readers will know who Jonathan is, but I bet those don’t are curious, and will be clicking on the name link to find out more. And I thoroughly recommend doing so, as the ‘Research Whisperer’ blog is excellent…..

  2. Phil Ward says:

    Excellent advice from both Adam and Jonathan. I’d also add, as my lone bit of blogging advice, to regularly update and post. I’ve seen so many blogs where there’s a flurry of posts in the first week of the blog being established, and then nothing but tumbleweed for months after. If you post regularly, then people are more likely to return regularly. Which reminds me, it’s about time I posted again…

  3. Tseen says:

    Good list, Adam.

    Couple of other things I thought might be useful to include:

    ==> I’ve found that having a basic table of past and forthcoming posts is very useful when planning content and trying to consolidate what it is your blog is trying to do. It helps avoid what Phil talks about above (the Tumbleweed Model of blogging…). For my personal blog especially, where I tend to be overly eclectic, having ‘themed’ threads through it keeps me on track and provides inspiration for posts (e.g. I cycle through writing reviews, focusing on an issue, promoting an event/project/blog, providing updates about my fiction writing…).
    ==> Another way to enter online discussions and debate about certain topics is to respond to blogposts with one of your own. Particularly if it’s a nice engagement with the original post (you don’t have to agree, but it always works in your favour to be considered and constructive), it signals that you’re someone who’s willing to spend time talking about this field.

    ==> This might be a form of what you mean by establishing value/quality and earning a following: I found the description of ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ tweets (e.g. David Silver’s post on this from 2009) very helpful in establishing valuable and ‘networky’ tweeting habits.

  4. Adam says:

    Thanks for your input, Tseen and Phil. I tend to jot down notes for ideas for posts, but often events seem to provide my best inspiration. Readers of our respective blogs will have noticed that Phil posts more often than I do and that Research Whisperer has a tighter schedule, but I think we all have a fairly consistent pattern of posting over time, and that’s important. I put my first two month splurge partly to over-ambition, and partly to trying to build a quick track record.

    Responding to blog posts with another blog post is also a good idea, especially if it’s more than can be said in a comment. Which is often the case.

    Hopefully this is the right link for David Silver on thick and thin tweets.

    Another resource worth a mention is ‘Blogging Tips Daily’, which automatically aggregates content on blogging from a variety of sources. Not all will be relevant for academic blogging, but well worth a look to see what it has picked up.

  5. Adam says:

    And another collection of resources for academics about using Twitter, put together by Mark Carrigan, a researcher at the University of Warwick.

  6. Adam says:

    Nice first hand account from an academic of using Twitter to find research funding opportunities and some suggestions for who to follow from Dr Sara Walker on the Northumbria University research blog.

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