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Overall, social media is a powerful venue for communicating your research. You can reach colleagues directly in your discipline, colleagues in associated disciplines, and even enthusiasts, activists, and other audiences among the public at large. Here we explain the various social media tools – both traditional and academic – that can help you promote and build the impact of your work. 

Amplifying your reach on social media

There’s one important rule to keep in mind when expanding your audience on any social media outlet: You should always connect with users outside your circle of followers. You can generally amplify your message through tagging other accounts (if the platform allows you to tag non-followers) or by hashtagging.

‘Tagging’ other accounts

Tags, also called mentions, let researchers engage any colleagues, university departments, or other entities with social media profiles. When you tag another social account in your posts and comments, it notifies those account users. Oftentimes, this means that the post or comment shows up in that tagged account. 

Users of these tagged accounts may then decide to share it within their own circle of social media followers. Learn more about tagging through this comprehensive guide.

Hashtags, denoted by the pound (‘#’) symbol, help you reach audiences with specific interests. Users across social media use hashtags to find information on a specific theme or topic. 

Hashtags for the preprint titled “Additive influence of extreme events and local stressors on coral diversity in the Mesoamerican Reef during the last decade” could include:

These hashtags can – and should – be very specific. You can find the best hashtags related to your research using this helpful hashtag finder tool.  

Keep in mind that the more general or popular hashtags will quickly get buried in the hashtag feed. It’s often best to use a combination of popular and topic-specific hashtags. Learn more about effectively using hashtags here.

Academic social media tools

Academic social media channels are extremely beneficial when reaching out to other researchers, either directly or indirectly in your field. Sharing preprints on these social platforms can yield feedback that can improve your manuscript before publication. Even if the preprint is the final destination for your research, these social networking sites are ideal for sharing your work.

Academia.edu

This site is among the largest of the academic social networks, with more than 183 million registered users. It allows users to create a profile, share papers, connect with other scholars in their field, and follow the work of others. When sharing your research, you can track its impact in terms of views and downloads.  You may or may not have legal permission to share your work. Please read your publication contract and terms!

More than 20 million users are registered with ResearchGate. ResearchGate allows users to “share their research, collaborate with their peers, and get the support they need to advance their careers.” The platform helps users stay up to date with what’s happening in their fields, providing access to over 135 million publication pages at the time of this writing. It also lets users get in-depth stats on who’s reading and following your work. It also helps researchers keep track of their citations.

Researcher 

This app-based platform with more than 2.3 million users keeps researchers up-to-date by bringing select scholarly articles of interest. Researcher ‘simplifies discovery’ by tapping more than 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and live events across 10 research areas:

This Elsevier subsidiary boasts more than 6 million users. Researchers use Mendeley to manage papers and citations, but it is technically a scholar-focused social network for researchers. It allows users to create a research profile featuring the user’s affiliation and publications, as well as join public or private groups for networking.

Traditional social media tools

Researchers can use traditional social media outlets to publicize and share their work with a broader range of audiences, which can include academics, professionals, interest groups, friends, and the media. The following channels are more commonly used.

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform ideal for engaging colleagues in and around your field. Through LinkedIn, you can share your latest preprints, as well as promote upcoming talks or promote your research deliverables. 

LinkedIn offers a wealth of professional information about its members, which makes it easy to target the groups you are trying to reach. You can join discussion forums for topics related to your research with people of similar interests. Finally, you can network with other researchers or broader professional audiences which might use your work. 

Twitter

Twitter has traditionally been an excellent platform for sharing research and ideas, as well as building some conversation and community connection around your research topic. Each post, or “Tweet” is short at just 280 characters maximum, but you can also share images, videos, and 

and links associated with your preprint. 

Facebook is more oriented toward friends and family than other social media outlets. Researchers who have built up a relatively large and close personal network have found Facebook to be a highly effective tool for engagements, such as ‘likes,’ ‘shares’ and ‘comments.’ 

Facebook can also be good for simply reaching large audiences, especially when joining Facebook’s many science and technology groups. Many in these groups include other researchers, research enthusiasts, and other individuals who would find interest in your preprint. When you share your research with these groups, anyone in the group has the potential to see it.

With the advent of high quality smartphones, video is more accessible than ever to promote your research. You can use video to introduce and summarize your research. In some disciplines, like ecology or entomology, video can be used to document changes in nature or illustrate the behavior of animals. 

However you use video, YouTube is among the best social platforms for sharing it. Just make sure to thoroughly describe each video and its significance to your research in text as you upload your video. YouTube is actually the world’s second most popular search engine, but it still relies on text to discover your content.

Research Square offers a range of video production services to help promote your research, including video bytes, video abstracts, and custom videos.  Learn more about them here.

Final thoughts

Research Square, offers a variety of research promotion services to help you make an impact with the research community and beyond. Learn more about our research promotion services here.