Most people have some form of digital footprint these days; it’s an occupational hazard in almost all lines of work. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked to connect via LinkedIn, and looking after the @ThinkAheadSheff twitter handle means I’m always on the lookout for people/organisations to follow.
Having an online presence as a researcher is a great means of raising your profile; it facilitates global networks and can generate new collaborative partnerships. An online profile can assist you in promoting your research and reaching a wider audience – with specific social networking sites such as ResearchGate there are a whole host of opportunities open to you.
Your digital profile is now often the first thing that someone encounters about you – it’s your brand and it should be carefully cultivated. If you have a personal account on any social media platform and you also used for work purposes, you might want to think about what image you’re portraying with your posts.
I was recently in contact with a researcher who had their twitter handle in their email signature. Being curious, I checked out their profile to see what they were working on. Their bio listed their employer and area of research, but all the tweets I could find were complaints to various retailers and service providers and it left me feeling a little disappointed. There were no retweeted posts or articles relating to their research field, let alone anything sharing their specific research interests. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using twitter to expedite complaints processes – after a colleague experienced faulty teabags which exploded on contact with water, a quick tweet resulted in replacement teabags and all the ginger tea she could consume. But posts like that should be the exception rather than the rule.
If you advertise your social media platform of choice within a work context it’s reasonable for a person engaging with it to expect some work related content. Equally you want your audience to connect with you as a person; striking that balance between work-related posts and other interest posts can be difficult, but it can be achieved.
At Sheffield there are a number of resources available to support you with your online profile. Here are just a few:
- Improve your digital footprint
- Social media intro
- Public engagement masterclasses – covering a range of topics including; working with the media and social media, blogging for different audiences.
There is also a #vitaehangout tomorrow (Tuesday 20th June 2017) on the topic of navigating your digital profile. It promises to cover a range of topics from creating your own digital identity, to effectively using online platforms to promote your research.