New to Social Media? Find Your Scholarly Network with These Tips

The cycle of new academics joining social media tends to be similar no matter your age or rank

People tell you to join Twitter for the conversation, or connect on Facebook. People say, you’re missing out.

Once you get there, what’s the best way to ensure you aren’t wasting your time?

I’m Jennifer. Welcome to The Social Academic, my blog about social media and websites in the Higher Education world. In this article,

Social media is a two-way street, so follow people you want to engage with


It’s important that you follow the right people on social media to have a curated feed.

It’s also important so that you actually want to engage with the people you follow.

You can take control of the types of content you are regularly exposed to. This is true for every platform.

Last week, Nick Corriveau-Lecavalier tweeted about connecting with scientists on Twitter.

I responded because, while the science community on Twitter is awesome, nothing compares to the engagement of science communicators on Instagram.

I’ve found myself fascinated by the long descriptions of School of Rock (@drrhcmadden) and Soph Talks Science (@Soph.Talks.Science). And I’m not alone.

Check out their profiles to see what a real engaged audience can look like.

Like many of you, Nick wanted to know, is there ever an end? The answer is no, not really. But that’s a good thing.

Know your options when it comes to your academic life and social media

signposts pointing different directions

Social media is so expansive, there are always new people to engage with.

New researchers and thinkers pop up each day. The better you are at communicating your work, the greater the potential reach.

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Join groups to network with academics on Facebook

Facebook for academics is all about groups. There are likely specific groups and pages for your field.

They are generally sponsored by scholarly groups and organizations, rather than institutions.

Most Facebook groups have a short questionnaire, in order to make sure you’re a good fit and agree to any terms and conditions. For instance, many groups have rules for what types of content can be posted.

Once you join a group, take a moment to introduce yourself.

Twitter is kind of like a cafe and a great place for faculty and researchers to connect

Lots of people come to the same place for short periods of time. Twitter is all about jumping into conversations (or threads).

When you first start looking for your network on Twitter, there are a few things to keep in mind.

I suggest starting with the top organization in your field. If they have a Twitter, head to their “Following” list and check out the profiles.

Write down any hashtags associated with your field.

Follow people you actually want to engage with.

If there are people you think you should keep track of but don’t want to see every day, try out Twitter lists.

When in doubt, ask! Twitter is full of people who want to help you make connections.

Learn more about Twitter for academics.

Instagram is my favorite for long-term engagement

Without an equivalent of a retweet, some people think Instagram makes it harder to build community.

But the reality is, engagement is higher on Instagram than anywhere else.

Instagram is a platform where if you post good content on a regular basis, an audience will come.

There is freedom in how much you can write per post.

While Instagram is an image-based platform, you don’t have to be a photographer. With stock image sites and Instagram filters, Instagram is a platform academics should take advantage of.

Learn more about Instagram for academics.

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More on social media for professors and researchers

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to social media. Check out this breakdown of social media platforms for academics and researchers. I didn’t mention it in this article, but LinkedIn is one of my favorite platforms for people like you.

Need help getting started? Let’s set up a 1:1 social media consultation.

Happy networking! Let me know how it goes.

Virtual. Self-paced. Choose your own adventure.

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Jennifer van Alstyne View All →

Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and communications consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help professors, researchers, and graduate students manage their online presence. Jennifer’s goal is to help people share their work with the world.

Check out her personal site at https://jennifervanalstyne
or learn more about the services she offers at