When I decided to interview grad students and faculty for my blog, I was nervous. I didn’t know how well it would go.
And, I was dedicating a lot of my time to sharing these interviews: booking, the interview itself, transcribing, creating the post, doing backend stuff like SEO. Then there’s the graphic design, social media posts. The newsletter.
It’s important to me to help the academic world see the benefits of social media. I want to introduce you to awesome people who use social media in different ways. And I want you to know a few things:
There isn’t a right way to use social media.
There are practices we can do to make it easier, and more effective.
There are also things we can do to make social media more enjoyable.
Welcome to The Social Academic, my blog about online identity in the HigherEd world. I’m Jennifer van Alstyne.
This blog post is about the awesome people I featured so far on The Social Academic.
Meet my Spring 2019 interview guests: Leigh A. Hall, Greg Loring-Albright, Jazmine Benjamin, Echo Rivera, Daisy Shu, and Jessica Doble.
Leigh A. Hall
When Dr. Leigh A. Hall reached out to me on Twitter about appearing on The Social Academic, I was excited.
She was doing some great videos on YouTube and creating resources for Teaching Academia.
Dr. Leigh A. Hall holds the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair in Literacy Education at the University of Wyoming.
Her research centers on helping adolescents improve their academic reading and writing abilities.
“…I feel like I have this very dual life. I have this very traditional academic kind of life, because I’m always teaching, and doing research, and getting grants, and writing articles.
But I feel like you know, as technology has developed, and as social media has developed, that it’s really…I don’t want to say my responsibility. But I really think it’s our responsibility collectively as academics to be engaged on social media.
I mean there’s any number of things that we can share. I don’t really think there’s any one right thing to share.”Leigh A. Hall
It’s important to me to feature graduate students and faculty. First up, was Greg Loring-Albright, who is all about games.
Greg Loring-Albright is a PhD student in Communications, Culture and Media at Drexel University. He’s balancing grad school and game design.
Greg’s research focuses on board games as mediated communication, and games and play in tabletop and urban spaces (i.e. LARP, scavenger hunt, room escape). He even designed a cool card game about Moby Dick called Leviathan.
“Find a gateway person. I’m sure you have a better way to think about this because you think about these things all the time, but the notion of the sort of node of the network.
When I was getting connected with game scholars and game designers on Twitter, it seemed like there were a couple people who sort of just kept coming up. So I friended those people, and then I looked at who they talked to and I friended those people.
I just snowball-sampled, to use a term from my discipline, into oh, now I’m in the conversation.
Now I’m somehow, sort of by the exposure of these people. Like, nobody told me oh, this is an important person to follow.”Greg Loring-Albright
Alternate Academics are so important. Especially when they help out the academic community. That’s why I was so excited to share my interview with Echo Rivera.
Dr. Echo Rivera can help you have amazing presentations. As owner of Creative Research Communications LLC, she helps academics and scientists communicate with beautiful presentations, reports, and visualizations.
Echo is all about sharing research and data in ways that make an impact.
So what I do is I help academics and scientists, and people like that, basically communicate their work more effectively, and creatively.
Right now I’m focusing a lot on helping people create amazing slide presentations or beautiful reports, infographics, things like that.
It also includes fun stuff like research comics, illustrations, things like that because…
Basically I just want to help everybody not have their hard work go to waste.
And use every tool at their disposal to get heard and make the kind of impact they want to make so nothing just sort of gets lost in the void.
Check out my guest post on Echo’s website about how a website can be awesome for people presenting at conferences.
Jazmine Benjamin shared how networking on Twitter has helped in our interview. She talks about how she uses social media platforms differently. Instagram is split between work and family. “Twitter is more work.” Facebook, more family.
But, Jazmine says she thinks Twitter is her favorite. Though, it’s a close tie with Instagram.
Jazmine Benjamin is 2nd year PhD student at University of Alabama Birmingham in Cellular and Molecular Biology. She works in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Sztul, which focuses on “protein degradation and membrane trafficking in the context of the secretory pathway.”
I asked Jazmine what advice she had for someone just joining Twitter.
And be patient.
When you join, I think it gives you the opportunity to ‘check’ the things that you’re interested in. But just kind of take some time to explore and click on headlines that interest you.
Kind of follow through threads that look interesting. And just follow people.
I have probably 3x more people that I follow than I do followers.
I’m not someone who gets really wrapped up in how many followers I have.
But the people who I do follow that follow me back, we often at some point end up interacting with each other.
That has led to some really valuable relationships.
I met Daisy Shu during my webinar for the Association of Research in Vision + Opthalmology (ARVO) Science Communication Training Fellowship program. I was talking about how to use Instagram to share your research.
I asked Daisy to appear on The Social Academic, because she’s awesome at social media storytelling. I’m so glad I did, because she had some great advice for you.
Dr. Daisy Shu is a postdoc at Harvard’s Scepens Eye Research Institute. She studies the role of metabolism and mitochondria in retinal eye disease. And, she’s passionate about science communication.
While we talk about Daisy’s social media journey from first hearing Hugh Kearns speak, to a social media event run by Franklin Women. Daisy’s been inspired by professional development, and her friends.
I would have to say that create an account now. Like as soon as possible. Then you can get the name you really want. It’s all about not delaying it.
Sometimes I feel like it’s really easy to just sit on it and think I’m going to plan it out thoughtfully, and carefully, and create the personal Instagram feed that encapsulates myself.
But the more you sit on it…and I felt like I did that with my Twitter when I actually started it. I didn’t really engage and post things until 2017.
So I felt like the thing is just to start. And through starting you’ll develop your own sort of feed organically. And you’ll meet other people and they’ll inspire different sorts of posts. And it’s only through actually doing it that you can learn exactly what social media is all about.Daisy Shu
Jessica Doble uses social media as a PhD student, and as an editor. A friend of mine in real life, I wanted to share Jessica with you because her research is all about fandom and online communities.
Jessica Doble is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She focuses on digital media and the reception of popular texts in the context of community.
She uses social media personally. She also uses social media as Arts Editor of the literary journal, We Were So Small. And, she manages the Facebook page and Twitter for Louisiana Folklore Studies.
I asked Jessica her favorite social media platform, and why.
I like Instagram because it doesn’t feel so much like posting into the void.
I still kind of struggle with the way Tumblr functions, I think.
And so Instagram seems much more user friendly, and straightforward.
I like the way Instagram lets you follow hashtags.
And you can kind of expand your community in cool and productive ways.
Subscribe to the blog
Are you interested in appearing as a guest on The Social Academic?
I’ll have a call out later this summer for Fall guests.
Don’t want to miss it?
Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and public relations consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help academics, researchers, and writers control their online presence and share their work with the world.
She holds a B.A. from Monmouth University in English, and an M.F.A. from Naropa University in Writing & Poetics where she was the Jack Kerouac Fellow. Jennifer also holds an M.A. from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Literature and Cultural Studies where she was one of four master’s fellows and a finalist for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award.