Using Social Media to promote your research: Twitter (beginner)

This is the first of a series of Social Media ‘Getting started’ guides. We will make the series available as a downloadable guide via our website once we have sufficient posts. Over the coming weeks we will look at how other Social Media platforms may be used for disseminating your research, including Kudos, blogs, ResearchGate &, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook.  

Getting started

The first step of using Social Media is to decide which platform is most appropriate for your needs. What if you don’t have a Twitter account and haven’t heard of Instagram – where should you start? How much time will you need to put into Social Media?

We will answer all of these questions and more over the next few weeks. First, we are going to introduce you to the world of Twitter.

A very popular microblogging site – Tweets are limited to 140 characters. Twitter is a fantastic way to network with peers, hear about news, find out about new articles, and engage in the conversation – whether at a conference or discussing a new and important paper.

Many colleagues use Twitter very regularly (often multiple times a day), which can work very well but is not necessary to promote your research effectively. See – Afroditi tweets only when she has something to say and will therefore sometimes have a month or so gap between Tweets. As an individual, it’s absolutely fine to just Tweet when a) you have a new paper (be sure to include the DOI, or a Kudos link – see below – so readers can easily click through to find out more);  b) you’re at a conference – be sure to include the conference hashtag (this starts with a # symbol and will usually be widely advertised); or c) to re-tweet posts from a colleague, a co-author, or your departmental account.

Note: As with all Social Media, always ensure your tweets adhere to any confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements. Try not to post anything in a fit of rage at a colleague or student (even if not named) – chances are your post will not be Retweeted hundreds of times before someone advises that you remove it (*cough, Donald Trump*) but be aware that once something is public it may not be possible to fully retract. Don’t post anything that you would not be happy being made public.

How to join

To create a Twitter account, go to Enter your display name and email address and choose a unique username (also known as ‘Twitter handle’) and password. Your handle can be whatever you want it to be up to a maximum of 30 characters as long as it’s not already taken, although it will be easier for other people to identify you if your username is based on your full/professional name (i.e., @SarahEJWoods or @SEWoods). If your name is relatively common, you may wish to try adding Dr or Prof in front. Shorter is better.  Think carefully whether you wish to include personal information such as your birth year.
Click ‘Create my account’. I advise skipping through the initial ‘Who to follow’ step, unless of course any take your fancy. You will then receive a confirmation email from Twitter – open the link in the email to complete the registration process.

Note: Official departmental accounts need to follow University branding naming guidelines.

Add a photo if you wish, by clicking on the ‘egg’ in the top right of the header bar, and then ‘edit profile’ – I recommend adding a headshot or the cover of your most recent book rather than keeping with the default Twitter ‘egg’.  It is also possible to personalise the header image but this does not need to be done straight away.

Consider privacy settings – you are able to lock down your posts to followers only (where you will approve each follow request), however Twitter will of course be a less powerful networking and dissemination tool if locked down in this way.

Who should I follow?

@UniKent.  As a reader of this blog, I would also recommend as a source of OSC musings.
Check out for links to School accounts, central departments and academic colleagues. Many funders, journals and professional bodies will also have Twitter accounts.

Look for co-authors and colleagues at other institutions by typing their name into the search box and selecting ‘People’ from the top bar. Hover over their name and click follow.  Another good way to find others in your field is to look up a recent conference hashtag – for a welcome week example, try searching for #HelloKent.  Once you are following a colleague you can also look through their followers for mutual connections, and the right hand side of your home page will show suggestions of who to follow. Try searching using the hashtag of a recent or upcoming conference you’re attending and follow names you recognise. Once you are following a few accounts, click on the homepage to see your ‘feed’.

Tip: If you are intending for your account to be for professional-purposes only try and keep it separate from following celebrities, Asda and your brother-in-law – you can have one integrated account, but be aware that conversations including you, or posts you have liked, may appear on the newsfeed of anyone that follows you. You are able to have two (or more) accounts but they must be linked to different email addresses.

So, what do I tweet about?

It’s often worth joining Twitter just before an event or conference as this will provide lots of material – perhaps take a photo of a key slide or speaker on your phone and add this to your Tweet along with a key point or new announcement. If uncertain what to write, you could start by using the Retweet option (two arrows following each other) to add someone else’s Tweet to your profile (find by using the tips above) – you can either Re-Tweet directly or add a comment above.  Alternatively, have you just had a new publication accepted/published?  Perhaps congratulate one of your PG students (preferably one on Twitter) that has just completed (in order to mention another user simply use the @ symbol and their Twitter name).

What next:  Over the next month we aim to add ‘next steps’ Twitter guides, including conference attendance and recruiting participants for research surveys via Twitter.

Related tool:

Kudos is a free tool which allows you to claim your publications and add a short title, a lay abstract, state why the research is important – and add an additional author perspectives. You can then easily share the Kudos link and use their tracking service to see how effective your Social Media activity has been. Watch this space for further advice on using Kudos to boost your readership.