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Engagement resources

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Using Social Media to Communicate Your Science

  1. Don’t use acronyms, technical jargon, or Oxford speak (e.g. “Hilary Term”). Instead, write your posts in plain English and always check your spelling.
  2. Follow your peers (e.g. internal and external to your department/division/university, patient groups, journalists, news feeds, policy makers etc.) and check what they are doing. You can manage these by creating lists in Twitter for example.
  3. Shorten web-links using bitly (or similar). This keeps posts easy to read and will allow you to analyse how many people click your links. Always check your links work before posting.
  4. Make posts interesting and engaging by asking questions, surveying opinions, including images/video/blog posts (not just text). Surprise your audience or make them laugh. Give them something they will want to share or talk about. And remember that social media is social. Interact, don't just broadcast!
  5. Be prepared to post content frequently. For Facebook it is acceptable to post at least every few days, but for Twitter you should aim to post at least daily. It is better not to start an account, than to have an inactive account. However, avoid over-posting. You can use the 'schedule' feature in social media dashboards, e.g. TweetDeck and HootSuite, to make it easier to manage your posts.
  6. People use various types of social media at different times, so if you do repeat a tweet, do it at a different time of day. E.g. if you posted a tweet for morning commuters, try posting it at lunchtime or evening a day or two later.
  7. Consider setting up new ‘professional’ accounts rather than using existing personal ones.
  8. On Twitter, use hashtags (e.g. #OxfordSparks), to involve yourself in conversation threads. Avoid using more than one or two hashtags in any post. If your content is relevant to a particular group, target specific posts to those groups. E.g., a podcast of heart disease could be posted to the British Heart Foundation by mentioning them in a post. Acknowledge funders, sponsors, collaborators etc. (e.g. on Twitter: @NERCscience).
  9. Share interesting content and add your own comments by using the 'quote' feature when retweeting posts. 
  10. Different groups use different platforms, so investigate different types of social media - bloggingimage sharing, etc., to see where those you want to engage with are active. Remember it is only one means of communication. Don’t rely on your social media presence alone to get the word out, but use it as part of a suite of communication tools (e.g. website, newsletters, etc.).
  11. Don’t be scared to post your thoughts, feelings and opinions, but just remember that what you post is public so don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in public.

Further resources:

29 top tips for using and managing effective social media channels (and why lists with odd numbers attracts more engagement)


Image Credit: Jason Howie