How to Select a Social Media Channel

As an academic, at some point you’ll need to take your research social. If you like pictures, use Instagram. If you like writing, use LinkedIn. If you like video, use YouTube and then share. If you want to connect with other academics, use Twitter. If you want to engage with the general public then Facebook or Instagram will be better. LinkedIn will be best for getting industry partners.

How did you come to choose the social media channels you are on?


Good day there, bakers, writers, and rock stars! Dr. Richard Huysmans here with another vlog. Today we’re focusing on how to select a social media channel. So, this is a bit of a step-by-step guide to that process.

So, step one is to consider whether you’ve got an account that you could already use. So, we’re talking about selecting a social media channel for use as a researcher to communicate your research activities to the wider world. So, if you already have an account that you could use then I think you should review it for its relevance to you and to how you want to access. So, for example you might already have a Facebook account, but you might not be willing to use that Facebook account for research. So, that’s not a good channel to use. You might have a Twitter account that you rarely use but you might be happy to share your research via Twitter so that’s a good selection.

If you don’t have an account that you could already use or even if you do, you might skip to the next step which is who do you want to engage. So, this is where you kind of have to do this iterative approach of thinking, “Who’s my audience?” “Where do they hang out?” “Do I want to hang out there?” “What are they interested in?” “Do I want to post that content?” “Does that content suit that channel?” Etc. So, it’s going to go round and round and round in a circle. So, if you want to engage with other academics, Twitter is a place that other academics hang out and interact with quite often. I would if you’ve got a Twitter account. If you join Twitter ages ago and it doesn’t work for you. It’s probably because you haven’t posted very often, and you haven’t engaged with your ideal or potential followers on Twitter. So, I would if you’re thinking I want to make more use of social media, I would jump on Twitter and make that your go-to platform for engaging other academics. It’ll be really useful to practice your scientific communication using Twitter as well. If you want to engage industry partners and non-academics, then I would hang out on LinkedIn and start making more posts on LinkedIn. Ideally make your posts relevant to your industry audience but at the very least, translate your academic speak into non-academic speak. So, make copy that someone who’s not from your research team could understand. If you want to engage the general public, particularly if you want to think about recruiting participants and I would be on Facebook or Instagram. That’s a really good place where lots of people hang out. If you reflect on your own social media use, you probably do have a Facebook account and an Instagram account. I acknowledge that you might not use it very much but certainly you don’t use it for posting. But you might use it for checking in on other things. So, that’s why I would encourage you as a researcher to create a Facebook account if you want to engage the general public. If you’re worried about mixing work-life and non-work life or research life and non-research life, create a second profile or a second account that is just focused on your research. Or if you’ve already started focusing on research and you want to do other things as well, create a second account that focuses on other things. But you don’t need to split it up. But if you’re conscious about mixing the two then I would split it up. So, there’s some channels that you could work. Use obviously. TikTok has grown in popularity. So, you might consider creating a TikTok account if you’re interested in posting things like video.

So, the next thing to think about is what kind of content you prefer. So, pretty much all channels now are interested in or do video. So, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok all day videos. If all you want to do is video, I think the best place to post that is on YouTube, and then cut it into shorter clips that might end up as Instagram stories, Facebook stories, TikTok shorts or sorry, Twitter shorts or TikTok videos. If you’re interested in just posting pretty pictures and with a little bit of text, I think Instagram is probably the best place to do that, but all platforms enjoy a good picture. TikTok obviously is video only, so you might need to convert your picture into a video, and maybe you talk over the top of your picture. That’s entirely up to you. If you’re wanting to just post written content, then LinkedIn will be the best place to do that. It has the best features for long-form posting, and audience who is most interested in reading longer form posts.

So, those are 3 things that you can do to choose a social media channel, and then ultimately, you want to get more active on that. If you want to get more active on your social media, hit me up, and I will provide you with some more advice on that.

Take care.