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6 Twitter tips for busy academics (based on my own strategy)

Many fellow academics, when they meet me in real life, ask me if I really tweet every single minute of the day (if you follow me on Twitter, you probably have seen me tweet a lot). The reality is… I don’t. I actually tweet a lot less than you think I do. Here’s what I actually do.

Because I’m the creator and weekly shepherd of #ScholarSunday, a lot of people (I believe) follow me for content that they find interesting, in their own disciplines. Since I follow broadly (in political science, public policy, public administration, human geography mainly, but also in anthropology, sociology, engineering) and I read broadly as well, many a time people will see tweets that are NOT in their own discipline or interest area. I’ve come to accept that this is ok. So, I divide my tweets in two sets: content tweets (e.g. stuff that I write about that I think my readers may be interested in) and retweets.

1. I schedule content tweets.

I use a tool called Buffer to schedule tweets (you can also use HootSuite). I usually do this for #ScholarSunday simply because I can’t (and I don’t want to!) be glued to the internet all day long. I also schedule tweets promoting my own blog posts, and #GetYourManuscriptOut.

2. I prioritize @ replies (mentions) and try to respond to all of these.

Because I started using Twitter as a conversational tool, I answer back to everyone (or almost everyone) who tweets me. Given the number of people who follow me often times I miss tweets (which I hope people won’t think is a snub). But I try to make it a priority to respond first and foremost. Conversation is what I find more interesting on Twitter.

3. My second priority is to RT content

Given that I often act as a distributional node (if you’re into network theory, I’m at the center of a pretty large academic social network), I am often asked to retweet stuff for a broader audience, or I find stuff (job opportunities, fellowship opportunities) that I think will benefit my followers. So, that takes the second priority. First, I converse. Second, I retweet.

4. I tweet during “dead times”.

If you see tweets that don’t come from Buffer, it’s likely I’m waiting for the bus, I’m on the bus, I’m waiting in between meetings… I use times that I normally would be doing nothing to tweet/retweet.

5. I accept that I won’t see everything on Twitter, so I delve every so often and without regret.

Given that I’m not often at my desk, I simply open Twitter to see if there’s something interesting. I’ll tweet during a limited period of time, and then I’ll go back to whatever I’m doing.

6. When I am overwhelmed, I go back to my Twitter lists.

If I feel that there’s too much content I simply check my Twitter lists. This allows me to only focus on those people who I have included in those lists. You can create lists particularly to focus on specific scholars/topics.

Hopefully my readers will benefit from these tips!

Posted in academia, social media for teaching.

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