Faculty Development Session: Lose Your Fear of Academic Twitter

On November 10, 2020, The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement hosted Lose Your Fear of Academic Twitter, a panel discussion about how faculty can use the platform to share their work and build their professional networks.  

Twitter is a powerful platform that scholars can leverage to network, to share their work, and to find possible collaborators. During this period of physical distancing and virtual work, our online presence takes on a greater significance. How can faculty cut through the digital noise and establish an authoritative online presence? Our panel of faculty Twitter pro users discuss the use of the platform to promote research, creative, and scholarly work, to stay engaged with academic communities, and to educate others.

Our panel consisted of Shamus Khan, Professor of Sociology, Suzanne Lentzsch, Professor of Medicine, and Michelle Young, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Acacia O'Connor, Director of Social Media, led the discussion, and Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement Dennis Mitchell gave opening remarks.

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    Sharing Content:

    • Keep the mood mostly positive. People really respond well to authenticity but also positivity and celebration. 
    • Share links to what you read online. If you’ve found an article interesting or useful, send a link. If you have something to add or highlight, add some short comments.
    • Share what you read offline. Much online conversation is driven by what people can share online, but academics still read a lot offline as well. One thing we can add to public conversation, therefore, comes from our engagement with those sources. Take a picture or a screen grab of a journal article or book you’re reading if it makes a contribution.
    • Work out ideas in progress. Once you are connected to colleagues and others, you can share syllabi, early versions of writing and so on.
    • Share what you write. Some academics want to join Twitter to give their writing more reach. That will really only work if you actually engage with Twitter for purposes other than self-promotion. But by all means, if you do publish something, let people know and be available to talk about it.
    • Most important, try to add value to the public conversation.

    Building your Audience:

    • Share other people’s work. Tag them when you do it. If it appeared in a magazine, tag the institutional account of the magazine it appeared in, and they’ll probably retweet it, too.
    • Share your own work. If people like what they read from you, that’s the most likely reason they’ll follow you.
    • Talk with people. If they learn from the conversation, they may follow you.
    • Use meaningful hashtags
    • Follow plenty of other accounts. Don’t only follow people who follow you. If someone does follow you or interacts with you often, consider following them, too.
    • Share your profile - add it to your email signature.