Many researchers are now using Twitter, the free social networking service, to connect with like-minded academics and to spread the word about their own research. Taylor & Francis has produced a popular guide on how to "Tweet your research" which outlines the way that researchers can use Twitter to increase research impact, both before and after publication.
Twitter is also becoming an increasingly valuable tool for building brand awareness and product engagement. Many journals editors, working in conjunction with their publisher, are embracing Twitter in order to reach a digital audience and promote their journal(s) more widely. A well-managed journal Twitter account, as part of a wider marketing strategy, can help build and maintain the brand and reputation of journals and enable editors to connect with authors and readers on a personal level, enhancing key relationships.
It is worth remembering that along with the benefits of social media come the challenges and cautions. Any tweet posted (including replies) is immediately and publicly viewable. For this reason, it’s important to remain professional and polite in your tweets. A good rule is – if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on Twitter!
To help support our editors who are already using Twitter to promote the journals they work on (and those who are keen to give it a try), we have put together some guidelines and tips.
- Include links to relevant journal articles or news in your tweets.
- Try using a social media dashboard (e.g., Hootsuite) which allows links to be shortened, clickthroughs to be tracked, and shows you where you’ve been mentioned.
- Copy in other Twitter handles (e.g., @JohnSmith) where possible, as this will let the person know you are referencing them and potentially increase the reach of the post.
- Include some personality in your tweets!
- Engage with your followers and contribute to interesting (and relevant) conversations about your journal(s) or subject area.
- Use hashtags to engage with key topics as appropriate, e.g., #PeerReview, #ResearchImpact (remember only letters and numbers work, no special characters or punctuation and stick to a maximum of 3).
- Retweet other posts which you think are relevant to your followers. Ideally you should add some commentary before a retweet as this will give your post “added value” and initiate/extend conversation: Auto-RT if you have nothing to add; manual RT to comment/clarify/add context; MT (Modified Tweet) to edit the original tweet for space/clarity.
- Remember that @Replies and tweets starting with @User can only be seen by people who follow both you and the person you reply to. Adding some text or a full stop before the Twitter handle will allow everyone who follows you to see the reply, providing a wider audience.
- Ask questions to spark debates or conversations. Where appropriate, reference the article or event that inspired your question.
- TOP TIP! If you're hoping a post gets retweeted, don’t use up the full 140 characters, so people can add a comment when they RT you (120 is the new 140!).
- Forget to proof-read your tweet before you post it to make sure there are no errors (e.g. correct Twitter @handles and typos). If you do make an error you can delete the tweet and redo.
- Make your tweets too long – be clear, concise, and leave room for people to retweet and comment.
- Engage in lengthy debates.
- Overdo it - hashtags, retweets, and links are all great tools but shouldn’t dominate your posts. Concentrate on adding new valuable content and replying to relevant people.
- Post a generic “Thanks!” or “Thanks for the RT/Follow.”
Tips on thanking people for Retweets and Follows
You don’t need to thank everyone for simply following or retweeting you; however, you may want to show gratitude for certain interactions from certain significant people. Some suggestions include:
- Follow back (when appropriate).
- Reciprocate – view the user’s timeline and retweet one of their posts.
- Converse – Tweet the person or people who RT’d you to continue the conversation and draw further opinions.
- Direct Message – send a personal message with a note of thanks.
- RT the RT – if the user has added insight or intelligent comment to your post, retweet it.
- Group Mention – Mention all the users that RT’d your post and include a comment.
Tweeting from conferences and other events is about giving a flavor of the day, so don’t be afraid to let your voice come through in the tweets – people are much more likely to engage in it if this happens. If you put #TandFEditors into Twitter you can see examples of live tweeting at our Round Tables and workshops for editors.
Using Twitter: a basic guide
The Home tab
The Home tab on the top left shows you the “news feed,” that is, all the tweets that have been posted by your followers and those who have followed you. On the right you will be able to see how long ago the user posted the tweet, with the most recent tweets appearing at the top.
When you hover over a tweet in the news feed, a menu will pop up which allows you to reply, retweet, or favorite that particular post.
Trends can be viewed on the left – these are the topics which many users are all talking about at the same time.
Composing a tweet
On the left-hand side of the news feed there is a box where you can type in new tweets. Bear in mind there is a 140-character limit. An alternative way to tweet is to click the “Compose a tweet” button highlighted in blue in the top right corner.
To send a direct message (can only be sent to users who follow you) go to the recipient’s page and click on the menu button (silhouette of a person with dropdown arrow situated next to the number of followers) and select “send a direct message.”) Messages are also limited to 140 characters.
When you click the “@connect” button on the top tab you are able to view the tweets of followers who have interacted with you. You can filter this to just see those who have “mentioned” you in their tweets.
When a # is placed in front of a word or phrase (no spaces are used), this becomes a hashtag. These can be used to link tweets that are all part of the same topic, so when users search for a specific hashtag they can view all related tweets together.
Enjoy your tweeting!