February Issue • Volume 44 • Issue 2

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Four Steps to Enhance Your Social Media Presence

Dustin Kidd (@PopCultureFreak), Temple University

If you are not yet an active user of social media, I am guessing that you probably have your doubts about its value and you may even worry that your colleagues are wasting precious time on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Pinterest. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I am sure there were similar fears in the early days of both the internet and the telephone. Like those earlier communication technologies, there is an air of inevitability about social media. To borrow from Trollope, social media is part of the way we live now. So if you’ve been putting off using social media at all, or putting off using it for scholarly purposes, it may be time to reconsider. To help you get started, I offer these four easy steps.

  1. Start with Twitter: Although Facebook is still the best way to digitally connect with your friends, Twitter is the best approach to reach a broad audience very quickly. Create a professional Twitter account using your name, or a key phrase from your research, and give a description of your work. You won’t reach an audience with an anonymous profile. And don’t be afraid to post a face picture. If you don’t want to post your picture, post a logo from your school or some other image that is indicative of your professional life.
  2. Find followers by following others: Search for your colleagues and peers on Twitter. You may be surprised how many are on there. Click the “follow” button each time you find one of them. In addition, search for and follow the Twitter accounts for organizations that you participate in and those that you respect as good sources of information. These might include research centers, foundations, academic organizations, news services, and funding agencies. You should also consider following policymakers who have influence in your field. If you need a good place to get started, Philip Cohen (@FamilyUnequal) maintains a great list of sociologists on Twitter (twitter.com/familyunequal/lists/sociologists/members).
  3. Post ideas. We are professional content makers, so social media is completely in our wheelhouse. The biggest complaint I hear from non-users is that their ideas cannot be reduced to 140 characters. But brevity and concision is such an important part of successfully conveying your message and the scholars who get that are also the ones who get frequent calls from the press. So by all means, please practice with the 140-character format of Twitter. You can also post links to longer elaborations of your ideas on blog posts as well as citations for your new publications. Post links to news coverage of your research topics. Make your Twitter feed the best place to visit for the most thorough collection of ideas about your areas of interest.
  4. Join us at the Social Media Pre-conference on the afternoon before the ASA Annual Meeting begins, August 20, in Seattle. I will be running the workshops along with my co-organizer Tressie McMillan Cottom. We have a lot more tricks and tips to share with you to make sharing your work on social media more productive and maybe even, dare I say, fun! Watch for details as we get closer to the final program (see www.asanet.org/AM2016/AM_2016.cfm).

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