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Introduction to Social Media: Tools and tips

These pages are intended to support academic staff interested in the use of social media to develop a professional online research presence and consider the issues inherent in working in such an open manner online.

University Policy

  • Ensure you check the University IT policy before downloading or installing a particular tool for learning and teaching purposes, as there are some social media services (such as Dropbox, for example) that are not approved by IT for security reasons.
  • Remember that in addition to using social media to highlight and enhance your reputation as an academic in your chosen field, you are also representing the University! It is advisable to put some kind of statement, perhaps in your profile, to the effect that your views are your own and not representative of the University.

Top Ten Tips

Top ten tips for social media use, from '10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics' by Katrina Gulliver.

1. Put up an avatar. It doesn't really matter what the picture is, but the "egg picture" (the default avatar for new accounts) makes you look like a spammer.

2. Don't pick a Twitter name that is difficult to spell or remember.

3. Tweet regularly.

4. Don't ignore people who tweet at you. Set Twitter to send you an e-mail notification when you get a mention or a private message. If you don't do that, then check your account frequently.

5. Engage in conversation. Don't just drop in to post your own update and disappear. Twitter is not a "broadcast-only" mechanism; it's CB radio.

6. Learn the hashtags for your subject field or topics of interest, and use them.

7. Don't just make statements. Ask questions.

8. Don't just post links to news articles. I don't need you to be my aggregator.

9. Do show your personality. Crack some jokes.

10. Have fun!


Many social media sites can be linked or synced, so that anything posted on one will automatically update another. For example, Twitter and Facebook can be linked so that anything you tweet appears on your Facebook newsfeed, and vice versa. This will save you a huge amount of time if you regularly use more than one social media site.

Social media overlap

Social Media Overlap

Use an aggregator

There are literally hundreds of social media sites out there, and keeping track of all of them is impossible. Even if you only maintain accounts on the most visible, you can still may be managing a Twitter account, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account, a YouTube account... And if you're anything like me, you may have both personal and professional accounts on each of those sites!

Unless you want to spend hours of your day bouncing from one site to another, aggregators are a must. Use a program like HootSuite or TweetDeck to combine all your accounts in one place - it makes checking for updates so much easier!