Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My social media strategy for sharing research (Jane Kelley)

I work on a parasite that infects dairy cattle called liver fluke.

It reduces production and compromises the welfare of the animals. Due to the negative health effects of liver fluke inflections for dairy cattle, our research must be communicated to farmers, veterinarians and industry in a timely manner.

In the last post I discussed how I created a project website. In this post, I discuss the use of Twitter and how we intend to blog our findings.

Embracing Twitter

I’m not a Twitter expert, but I am a Twitter convert. I was initially reluctant to promote myself and my research through Twitter because of the potential for negative comments from activist groups.

I learned that if you are cautious and professional you won't have any issues. Followers engage with you to seek more information, clarify information in the tweet, or participate in the discussion. For me, these interactions have led to very stimulating discussions and fantastic networking - all of which has greatly benefited the project.

To become a master of the Twitterverse you need to become familiar with the unique lingo, a full list can be found here. Setting up an account is straightforward: you need an email, a profile picture and you need to decide on a public username. For more information about how to do this, check out this post on The RED Alert or sign up for a social media workshop with Tseen in 2018 (program's in the works - check our workshops listing early next year!).

You need to be clear about how you intend to use your account. I use my account to generate awareness about the research, promote the discipline, refer to resources, and build networks with my audiences.

I have listed below several key questions that will help you to determine how you are going to use your account:

Q: Are you representing yourself? Your lab? A grant?
Q: Who do I want to follow my twitter account?
Q: Who should I follow?
Q: What content do I want to tweet?
Q: What content should I tweet to increase my followers?
Q: What actions can I take to better engage with my followers?

The important term for this post is Follow because on Twitter you choose who you follow, therefore the only tweets you see in your timeline are from those accounts. I think this is the best feature of
Twitter because the customised timeline means you see highly relevant content, get the scoop on scholarship opportunities, jobs, papers and, if you cannot afford to go to a conference, there is always someone livetweeting.

Tweets are public on an open account, they are restricted to 280 characters, and you cannot edit a tweet once posted. It is important to mix up the content between research, personal and promotion.

Tweets including images and videos will have a much greater reach than just words. I tweeted a video of parasites swimming because I thought it was cool and the tweet exceeded 5,000 impressions!

If you’re not careful, Twitter can take up a lot of your time. I use a program called Buffer to schedule tweets. They are automatically published on the date and time you select (free version allows you to queue up to ten entries). It saves time and has the added benefit of generating analytics for each tweet. 

Blog posts

The project that I work on is coming to an end this year. We're aiming to blog our findings on the project website, as well as share the factsheets developed throughout the project. These links for these posts will be subsequently tweeted.

Depending on the significance of the findings, a press release may also be used to promote the research. If your research is picked up by media outlets, make sure you contact the La Trobe University media team. They can provide support, organise photos, give you tips on how to deal with media, and help promote your findings on different platforms, helping you to reach an even bigger audience.

If you get this opportunity, embrace it! Sharing my research has led to some amazing opportunities and it has been well worth stepping outside my comfort zone.

Hope to meet you in the Twitterverse!

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Jane Kelley grew up on a farm in Gippsland, and has always wanted to work with farmers. 

Jane completed an Associate Degree in Environmental Horticulture at the University of Melbourne, later completing a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science with honours at La Trobe University. Jane’s honours project focused on drug resistant parasites in cattle, and she won the dairy sector Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Fishers, Forestry and Agriculture. 

In 2014, Jane commenced her PhD investigating ‘The epidemiology and management of liver fluke parasites in cattle in irrigated regions of Victoria’. This research led to a $340,000 grant funded by the Gardiner Foundation and Dairy Australia. 

Jane tweets at @jm2kelley.

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