How to help your Academics with Social Media

To help your academics with social media, they’re going to need your socially-savvy guidance and assistance. It’s very likely that they haven’t had much exposure to social media in the past so this will be a leap of faith for them. So you need to arm them with the best practices to ensure they don’t get their finger burnt during their first foray.

You’ve used the first blog in this series to successfully build the business case for your academics and social media and convinced them to join the social conversation. You have established social media as a key ingredient of academic life and an effective platform for promoting work and networking with peers, but there still  exists an undercurrent of questions and concerns surrounding how, why, when and where to engage with the online community. So what do you do next?

We’ve created a list of our effective best practice principles that you can pass on to your academics, helping them get off to a confident and successful start;

1 – Make it understandable for them

Find examples of people who are blogging, preferably within the same subject as your academics and show them how they approach it. Tell them the goals you have, how they can work towards these and what benefits there would be for themselves and your institute.

2 – Teach the basics

Set up workshops to demystify blogs with your academics and bring the initial information to them and point out why they are good examples – answering any questions they have along the way. Be sure to let you academics know the basics too, like the difference between a mention and a reply. If they start their tweets with @SocialSignInApp, it will only be seen by them, SocialSignIn and their mutual followers.

3 – Let them explore the unexplored

There’s nothing wrong with your academics taking inspiration from established bloggers before they grow in confidence and develop their own style. Creating a document with links to bloggers that may be of interest to them is a great starting point.

4 – Let them dip their toe

If they are still nervous about getting involved then you could let them to why not ask them to guest blog for more established sites like Times Higher Education? This could be a good option for those unable or unwilling to blog regularly.

5 – Find the right balance

Posting too much / not enough -People follow you because they like you, what you do, or what you say. Use restraint when posting, ensuring that content adds value, is timely and relevant. Only using social media to “broadcast” – This can quickly dull engagement and audience trust, make sure you proactively reach out and interact with the content shared by your connections.

6 – Don’t delete negative comments

To those new to social media it would seem counterintuitive to let negative comments be seen by all, but it represents an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and create good PR. It’s possibly even worth providing an example for your academics during the initial training.  

7 – Have a strategy in place

Not having a strategy – As social media is no longer optional for organisations, it’s imperative to help your academics identify what they want to achieve and their strategy for doing so.

8 – Use a distinctive voice

By offering an original perspective on new or existing research, your academics can become a breath of fresh air and quickly grow their following. It’s good for them to inject their personality into their content to ensure that they become personable and approachable. It’s good to show a bit of personality beyond your professional tweets – it is social media after all, but advise your academics to just sense-check what they share.

9 – Don’t go #hashtag crazy

Explain to your colleagues that carefully-selected hashtags will help get their content in front of the desired audience but include too many and it just looks spammy.

10 – If all else fails..

One simple technique to raise their academic profile is to put the PowerPoint slides of your academics on a service such as SlideShare, these can then be quickly and simply shared across LinkedIn and within specific LinkedIn groups, their department, to their research group and, most importantly, to them personally.


Giving your academics the confidence to get active on social is a challenge, but the rewards can be huge for both the person and the institution. With the right guidance and strategies you can get them onto the right path to creating a strong social presence whilst elevating their personal brand, and that of your organisation.

If you would like know how to help your academics excel on social media, please download our free eBook using the following link; Academics and Social Media.

My little Jedi & Moi - EditedAbout the Writer:
Rhiannon Birch is PR & Marketing Coordinator at SocialSignIn. She is passionate about all aspects of writing and enjoys discussing the real-life stories behind social media. With two young children and three dogs, Rhiannon spends her (very little) spare time exploring new places and watching Star Wars.

If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn click here or follow her on Twitter @RhiSkywalker