Best social media platforms for PhDs and early career researchers
Personal Brand,  Social Media

What are the best social media platforms for PhDs and early career academics?

You feel like you want to develop a social media presence to build your personal brand and network but you are overwhelmed with the options. Social media can quickly become a full-time job so it is important to not spread yourself too thin. Start with one network and build from there over time.

How to choose a platform

A platform needs to be right for you so that you don’t have to force yourself to create content. You should choose a platform that suits your personality and comfort with sharing.

A platform also needs to have the people you want to connect with on it. In the breakdown of each platform below I give some general information on who is on the different platforms. Before you commit to a platform explore each one and see where your peers/customers are located.

The right platform also depends on your goals. Do you want to strengthen your brand as a professor? Network? Connect with students? Develop a speaking or consulting business?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no extra cost to you I will receive an affiliate commission.

Platforms

Twitter

The most popular network for academics is Twitter. Twitter allows you to share your thoughts in 280 characters or less. Twitter is a fantastic platform to get started on because it allows you to access up-to-date information in your field and stay in contact with past colleagues and fellow doctoral students. Twitter is also a fantastic medium to build yourself as an industry expert. Use Twitter to draw attention to your work and interact with the research and/or industry community.

Instagram

Increasingly popular with early career researchers and PhDs developing their side hustles. Instagram is my favourite network right now for a number of reasons. It is easy to consume the highly visual content. It is restrictive in what you post therefore there are less spammy posts. It is easy to find relevant content through hashtags. Most importantly, it has the highest organic (aka free) engagement of any platform. Instagram has over 1 billion active users! Therefore, it chances are your audience is on Instagram.

Facebook Pages/Groups

While Facebook has gone out of style over the last few years Facebook Pages still have a place. If you are developing a business and your target audience is older, then Facebook is a great place for you to start.

If you want to have an Instagram Business account (which I recommend for start-ups and bloggers so that you can add that clickable link) you will need a Facebook page. One advantage of a Facebook page is you can invite your friends to like the page to get you started with your first 50 or so likes.

A Facebook group attached to your Facebook Page is an option if you would like to provide a community forum and share VIP content with a selective group of people.

Snapchat

I do not recommend Snapchat unless you have a lot of time to dedicate to creating content and your target audience is young people. Snapchat requires a large amount of content creation and can be overwhelming when you are just starting out to develop your personal brand. Instagram Stories (which like Snapchat has pictures and videos that disappear) now has over 400 million active daily users. So if you want the style of Snapchat with more features and an easier to use platform then Instagram is a great choice.

Google +

Google + is in the process of shutting down due to a data breach.

Pinterest

While this platform is not technically social media, I include it here because it is a way to develop your brand and direct traffic to your website. Pinterest is actually a search engine – it is just visual rather than a traditional text based search engine. This is fantastic as it means you can drive potential buyers straight to your website from Pinterest.

The biggest advantage of Pinterest is that the ‘life’ of content is much, much longer than any of the above mentioned social networks. A ‘pin’ on Pinterest lasts for months and sometimes years. I use Tailwind loops to automatically re-pin my content for me.

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