02 Nov 2016

8 Ways to Network Better on Twitter

8 Ways to Network Better on Twitter

Your next job or grant may be 140 characters away.

One in five U.S. adults now uses Twitter, finds a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center. Along with LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter is a social media platform that's also a valuable tool for netting jobs and other opportunities; a 2014 survey by Jobvite found that half of employers surveyed used Twitter for recruiting.

Because it offers the chance to meet other professionals and share timely information in an informal, open-access environment, Twitter is also an important tool for science communication.

But merely having a Twitter handle won't grow your professional presence — you need unique skills to get and hold people's attention. Here are eight ways to maximize your Twitter network:

  1. Identify yourself. To help people — and search engines — find you on Twitter, make sure your profile includes your real name and a link to your website, as well as a high-quality photo and a few words about your areas of expertise. Find great examples at Twitter's best practices blog: https://blog.twitter.com/2015/tweettip-twitter-profile-best-practices.
  2. Dive in. Follow people and organizations you want to get to know. Then immerse yourself by tweeting about the latest news in your field, retweeting others' posts and applauding psychologists who publish important new research. "When you mention somebody, they'll often retweet you if you've said something nice about them," says Amy Lynn Smith (@alswrite), a communications strategist who helped with President Obama's 2012 campaign. "That kind of reciprocity is what makes Twitter successful."
  3. Participate in online events. Join Twitter chats or consider hosting one yourself. The National Institute of Mental Health hosts chats regularly — find a list at www.nimh.nih.gov/health/twitter-chats/index.shtml.
  4. Live tweet. Attending a conference? Let other attendees know you're there by tweeting top talking points, or discussing sessions including the conference hashtag.
  5. Use graphics. Tweets with photos and video have engagement rates — likes, retweets and clicks — 35 percent higher than those that don't, according to Twitter.
  6. Be modest. Talking about your work builds credibility. Too much self-promotion, though, can be off-putting. "If it's your intent just to share all the wonderful things you have done, Twitter will ignore you," says Benjamin Miller, PsyD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who uses Twitter to share health policy news.
  7. Don't disappear — or deluge. Most followers appreciate regular engagement, according to a 2012 report by Salesforce, a data analysis firm. Posting one to four times per day is optimal; more than seven times daily and your readers may tune out.
  8. Have fun. Let your personality shine to help followers get to know you. Humor helps; think cocktail party conversation. "It's not called social media for nothing," Smith says. Remember, though, that screen grabs are forever, so stay professional.

For more tips on using Twitter effectively, visit #learnsocialmedia, an ongoing chat. And be sure to follow @APA_Monitor to stay on top of practice news and psychology research.

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