So you want to use twitter for Knowledge Translation

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

Social media is becoming more popular with researchers and graduate students as a means for dissemination and stakeholder engagement. One of the KT Core’s services is to provide support for social media strategies to researchers, trainees and partners.

I have had researchers in our Network say to me “I signed up for a twitter account, but I don’t know what to do now”. If you can relate to this, check out this guide for beginners, then come back here for more tips. The tips below are based on my own experience when I was new to twitter (we were all there at some point!):

1) Build your network. Sign in to your twitter account online and go to the search box at the top. Search keywords related to your discipline, the names of organizations of interest to you (maybe ones you partner with for your research, or whose work you are interested in) including @NeuroDevNet and @NeuroDevNetKT.

Search within twitter to find new people to follow

Search within twitter to find new people to follow

Look through the list, and click “follow” for the ones you want to follow. This means every time you sign in online (or on your mobile device if your twitter is connected to your phone for example) you will view your ‘twitter feed’ which contains postings or tweets from the individuals/organizations that you follow. Often, when you follow an organization they will follow you back. You should try to have an equal number of followers as people you are following – but at first, you will be following many more than will be following you, that’s ok, it will even out over time. You should go through the ones you follow every once in a while and ‘prune’ the ones that don’t add value to your network (e.g. if they don’t tweet stuff that is interesting to you).

2) Know how to send public and private messages. Assume your tweets will be seen by everyone, and can be searched by people who are not in your network (not following you). Only in cases where you are following and being followed by the same person/organization, you can send a “DM” or “Direct Message” by clicking on the envelope icon (when you are signed into your twitter account) and typing their twitter handle (@someone) into the “to” box.

Use Direct Message (DM) in twitter to send messages that are private

Use Direct Message (DM) in twitter to send messages that are private

It’s like sending an email – only the person you send it to will see it, and instead of typing in an email address you type in their twitter handle instead. If you want to tweet publicly but want to ‘tag’ someone (to make sure they see it), you can type their twitter handle into the tweet, like “@someone new video about my research #myresearch”.



3) Know how to be short and tweet.  By the time you add in your links, hashtags, and twitter handles (see #2) it can quickly take up the 140 characters you have to write your message.   So, you should usually aim to keep your message to about 120 characters.

Don't make your tweets too long
Don’t make your tweets too long

 If someone wants to retweet your message (which you want, for greater exposure for your research and for you to attract more followers) it needs to be even shorter, around 110 characters. You can use tricks like turning regular words in the body of your tweet into hashtags instead of putting a hashtag at the end, but only if it makes sense (e.g. “Please join us for #KMbChat on Tuesday to talk about #socialmedia success stories”). Use shorter words – notice in the example I used “talk” instead of “discuss”. Finally, shorten the links you share with or something similar.
If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher, trainee or partner and would like more resources (guides like the link provided) or consultation on how to improve your social media strategies for KT, contact the KT Core.

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