One of the most consistent pieces of advice I have for people in academia at all levels is to check out all the great content and conversations happening on #ScienceTwitter. Over the years Rachel and I have used Twitter to meet other scientists, find job postings and other opportunities, share our STS blog posts, and enjoy many, many videos of kitties, babies, and puppies.
Starting out is pretty straight forward: create an account, choose a handle, set up your bio. What comes next can be a bit more intimidating. We’ve assembled some of our favorite tips and tricks for getting started and included some examples in the form of actual tweets! Keep an eye out for some useful twitter vocabulary sprinkled throughout this post.
TIP: Introduce yourself. Whether you have yet to tweet or you’ve been around for years and have some recent follows, it’s important to let people know who you are and what you’re about.
TIP: Find advice already available. There is lots of great advice in the two threads below. A thread is a connected sequence of tweets. You can see responses to the original tweet or responses to the responses. On these tweet there are over 100 responses each, full of great advice. These tweets are also using some useful hashtags to label and connect similar types of tweets. If you click the hashtag link you will be able to see all tweets that have used that tag, organizable by top vs recent tweets.
TIP: Start following some wonderful folks! This thread is a great starting place. One of the nice things about Twitter is you can really curate your feed to reflect all of your interests! Twitter will also recommend accounts to follow. Starting with popular accounts is great, but following local folks or folks who work on very similar themes to yourself will help your networking efforts.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to brag on yourself. Did you get a paper published or even just a draft written? Celebrate all of the big and small milestones in your work and get some delightful feedback from others in this online community. In the same vein, be sure to support others with a retweet or like. A retweet via clicking the two-arrow box (not shown on embedded tweets below) will add someone else’s tweet to your timeline. A like is a nice little huzzah for someone’s tweet that is done with a click on the heart icon.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to talk about your setbacks and failures! This is a tough one, but I have so much appreciation for people who can talk about their frustrations openly and it’s helped me work through my own as well.
TIP: Ask for advice! Work smarter, not harder. Utilize the Twitter hivemind.
TIP: Be on the look out for collaboration opportunities. For Dani Rabaiotti (below), what start out as a humorous inquiry about snake farts blossomed into a humongous science communication opportunity leading to two books! Twitter can also be great for finding people to collaborate on academic papers.
TIP: Grad student solidarity. Friends and family are valuable sources of support, but commiserating with others that have been down this path as well can be helpful and hilarious.
TIP: Protect your emotional and mental wellness. Scrolling through your Twitter feed isn’t always going to be the most uplifting way to spend your time. Remember that folks aren’t sharing every aspect of their lives online. Additionally, Twitter can be a great way to get access to communities of support for emotional and mental health struggles.
TIP: Keep an eye out for amazing job/internship opportunities! I’ve found several amazing opportunities through postings on Twitter, including a workshop at NEON!
TIP: Conference hashtags are possibly the best way to connect with others in your field! When I went to #ISEC2018 this past summer I was able to…. Check out some of these great #rstats visualizations from this conference’s tweets. You might even peek a familiar Twitter handle in the top ten tweeters chart! (Editor’s Note: I was at a conference on Sunday and had an in person, “Hey, we know each other from Twitter!” interaction because we were both tweeting from the conference.)
TIP: Keep exploring those hashtags! Find your people and join the conversations.
Hopefully by now you’re well on your way to navigating the Twitterverse! We’ll be tweeting this week on our STS and personal twitters and would love to hear from y’all. We don’t want to miss any of your tweets, especially if they are inspired by this post! Please tag us or use the hashtag #NewToSTEMTwitter to share with others.