Social Media Map

My take on a social media strategy for academics!  Or, at least, this is how I’ve used Twitter as my main channel of communication, to aggregate stuff from elsewhere into Twitter automatically, and to send it all out again to other networks.

Over the past few years I’ve found Twitter to be the most versatile and useful social media tool for professional use.  I can make quick and easy comments on “what’s happening”, put in hyperlinks or images, reply and re-tweet, categorise use hashtags etc, etc.  It’s main benefit is probably the 14o characters – this helps me to be concise as short means quick (usually) and there are fewer unfinished drafts hanging about in the ether.

As an academic, I use all of these tools in a professional sense, so I’m content to allow each one to interface with another and share content around.  However, the map illustrated above comes partly serendipitous and partly planned that way.

The people whom I follow, and by and large those who follow me, on Twitter are professional, work-related or interested in some way, shape or form in law, legal education, technology and the like.  I keep in mind what I think these followers would be interested in when I compose a tweet, but as my account is not locked down, the entire stream is open and publicly viewable.  In fact, by using tags and re-tweeting, there is a wider unknown audience who may pick up on some tweets in this way.

Twitterfeed is a great tool for taking RSS content and automatically generating a tweet whenever new content is made available.  I’ve used the service sparingly, and only for trusted sources (either my own self-controlled source or a seriously trustworthy third party) to save me from writing tweets, and to auto-tweet when I’m not really around to do so!

The Slideshare and SSRN sources are my own powerpoint presentations and published papers, so they don’t cause a major content overload.  My favourites from YouTube and Google Reader depend wholly on how often I use the ‘star’ function for each one, so there does need to be some care to avoid a Twitter overload.

The final automated twitterfeed item consists of news items from an organisation I work for, so I know by and large what to expect with their news items and have faith that their news will a) be reliable, and b) be of interest to my followers on twitter.  Experience has confirmed this belief, thankfully!

Content that does not come through twitterfeed includes this blog and a blog I run for another organisation and I will add occasional location-based comments using Foursquare that post directly to twitter, as most social networking tools can.

As I’m happy using twitter as my primary method of communicating, I tend not to use other networks on a regular basis – other than to update the profile once in a while.  Although, I do wish to maintain a presence on these other sites, and will occasionally make more or less use of them, depending on my needs and preferences.

Linking Twitter to these accounts in the opposite direction, to send tweets outwards into these other networks allows me to have some presence without having to create content.

LinkedIn started as, and so remains, a network of professional associations.  I find their weekly digests (emailed to me) to be extremely useful as an overview of what’s been happening with my connections.  Yes, there will be overlap with those who are on twitter, but not everyone is, and also I’ve found twitter to be largely dependent on ‘here and now’, whereas LinkedIn gives me a brief and informative summing up of the recent past.

And finally, Facebook.  Again, a largely professional network but with a wider net capturing a few friends, colleagues, ex-students  (never current students, it’s enough to see what they do post-graduation) and the like.  Also, Facebook is a better environment for posting or sharing work-related content (images of slides, presenters, delegates at conferences or events perhaps) that are of less value to a wider audience (eg Twitter) and are maybe more appropriately restricted to friends and friends-of-friends, or groups and associations etc.

As I said at the start, this is my take on social media, and it works well for me.  Mapping it out helped slightly to ensure that there were no endless loops where content could be re-tweeted in a never ending cycle, and to see that I was using what I think are appropriate tools in an appropriate way.

So, If you’re reading this, give some consideration as to whether you’ve come here by way of my:

1 – Blog
2 – Twitter
3 – LinkedIn
4 – Facebook

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About Michael Bromby
Reader in Law at Glasgow Caledonian University

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