CYGNA: Building your academic brand through social media

Reports on our 16th CYGNA meeting with two presentations on social media in academia

Since moving to the UK, I have been involved in running CYGNA. The network was established in June 2014  as a combined initiative of Argyro Avgoustaki, Ling Eleanor Zhang, and Anne-Wil Harzing, later joined by Shasha Zhao. The name CYGNA comes from the female version of the Greek word for SWAN (Supporting Women in Academia Network). The main objective of the group is to promote interaction among female academics based in the London area and to provide a forum for learning, support, and networking. We typically hold five meetings a year with a mix of presentations and informal discussions. A quick overview of the topics covered can be found here. A full list of the blogposts of our mid 2014 to mid 2018 meetings can be found at CYGNA: Resource collection for the summer holidays. We also maintain a readings and inspirations section for female academics and have a Twitter hashtag #cygna_london.

16th meeting 19 May 2017 (ESCP Europe)

Organised by Argyro Avgoustaki, ESCP Europe

At our last meeting for the 2016-2017 academic year (see picture below), we had two presentations on social media use in academia. ESCP's Meg Lee presented on the research behind social media, whilst Anne-Wil gave a practical illustration of how to use social media effectively.

Social media: why and how?

Meg's research on digital marketing includes a strong interest in the use of social media by CEOs. Although Meg is not an avid social media user herself, she did a great job in applying her research to academia. As you can see the topic generates contrasting opinions.

Her matrix of different ways to engage with social media was particularly useful as it shows that there is not "one best way". Personally, I have never been a big fan of using social media for personal interaction (I seem to one of a rapidly vanishing minority who do not have a Facebook account), but in the last couple of years I seem to have moved from being an analyst to being a though leader. That sounds good doesn't it?


Building your academic brand through social media

My presentation focused on the practicalities of engaging with social media to build your academic brand. I covered the main social media outlets that are relevant in academia:

  1. Google Scholar Profiles, not strictly speaking social media as there is limited scope for interaction beyond following an academic's updates, but it is an essential online CV, covering all your publications and their citations. Since version 5 and 6 Publish or Perish also allows searching GS Profiles, which instantly gives you all of PoP's handy metrics for your GS profile.
  2. LinkedIn profile, very useful to present your basic CV online and connect with other academics (and non-academics!). You can also share resources with your followers. I find it a very useful venue to share my blogposts as it draws a slightly different audience than my Twitter account (which is followed more by academics in bibliometrics).
  3. ResearchGate, another online platform that allows you to list your publications (with full-text where possible) and define research projects. Just be careful with your email alert settings as the default settings alert you "whenever someone in your networks farts".
  4. Twitter , a micro-blogging site. Initially I thought this was utterly stupid only useful for celebrities and people concerned with each others' breakfasts, but I have found it a useful means to keep up-to-date with academic news and share your own (and your colleagues') work and achievements. An unexpected benefit can be internal marketing, my Dean, Executive Dean and VC all follow me.
  5. Blogging. As you can see I have embraced this outlet with gusto, posting in the following ten categories: Academia Behind the Scenes, Academic Etiquette, Classic Papers, Conferences, CYGNA, From my Inbox, Positive Academia, Publish or Perish Tips, Research Focus, and That's Interesting.

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