Social Media in Academia: Using LinkedIn to promote your research

[Guest post by CYGNA member and Middlesex University PhD student Christa Sathish]

In this post, I will share some helpful tips and tricks to help you promote your research using LinkedIn. LinkedIn - a social media platform where jobs can be found, CVs managed, and careers developed - has evolved into a place filled with opportunities for researchers. 

How can researchers use LinkedIn effectively?

  • Develop a research specific network by following and connecting globally.
  • Participate in discussion boards.
  • Join research groups which may be public (visible to everyone) or private (visible to members only).
  • Engage with public groups.
  • Connect and engage with for instance publishers, editors, research participants through private messaging. 
  • Share your latest research updates.
  • Write an article using the ‘write an article’ function. 
  • Invite people to participate in research such as surveys, interviews or focus groups.
  • Share presentations.
  • Joining webinars, online conferences, symposiums or talks.
  • Find funding opportunities: https://www.linkedin.com/company/research/

Using LinkedIn enables researchers to reach national and international stakeholders and makes researchers and research visible to global research communities. Maintaining an online presence, engagement and connectivity has gained in importance during the COVID-19 Pandemic when meeting colleagues and other stakeholders physically has become almost impossible.

Your professional profile

The most obvious and important feature of your presence on LinkedIn is your profile. You can see a LinkedIn profile as a way to define your “academic brand”. A strong self-representation on LinkedIn, using an up-to-date and well-maintained profile, may lead to increased visitor levels, collaborations, networking and a better chance to reach a broader audience with research outputs and updates. Anne-Wil asked me to share my profile as a good example, so here it is.

In addition to Anne-Wil’s blog post about LinkedIn, I would like to mention the following points:

  • Attractive headlines which are catchy and include keywords of your current role and expertise increase the chance of displaying your profile when people search online. 
  • Profile pictures are beneficial, and they need to be professional. Casual photos such as selfies are better avoided. LinkedIn is a professional platform and the first impression when somebody looks you up counts. 
  • The summary (max 200 words) of your profile can boost attention to your profile. It is beneficial to mention your current research status, research interests, and any novel approach that will make you stand out from the crowd. 
  • Adding unique research identifiers like ORCID identification, potential peer recommendations and/or institutional endorsements significantly boost your presence as well as credibility. 

Integrating multimedia

Effective communication plays an important role when sharing information about your research, promoting articles or findings. A way to effectively communicate with your target audience on LinkedIn is to integrate various multimedia such as YouTube, infographics, seminars, or PowerPoint presentations which, for instance, are used for webinars. Sharing information and content using multimedia also supports the reach of a wider audience. 

Another way of increasing the attention to your profile is by sharing URLs related to your research, expertise or even your personal website link if you have your own website. When sharing URLs, it is helpful to insert specific hashtags to tag groups and people in your post which benefit the visibility of your content and our profile.

Building a solid network

When connecting with somebody it is good to ask yourself whether the person is relevant to your research, as they will potentially read your updates, articles and may become potential contributors or participants to our research. When connecting with people there is a 30 connections/per day limit on LinkedIn. Once you reach that threshold you will need to wait 24 hours before initiating a new connection request.

In building your network, focusing on first degree connections can make a big difference in how your research promotion reaches the relevant audience as well as who will be reading posts relevant to your own subject. A first degree connection is a person connected to you (see in the below image). second degree connections are people connected to your first degree connection and a third degree connection is a person connected to a second degree connection.  It is always good to know the purpose of a connection you wish to make and focusing on first and second degree connections helps to maintain your target audience. Click here for the LinkedIn connections overview

Another way of finding suitable connections is to look at how many of your current connected people relate to a potential new connection. The more connections in common the better chance the connection may be suitable. 

While sending connection requests, it is best practice to send a personalised message that provides reason for your connection. This is crucial if the connection request is being sent to someone you do not know or is not your second degree connection.

Group and discussion forums to promote research updates

If you are looking for opportunities to collaborate, it is a good idea to form connections with research groups, universities, funding institutions or other stakeholders relevant to your research. Connections like these enable and increase the chance that the information which you like to share reaches a wide target audience. 

It is important to be active when using LinkedIn to keep the conversations flowing as this increases the chance of more people interacting with your information. You can for instance discuss findings or other information with fellow researchers; you may well discover new ideas or opportunities for your research through this. 

There are several forums and groups for researchers hosted by LinkedIn where researchers can communicate, ask questions, and respond to others. It is also possible for you to start a new group related to your research. This will allow you to make new connections, increase your audience and show leadership skills. 

For more on how to use LinkedIn’s group function Click Here.

Publishing a post

When thinking about posts in LinkedIn there are a few points to consider which helps your post to successfully stand out. 

  • It is good to write about something to show your expertise. 
  • It is good practice to keep posts topic specific which adds to an effective communication with your target audience.
  • It is good to maintain an authentic voice when writing; self-permeate, use your own words, make sure the text is your own.
  • When voicing your opinions about a topic, follow common (academic) etiquette: write appropriate content for your audience; avoid intimidating or provocative content.
  • If you aim to use LinkedIn to disseminate findings and knowledge it is good to post as often as possible because continuity of publishing can build your credibility and strengthen your profile. 
  • Viewers prefer to read posts which are written over three paragraphs. 
  • Integration of multimedia, as indicated above, develops an effective communication with your target audience. You can easily insert content and multimedia using the share option on LinkedIn. 
  • Proofread your posts carefully to minimise errors.

In addition, you may already run a website or blog which you use to communicate your research. Using your own website or blog you can make your post stand out by writing a catchy introduction and then lead the audience to your own website or blog through a link. When thinking about how to share your content / information on social media like LinkedIn, it is important not to simply copy paste the same message (cross-posting). Posting the same message across websites and platforms can make your audience to become disinterested and annoyed as it looks like SPAM. Avoid posting the same content frequently which again can lead to loss of your target audience. If you want to repost you may wish to tweak the post to market the message attractively. You may want to choose specific times during the day where you anticipate that your target audience will be most available to read your posts. 

  • For more info on how to post on LinkedIn Click Here.
  • For more info on how to use the share option on LinkedIn Click Here.
  • For more on cross-posting Click Here

Videos: ResearchGate, Blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter

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