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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Year's Resolution: Tweet More

I doubt "spend more time on social media" is a top New Year's resolution for many, unless it's to combine Facebook time-sucks with a treadmill. But in 2017, it may be worth striving to use social media more for professional purposes. And for academics, Twitter is the place to be. 

Before this past election, Twitter's relevance may not have seemed obvious. Now, with Trump's tweets making news on an almost daily basis, it's a hard platform to ignore. Back in April, Chris Walker posted on PrawfsBlawg about the benefits of Twitter for academics, and I tend to agree that Twitter is a worthwhile endeavor. I was discouraged from maintaining my professional Twitter feed in 2013 when I was a fellow preparing to go on the market, mainly out of the legitimate concern of not being taken seriously as an aspiring professor. Focusing on long-form scholarship and serious academic inquiry is of course the main focus, though in my view not inconsistent with tweeting (the debate rages on, however). I stuck to Twitter because, without it, I was missing out on important law & tech updates. Frankly, the scholars I cite in law review articles use Twitter to discuss their work and share ideas. I've learned through Twitter about calls for papers, articles posted to SSRN, and important tech developments. I may have learned these things on other platforms eventually, but I peruse Twitter during free moments and catch quick updates that otherwise may slip through the cracks in an email or other announcement. And Twitter can be fun -- from following live tweets of major events like the Super Bowl or premiere of Sharknado to nerding out when someone you admire retweets you. Fortunately, my colleagues at Toledo Law have embraced Twitter as well, or at least recognize its benefits for increasing law school visibility for scholars, students, and prospective students.

I don't intend to rehash the debate over Twitter's utility, but instead want to post some concrete tips for first-timers and power users, including how Twitter works, what to tweet, and tools to streamline your Twitter routine. Staying active on Twitter does take some effort (though substantially less than blogging, as I'm learning first-hand this month), but I am making it a goal for next year to keep active on Twitter. Today I'll get into the basics of setting up an account, and future posts will contain more advanced tips and tricks.

To start, consider creating a Twitter account just to observe rather than tweet. Even then, set up the account with an eye towards sticking with it in the long run:
  • Don't bother with a private account if you're using Twitter for professional enrichment. Set it to public, but remember that your conversations are visible to all and essentially a permanent part of your online identity.
  • Be sure to pick a good Twitter handle (your "@" username). It should be short so as not to take up too many characters when someone mentions you. And it should be professional and meaningful -- think of it as part of your personal brand. Mine is @socmediaJD, which is actually shorter and easier than my name but not particularly great.
  • Add a profile photo (rather than the default egg image) so that people know you're an actual human being.
  • Add your 140-character profile description. You can list your title and affiliation, perhaps even your bio link, but be aware of your institution's social media policies.
  • Check out other people's Twitter feeds. Start with your friends, colleagues, favorite news sources, and reporters. If you like the content, you can follow those accounts so that their tweets show up in your news feed (note that the folks you follow get a notice that you're following them, and anyone can see the list of who you follow).

Tomorrow I'll add suggestions on what to tweet about, some mechanics of how Twitter works, and other Twitter-specific conventions.


Posted by Agnieszka McPeak on December 27, 2016 at 05:08 PM | Permalink


Darrell, I just posted additional tips for streamlining your Twitter routine, which include some points about using Twitter lists. That may be the best way to avoid missing relevant content. And I plan to try a Twitter dashboard, which may help too.

Posted by: Agnieszka McPeak | Dec 29, 2016 1:31:56 PM

Thank you! I'd especially appreciate any suggestions on how to be more efficient using Twitter. I feel like I miss a lot.

Posted by: Darrell Jackson | Dec 27, 2016 8:02:12 PM

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