I am participating in a training session aimed to helping academics make better use of social media as I write this post. The workshop has just started by exploring why social media are important and why action is needed.
16.30 - John Fotis, a PhD student, explained that social media are here to stay and all kinds of people (not only young) are using them. He continued by identifying the various types of social media> social networking sites (e.g. facebook, linked in), blogs (travelblog, travelpod), microblogs (e.g. twitter), Wikis (e.g. wikipedia, wikitravel), content comunity sites (e.g. picasa, flickr, slideshare), consumer review sites (e.g. tripadvisor), internet forums (e.g. lonely planet) and location-based social media (e.g. foursquare). John has also highlighted some key numbers: 1 in 3 upload content on the internet (UK), flickr contains 5bn photos. Academics are among the most active in social media: 1.5m academics, 45m abstracts, 10+ million pdf/free texts.
16.50 - Just finished my brief contribution to this workshop. I emphasised the 'war of visibility' that academics and institutions face given the number of users & content being generated. Social media is a good way to establish a presence in the web, and more specifically among specific social groups. It allows you to come earlier in search engines, and maintain 'non-invasive' communication with my 'publics'. I explained that I use blogs, academic, facebook and linked in because that's what suits me.
17.10 - One colleague asked whether using social media has a good return on investment... Dimitrios Buhalis answered that using social media need not to take too much time. I added that many times I simply post a link to a paper (2 minutes), or write a report for the university on the conference I attended, which I 'recycle' and post on my blog.
Dimitrios emphasised the six tips for social media success:
1. start with the right strategy
2. know your objectives
3. deliver relevant content
4. develop meaningful relationships
5. integrate into your marketing mix
6. measure what matters
17.30 - As the purpose was to instill action, the workshop is continuing by covering each of the steps academics should undertake:
1) establish profile: blog, academic, facebook, youtube, linkedin, twitter
2) create content: publications, courses, conferences, research interests, achievements, projects, community contributions.
3) publicise through different channels: create networks of academics (you advertise each others work), use media selectively (e.g. twitter is about 'now', blogs are picked up by search engines and are a good planform for ensuring its content is accessible for a long time)
4) engage in conversations.
The practical side of the workshop involved exploring how social media works. For this purpose, Dimitrios just posted about an IFITT event in a number of pages on facebook. In a few minutes, it was tweeted, facebook friends read about it and liked it. Some shared it with their friends. Social media played its role again.