How can you keep a research story alive after it has been published? There are several ways. For example, you can work with your institution’s media relations team to repurpose the article for a news release. Or, you can work with the publications team to reprint your story in the university’s alumni magazine. Or, you can post the story on your school’s home page (just keep in mind that web stories are generally shorter than traditional pieces).
Now, though, there’s an even easier way to share a research story – and if you’re already set up on Twitter, the whole process can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Allow me to explain.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a research story about nano-satellites for Ryerson University and the resulting article was posted on the school’s home page. I always like to post links to those stories on my Twitter account (@ExploreResearch). One, it generates a tiny bit of extra publicity for my client. And two, hey, it doesn’t hurt to highlight my byline.
To be honest, I’m still growing my list of Twitter followers. At the moment, I have a few hundred followers, including numerous universities and research-funding agencies, as well as Britney Spears (yes, her official account!) and, at one point, someone named Hamburger Harv (yes, his official account!).
Since I don’t have a huge Twitter following, I use strategic hashtags in my tweets. Doing so enables me to reach a broader audience. In essence, I get more bang for my, um, tweet.
Anyway, for my nano-satellite post, I used “@” symbols and hashtags to draw the attention of the funding agencies mentioned in the original story. In this case, it was the Canada Foundation for Innovation (@InnovationCA), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (@NSERC_CRSNG). I follow both organizations.
So here’s what my tweet looked like:
Good things in small packages. My story about nano-satellite #research at @RyersonU, with @InnovationCA funding: http://bit.ly/pX6mYp #nserc
The “@” symbols were shout-outs to Ryerson and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, while the hashtags grouped my tweets with others related to research and NSERC. (The Bitly link, of course, helped me track the click rate.)
In the end, my story was retweeted by NSERC to its 700+ followers, and my link received nine clicks and was shared by two people on Facebook. To be sure, it was a very small slice of the social media pie, but it proves that people are looking for solid content to share online. And if I can get nine clicks, imagine what the official Twitter account of your magazine and/or university could generate. Just by getting the right eyeballs on your story-turned-tweet.
Of course, be prudent when using hashtags (three at most) – and, while we’re on the topic, creating tweets that toot your own horn. The general rule of social media content is this: 90 per cent should benefit your followers while 10 per cent should pertain to your own point of view. Maintain that ratio over the long haul and you will attract a strong Twitter following, and maybe (just maybe!) Britney Spears and Hamburger Harv.
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