How to be a Twitter academic

It seems that when you are in the academia, everything becomes more complicated. Even your social media profiles might cause worry. This week, Sian shares her experience with Twitter…


Who am I? Why isn’t anybody listening to me? Is everyone judging me on what I just said?

You may now be thinking that you’ve accidently opened the blog post of a tormented teenager, but you are sadly mistaken! This is me: a 23 year old PhD student struggling to write a Tweet. Not an essay, not my thesis: a tweet! I mean come on, it’s only Twitter! What’s so hard about being a Twitter academic…

sian twitter

When it first launched in 2006, Twitter was a hub of social interaction, banter and hashtags. These days, Twitter is flooded with academics, harnessing the power of social media to share their opinions and disseminate their research findings to the world. So when I joined the craze, I was understandably excited about the world of new possibilities and connections that lay in front of me.

I sat down to write my first ‘intellectual’ tweet… And nothing happened. Apparently writers block isn’t just reserved for ‘traditional’ academic writing! This struggle has continued to bother me throughout my endeavour to be a fully-fledged ‘twitter academic’. I either feel as though I have nothing of value to say, too much to say (in the case of the dreaded 36 character limit!) or absolutely no idea of how to say what I mean.

So here are my 3 top tips on how to be a ‘Twitter academic’:

  1. Create your own Twitter community: Following other Twitter academics can be a great way to get started. Not only can you gain inspiration from their style, but you can also respond, reply and interact with their tweets. This allows you to begin conversing with other academics, making connections and forming an online community where you can flourish and feel confident.
  2. Find a balance between ‘you’ and ‘academic you’: Tweeting is almost like shouting at the top of your lungs in a crowded pub. Being in a public space, there are certain things you’d never shout out! At the same time, a pub is a more relaxed atmosphere than an academic setting. Make your tweets intellectual yet conversational. Don’t worry if this seems difficult at first because tip number three is…
  3. Be brave! : It’s very easy to get caught up in what others think about your tweets, especially with direct feedback in the form of likes and retweets. However, try not to get too caught up in the Twitter popularity contest. Making a contribution on Twitter is better than remaining silent, and by engaging with other Twitter users, you may interact with people who otherwise you’d never have even met! So be brave, tweet and enjoy it!

What are your experiences of #BeingATwitterAcademic? Why not share your own tips in the comments below?

Happy tweeting! 🙂

Text and image credits: Sian Williamson (@SianDoesScience). Post first published on Sian Does Science.

One thought on “How to be a Twitter academic

  1. As a Dentist I understand what Sian felt

    The thing is, that social networks, twitter, Instagram, even these blogs, are about being social

    It´s great to build up our on community, it´s a good advice, and I will add another one, learning how to talk to the people who do not share our same field of knowledge

    By building those bridges we can help, teach and learn from more people on twitter or another social network

    Great post

    Grretings from Caracas, Venezuela

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