Social media is ideal for building communities, promoting events and projects and engaging with others. But many people still don’t fully understand how to get the full benefits from it.

Over the last 12 months or so I’ve been scribbling notes on various social media stuff cribbed from Twitter, podcasts, conferences and meetings. In addition the BOU ran a survey of its journal community during 2015 and we took the opportunity to ask them about their social media use. I plan to start bringing some of these notes and thoughts together here on the BOU blog.

I also used some of this for my ‘social media in ornithology’ presentation at EOU2015 – see here.

The BOU has been on Twitter and Facebook for five years. We’ve looked at other platforms but came to the conclusion they weren’t for us. This was backed up by last year’s survey.

Within the social platforms it’s also clear that Facebook is used for personal use and Twitter is used for both personal and professional use. Increasingly so with ornithology and some people are now separating out their personal and professional output on Twitter by having different accounts, or just making sure they’re careful with personal content on an account they use for professional purposes too.

BOU survey social media use

It was interesting that twice the number of people in our community used the so-called ‘social’ platforms over the so-called ‘professional’ ones.

The social platforms are considered more open and dynamic and the professional platforms are used more to find and contact people.

Van Noorden scoial media users TW Van Noorden scoial media users FB
Van Noorden scoial media users RG Van Noorden scoial media users LI Left and right (key below) Figures taken from Van Noorden (2014) who looked at this in his Nature survey of social media use by researchers came to similar conclusions – Twitter used both passively and actively; Facebook with only a small number using it professionally; and ResearchGate and LinkedIn more passive than active and a feeling of they should because others do about it.
Van Noorden scoial media users 3

We use both Twitter and Facebook, and it’s true that there are more ornithology researchers on Twitter than on Facebook, and Twitter is a much more open and dynamic platform. Facebook does however have its uses. Facebook users seem not to get on with Twitter so there is relatively little overlap (that’s what we’ve found in ornithology anyway) so you are increasing audience by cross-posting content from Twitter to Facebook.

Facebook is also good for groups. You can set up a page (as we have for our general Facebook output) or a group (as we have for our BOU ECR members). There are other ornithology groups on there too e.g. Early Career Seabird Group). Although you can set up #hashtags on Twitter to group content, Facebook groups are even more focused and highly manageable.

At the end of 2016 we set up an Instagram account (@IBIS_journal) as more and more researchers were establishing ornithology content on the platform. This is aimed at reaching new people who aren’t on Twitter or Facebook. We feature some of the more interesting ornithology paper and stories and look forward to this platform becoming increasingly important for us.

If you’re after ornithology then Twitter, followed by Facebook and Instagram, should cater very well for you. But if your interests are broader then trialling different platforms such as Flickr might be worth your while, Flickr especially if you’re heavily in to photography.

Find us on . . . Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Further reading

Social media use in the research workflow
Rowlands et al. 2011. Learned Publishing

Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network
Van Noorden. 2014. Nature. [Open Access/Open Data]

Quantifying the role of online news in linking conservation research to Facebook and Twitter
Papworth et al. 2015. Conservation Biology

More social media blogs and content from the BOU

Twitter #masterclass 1 – #hashtags and retweets
Twitter #masterclass 2 – stop using auto-generated tweets
Twitter #masterclass 3 – editing and structuring your tweets
Twitter #masterclass 4 – organise your incoming tweets
Twitter #masterclass 5 – content is everything
Twitter #masterclass 6 – #hashtag best practice
Twitter #masterclass 7 – using images – best practice
Twitter #masterclass 8 – conference tweeting (for delegates, presenters and organisers)
Twitter #masterclass 9 – Twitter basics 1: terminology
Twitter #masterclass 10 – Twitter basics 2: replying to tweets
Twitter #masterclass 11 – Twitter basics 3: retweets and quotes
Presentations from the BOU’s ‘social media in ornithology’ workshop at #EOU2015
Making social media and the web work for you
Social media is relevant to your research
The benefits of blogging about your research
What is Altmetric?
What do you mean you ‘don’t know how to optimize your paper for SEO?!
Twitter – building an online ornithological community
The global ornithological online community
Ornithological Twitterati, Tweetie-pies and #birdieluv


Blog with #theBOUblog

If you want to write about your research in #theBOUblog, then please see here.