How I Use Academic Twitter
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Twitter has always been my go-to for news and entertainment. Since I’ve been active on Twitter, #BlackTwitter (in particular) has come through as my little ShadeRoom and NPR all in one. I can sit for hours reading thinkpiece threads on hot topics and unpopular opinions, scrolling to watch #TweetsfromtheDecade, learn about some new products and tea. Allat.
However lately, as a grad student and young professional (if you will), I see the power and potential past entertainment. In this post, I share some reasons to either join the Twitter community altogether or to revamp your Twitter to see yourself win in academia!
Okay. So, what’s the hype?
How I Use Academic Twitter
Much like my personal Twitter, I use and think of my academic Twitter as a place for affirmation. To me, academic twitter is space for graduate students and established scholars, alike, to learn, to reflect, to vent and to celebrate each other as we take it day-by-day or deadline-by-deadline.
Any given day that I hop on Twitter, I look forward to seeing other graduate students share about their latest article acceptance letter or professors’ advocate for self-preservation. It’s a blend of again.. The Shade Room and NPR.. but the voices are a little more concerned with being politically correct and many of us study the issues discussed on both platforms.
One way that I use Academic Twitter is to connect both virtually and in-person with people and organizations internationally. When I was applying to graduate school, I reached out to current students at MSU via Twitter and learned so much about the campus via their tweets and later interactions. A couple years back, Girls Who Code reached out to me via Twitter to volunteer at a summer program.
I also use Academic Twitter as an educational resource. I learn about national and local conferences, as well as calls for proposals. Some scholars share blog posts and presentations on research methods. I’ve learned different things about the IRB process, about travel funds, about the new directions of my field all through Twitter. Stuff you won’t always learn about in courses or lab meetings.
Like we use any other social media, Academic Twitter is also great for celebrating you and your research. As mentioned earlier, many people use Twitter to celebrate reaching new milestones like paper acceptances.. But also small wins like writing 100 words for the day or having that hard conversation with guidance committee members. The safe and transparent atmosphere also encourages folks to share rejection letters and bad days to normalize failure and caring about our well-being before scholarship.
Tips for Getting Started
I was introduced to the idea of a professional Twitter back in 2015, when I was still an engineering undergrad. At that time, I had no idea how to use Twitter for making connections, how to become more knowledgeable in my field or how to be comfortable about this virtual community.
Despite your industry or vocation, here are a few ways to get started on Twitter:
Follow three companies or organizations you would work for, three conferences you would attend, three CEOs you admire, three people you may already know.
Spend a couple minutes scrolling these profile’s following and followers. What do you notice about the people? Are there hashtags you are seeing constantly? Are you coming across other people and accounts you would like to follow?
I always suggest taking a moment to read other people’s bios and posts.
What do they tweet about? What do they share? This strategy will begin to give you ideas about the space and community Academic Twitter is and can be for you. It is also a way to begin constructing your Twitter persona based on what you read in other people’s bios and posts. But more importantly, this is how you will begin to build the communities you want to be a part of.
Retweet and like until you’re comfortable posting.
A couple months ago, one of my colleagues got a Twitter a couple months ago and she didn’t know what to say. For context, she is in her mid 30s, has 3 children and does not do social media. My best advice to her was to retweet until she is comfortable tweeting.
To retweet is re-posting a tweet -- someone else’s or your own. This suggests you relate to the post but it wasn’t your original thought and it shows appears in your tweets. Another action is to like a post, which also suggests you relate to a post but would rather like it to appear in your tweets.
To this day, I am not one to post a lot on either of my Twitters.. but I do retweet, like and share all day -- and still feel part of the academic community.
Be who you want to be.
What I notice most about Academic Twitter, is that in both implicit and explicit ways, it reflects the growing diversity of people and thought in academia. I love seeing so many Black, Chico/a, women, queer, Indigenous folks being themselves, engaging in their hobbies, talking their **** and still doing the work. I love it! People talk in their lingo, they post pictures of their family and friends, they share about the stupidity of their peers, they ask for donations.. they just tweet about life. And I invite you to do the same.
Whether you are creating a new account, or being more intentional about revamping your current account-- Twitter is the goat for growing as a well-rounded academic and person.
If you don’t already, follow me on Twitter for some grad school inspiration and to possibly browse my followers and following lists!
I would love to know how you use Academic Twitter and if it is helping grow as a scholar.