Live-blogging: Academics as social media curators

One of the benefits to using social media as an academic and researcher can be taking part in a larger, shared conversation. Especially when we are first dipping our toes into such a vast ocean of online content, it can be extremely helpful to have some helpful role models and guides to show us the way.

During this session of #SocialMediaPhD, our experts Mark Carrigan, Inger Mewburn (Thesis Whisperer) and Pat Thomson (patter) shared some of the tools and methods that work for them:

How do you keep up with online content? @thesiswhisperer shares some of her favorite apps for reading, curating content @Flipboard which connects nicely with cross-platform apps such as @Pocket #SocialMediaPhD @TheSocReview (note @mark_carrigan on Inger’s Flipboard feed) #meta pic.twitter.com/8IGf46sIad — Tyler Shores (@tylershores) December 8, 2018

One of the collective themes throughout this session was how Mark, Inger, and Pat are mindful of their audiences and use their social media accounts as a means of content curation — both for their own work and interests, as well as what their audiences might be interested in reading and sharing.

For the Thesis Whisperer, perhaps social media can be thought of as a radio broadcast — you’ll reach different listeners/users at different times while they dip in out and of being online, while they are doing different things:

What do you want your feed to look like? @thesiswhisperer likes to think of her twitter feed as a radio station of PhD students. Mainly dance floor hits, occasionally shout outs, and also giving some overnight tunes and commuter time entertainment! #socialmediaphd #phdchat #phd — The Sociological Review (@TheSocReview) December 8, 2018

When there are myriad options of tools to use, how do we decide what to be using for our own everyday social media use? Usability, the ability to link across different accounts and services, and overall user-friendliness can be important factors to consider. As with many things online, things can change quickly (for example, one of my favorite 3rd party Twitter apps can stop being useful practically overnight).

It can be quite a chore to keep abreast of what’s new while also learning about more tried and true methods for content curation. Having a spirit of exploration and experimentation can help:

@thesiswhisperer sometimes tries it out for a few months and refines to make it work for her. @ThomsonPat gives up quick, don’t waste time if it doesn’t work for you. But remember says @mark_carrigan, you don’t have to use everything! Lots of tools do similar jobs #SocialMediaPhD — The Sociological Review (@TheSocReview) December 8, 2018

Flipboard is one example of a great, free, cross-platform app that allows you to cull a variety of online sources of information into a slick, magazine-style reading experience.

(And you can follow the Thesis Whisperer on Flipboard)


Sometimes this can also mean using other platforms that we know well, in creative new ways. I think a few of us were intrigued about Pat Thomson’s use of Pinterest as a research tool (you can follow Pat Thomson on Pinterest here)!

I need to take a leaf out of @ThomsonPat’s book and use Pinterest for research purposes. Because I mostly use it for collecting pictures of sausages. #SocialMediaPhD pic.twitter.com/ZBltmQtGH4 — Kim Harding (@sacralised) December 8, 2018

Facebook groups, both open and private groups, can be another useful resource for scholarly communities. Such groups are particularly useful as online forums and you’ll frequently find questions and discussion put forth to the hive mind:


Let’s face it: social media can unfortunately be a nasty, unpleasant environment from time to time. There are also communities (just a few examples through hashtags that you can visit: #WIASN, #PhDChat, #ECRChat), which can be powerful sources of inspiration and support for academics and people of all kinds.

What about getting support? Closed groups on FB are particularly important for this kind of peer support, says @ThomsonPat and @thesiswhisperer. In a fragmented world, @mark_carrigan sees this kind of support is form of collective action #SocialMediaPhD — The Sociological Review (@TheSocReview) December 8, 2018

And finally, be sure to check out Julia Hayes‘ wonderful live-drawing which captured these topics!

Thanks, @emlouspeer. Here are some photos from later in the day. Really interesting discussions, and it is amazing what @julia_inclusion can capture in a few hours…! Hope all is well up at UEA #SocialMediaPhD pic.twitter.com/mfGPbWpzkf — Zoe Walshe (@ZoeWalshe) December 8, 2018

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