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Social Media

screenshot of the Boise State twitter
Visit Boise State’s twitter for examples of research and creative activities communications.

Thanks to social media, it has never been easier to share scholarship with a broad audience. According to a report published by Hootsuite and We Are Social in 2022, 4.62 billion people are on social media (that’s equivalent to 58% of the world’s total population).

However, social media comes with its own unique sets of challenges. Perhaps you have wondered: which platform is best for your uses; how often should your post; how to handle trolls; how can you get better visuals for your research?

Here are some tips we recommend for faculty and students sharing their scholarship on social media.

screenshot of Boise State's instagram account

Tip 1: Know the Differences in Platforms

Each social media platform has its own unique use cases and audiences, and these audiences do change over time. While there are dozens of platforms (Youtube, Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat, etc) we will focus on the four platforms that Boise State implements for university-level research communications. For more research about the trends of social media today, read the Pew Research Center report on Social Media Use in 2021.

Also remember: you don’t need to be on every platform. Just pick one that suits your style and post regularly (multiple times per week).

  • Twitter: Sees heavy research engagement, especially by funding institutions like NSF, NIH,  and research journals, etc.  However due to the platform’s algorithm, posts are relatively short-lived, and only stay towards the top of a feed for about 15 minutes, so posting and reposting is very important. Here is a useful guide on sharing science via Twitter.
  • LinkedIn: From the Pew Research Center, “Those with higher levels of education are again more likely than those with lower levels of educational attainment to report being LinkedIn users. Roughly half of adults who have a bachelor’s or advanced degree (51%) say they use LinkedIn, compared with smaller shares of those with some college experience (28%) and those with a high school diploma or less (10%).” From the Boise State angle, LinkedIn posts related to business, economy, tech, and Idaho industry-related research do particularly well.
  • Instagram: This platform thrives on visual content. From the Boise State angle, this platform sees a lot of engagement from prospective students, and research posts with strong visuals and video content do very well.
  • Facebook: “Facebook’s growth has leveled off over the last five years, but it remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States: 69% of adults today say they ever use the site.” From the Boise State angle, this platform does not see as much positive engagement as Instagram or Twitter.

Tip 2: Post Like a Pro

  1. Post early in the morning (around 7 or 8 a.m.). Posting late in the evening or after work hours means that it will probably receive more engagement from people halfway around the world than locally.
  2. Cross promote research that interests you – social media is all about connection, your feed should be diverse and include reposts of peers’ research, etc.
  3. Use # and @ to include people who helped complete the research, such as peers, funders, publishers, institutions with similar interests, etc. Here are some frequently used hashtags at Boise State: #NSFfunded, #WomeninSTEM, #BoiseState, #HigherEducation.
  4. Keep accessibility in mind: Use Alt Text and closed captions. Most social media platforms offer the capability to include alt text, which makes content more accessible by describing images so people with vision loss can understand what is displayed on the screen. Describe the image using simple, short terms. Automatic video captioning is available on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and should be used when verbal language is used in the video. Make sure you preview this auto-captioning before publishing, as it can make mistakes.
  5. Keep it visual: include photos, especially ones with people! Research published in Sage Journals revealed that in a marketing context, visuals and imagery do significantly impact engagements with posts. There are many free and easy to use tools to help build visuals for your social media spaces.
  6. Repost: Lifespans of posts are short on social media, so don’t be afraid to repost something multiple times per week, and give your audience a greater opportunity to interact with it.
  7. Engage: If someone leaves a useful or positive comment on your post, engage with it. Essentially, reward people for taking the time to share your post, or comment on your research.

Who to contact with questions