GET A TWITTER ACCOUNT. And while you’re at it, sign up for every social media platform, even if you don’t intend to use them. Here’s why: you’ll secure your user name of choice (good for branding purposes to keep these consistent); you’ll have a history with the tool when you do go to use it (which helps your profile show up in search results); and you’ll start making connections, even if you aren’t actively massaging those connections. Remember that not everyone is on any single social media channel, so having a presence on them all will assure that no potential collaborators fall through the cracks. As with the bulk of the tips in this series, this is actually less about promotion and more about presence — making sure that you’re only one mouse click away from a potential editor, colleague, or co-author.
But why the Twitter account in particular? Twitter is actually one of the lowest-maintenance platforms you can engage with. Just write your mini profile, upload a picture and off you go. The best way to engage is to log on at certain times (or leave Twitter open while you work) and just dip in to read tweets and chat with others when you have time. You may never keep up if you try to read all the tweets so it’s best to think of it as listening in on a live conversation. In fact liveness is key to Twitter, many people think of it as a place you send boring life updates, but it’s much more of a discussion space – like an Instant Messenger but where (potentially) the whole world is listening.
Twitter also boasts a number of live chats that provide space to discuss a range of academic conundrums, which will also help you build an almost-instant network of supportive peers. Check out #phdchat for all things PhD, #digped for discussions on teaching in the digital age, #acwri for academic writing, #ecrchat for issues pertinent to early career researchers and #scholarsunday for recommendations on who to follow. Finally, if you teach, consider finding ways to incorporate twitter into your pedagogy.