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Best Practices

What’s in a hashtag? How to use hashtags strategically on Twitter

If you use social media, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a hashtag. Hashtags on Twitter are essentially a tool for “tagging” your tweets so they appear alongside other tweets about the same topic. If you are managing an institutional (or personal) academic Twitter account, using hashtags strategically can help you expand your audience by interjecting your voice into existing conversations.

But, when is it appropriate to use a hashtag, and how do you decide how many of your 280 characters to dedicate to them? When should you use an existing hashtag, and when is it a good idea to create your own?

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Best Practices

Dos and Don’ts on LinkedIn

As Social Mediums, we discuss at length the use of different online media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook or a personal website, for sharing scholarly work, networking, and collaborating. Recently, we explored another popular social media platform for professionals – LinkedIn. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is used mostly for professional networking and job opportunities. Since many recruiters and peers will be looking at your profile, it’s important that your online presence is well prepared. 

In this post, we present the dos and don’ts on LinkedIn.

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Best Practices

Ask the kids! Looking to research on child development in digital contexts to create a value-based model for social media use

As Program Social Media Fellows, one of our goals is to advocate for the use of social media as an academic medium to foster community and scholarly discourse. We strive to demonstrate how social media can be used to share information about recent publications and upcoming events. But how can we portray the significance of this medium to those who are skeptical about its benefits? How can we respond to those who tell us social media is just going to eat away at time they don’t even have or that it lacks academic gravitas? Rather than simply pleading for the creation of Twitter accounts, how can we communicate the benefits of social media and debunk some of the stigma surrounding it?

As an Educational Psychology PhD student who is interested in digital technology as a context for child development and how digital mediums such as video games can promote learning, I have been thinking about how my research can inform the use of social media within an academic environment. Can we combat some of the bias and skepticism surrounding social media by looking to research on the relationship between digital technology use and learning or well-being? Would making this connection allow us to create a value-based model for effective social media use within an academic context?

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Best Practices

The Power of Pausing Social Media

This week, Instagramers noticed a new tool on the digital platform. Instagram now offers its users the opportunity to press pause on all notifications for a set amount of time. With this update, any user can stop receiving push notifications for 15 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or 8 hours. This way, constant updates on posts, stories, messages, etc. do not appear on your screen, unless you decide to open the Instagram app directly on your phone. Therefore, when you have an important task at hand or when you simply want to enjoy time away from the screen, you can now choose to reduce the amount of interaction that you have with the platform.

This, indeed, brings an important topic to mind: our social addiction to screen time. Last year, Social Media Today published an article addressing the question of How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media? Unsurprisingly for some, on average “teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms” while “the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media everyday, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.” Overstimulation, sleep disruption, online harassment, and poor concentration are only some of the effects associated with heavy use of Social Media. Everytime we choose to enter the world of Social Media we are exposed to these factors- the longer we stay on, the greater the risk.  

As a doctoral student, I know plenty of peers who choose to deactivate their accounts to focus on their work. Others, feel the need to turn off their phones altogether when heavily immersed in their research. Thus, it is promising to see social media platforms recognize the need to disconnect, if only momentarily. It is true that, while many phones have allowed users to block notifications from a particular application, not many allow one to simply pause these, and recommence them at a later time. Also, certain applications allow the user to mute notifications, yet these are usually messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Messenger. This option is especially useful at times when the conversation does not involve the user or when the user is not interested in what is being said. Yet, for a social media platform like Instagram, whose main goal is to grasp the public’s attention through an endless amount of photos and videos, the motive for offering a pause option seems to speak to different needs.

By allowing users to pause their interaction with the platforms, these may not only promote a healthy life for their users but even put their own interests aside. Instead of focusing on providing a data gold mine for companies, they seem to be making a greater effort at providing functional and convenient services to its users when needed. We can, as a result, access Social Media at a set time and, perhaps, take advantage of the helpful features offered by the platform, instead of wastefully navigating for hours its sometimes turbulent, never-ending, and mind-numbing content.

Follow these steps to pause Instagram:

1. Press the ≡ (menu) button

2. Press the ⚙️ (settings) button

3. Press the 🔔 (notifications) button

4. Press the “pause all” button

5. Choose a time

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Best Practices

5 Simple Ways for Faculty to Engage Online & Boost their Department’s Digital Presence

Digital and social media platforms provide new and exciting opportunities for scholars to network, collaborate, and share their work. For academic departments, they’re also great ways to give an inside view and attract new applicants. Yet, a department’s social media work, in many ways, is only as good as that of its faculty and students. A truly thriving departmental social media profile depends on interacting with faculty and students via their own digital platforms. I want to share five simple ways that faculty, in particular, can help themselves and their department shine. Pick one or two to get started!

If you want a more hands-on introduction to some of these strategies, join us on February 28, 6:30-8:30pm, for a workshop on “Developing a Scholarly Profile with Social Media”.

1. Google Scholar profile

For a scholar building a bibliography, or a prospective student researching faculty members, Google Scholar may be the first place they go for more information about you after perusing the department’s website. By claiming your Google Scholar profile, you can identify all your publications, link them to your profile, and keep track of how others are citing your work. Overall, it helps prospective students and anyone else find you and your work.

2. CUNY Academic Commons profile

The CUNY Academic Commons is our in-house WordPress blog platform for students, staff, and faculty to use for personal scholarly work or class projects. If you don’t want to create a personal blog (although it’s not a bad idea!), a smaller project would be to register on the Commons and create a profile that lists basic information and provides contact information and links to any other platforms you use. In Matt Gold’s profile below, he has linked to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, ORCID, and his personal website. Even if you don’t have many other platforms, establishing your Commons profile is a good step towards raising your online visibility.

3. CUNY Academic Works

CUNY Academic Works is a compelling alternative to Academia.edu for storing digital versions of your research and making them accessible to all. Like the benefits of claiming your Google Scholar profile, uploading your work on CUNY Academic Works makes it more discoverable by search engines and it is given a persistent URL to ensure long-term access. PLUS, as a project of the CUNY Libraries, it differs from a for-profit site like Academia.edu in that it will never sell your data or ask you to upgrade to the premium version. For copyright questions, you can turn to a search engine called Sherpa/Romeo (see example below) to figure out which version of your publication the publisher will allow you to distribute freely (e.g. pre-print, post-print, publisher’s version, etc.).

4. ORCID iD (Open Researcher and Contributor ID)

Claiming your ORCID iD is another easy way to control the information linked to your digital scholarly identity. Taking the 30 seconds it takes to sign up for this persistent identifier allows you to eliminate any ambiguity with other people with the same or similar names and streamline how your work links to you. Find out more about ORCID here.

5. Facebook Page or Twitter Account

Finally, if you want to go beyond simply controlling what’s already out there and want to engage with different public audiences or produce more content, consider starting a Facebook Page or Twitter account. The Facebook Page is different from a Facebook Profile; it allows you to present yourself as a scholar and, again, be more findable via google searches. You have to have a Personal Profile to create a Page, but whereas the Personal Profile is more private, the Page is public-facing. See the example of Anthropology Professor Bianca Williams’s page below.

Twitter accounts can also help you engage with a variety of audiences. As in the example below, having a Twitter account allows your departmental page to tag you and funnel attention to your work.