Research on social media – Same food, different plates?

It is encouraging to see researchers on social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn … etc. In the past, it was challenging to get them in social media. They were totally focused on scholarly/scientific journals. Because that was (still is) what counts to their career. Thanks to the wider promotion of use of social media for research, now we can see many researchers and research institutions on social media.

While it is greatly appreciated to get connected in social media, posting the same paper in the same format in different social media may not be an effective research communication strategy. We usually observe researchers who simply post link to their scientific paper (PDF) or attach their published paper in Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. If their intention is to notify their colleagues about the news that they have published those papers, it will be fine.

But if their intention is to communicate a key message/finding from their paper using the social media, then they need to tell us their main findings in a few sentences or in a picture form. If they simply lead us to their scientific paper, then their use of social media will be “same food, different plate.” Changing the plate doesn’t change the taste of a food. Researchers using social media have to repackage their message to a simpler form that fits with the requirements of the media and the needs of their followers.