A participant in The Digital Researcher – a course I am running this week raised an excellent point about Twitter engagement and I’ve decided to elaborate on it further here.
When trying to engage with wider audiences, it is really important to use relevant hashtags # and perhaps event @tag in other relevant accounts.
This is essential, particularly when you are trying to engage with wider audiences from an account without many followers – or without followers from the right demographics. A typical example may be that all of your followers are academic peers – and not the public you want to engage. So how do you reach new audiences?
A lot of this comes down to identifying the right hashtags that link posts on similar topics together. Hashtags can be:
- Based on a subject: #HigherEd #Geography
- Topical/news-based: #HumberFloods #Brexit
- Check out Trendsmap to see what is happening where you are
- Event based: #ALDcon #DigiResHull
- Tweet-chat based: #LTHEchat #MSFTEdu
While people may not follow you, they may be searching for these hashtags, or using apps to follow them. It’s is therefore important to identify hashtags that your target audiences may be using. Hitting Google for this isn’t a bad idea, for example, a search for: Best hashtags for education provides some excellent results. There are also some useful websites focused on helping you with this:
One prime way to build your audience is with the use of topical hashtags. For example, if you research in politics and you have conducted some research relevant to it, #Brexit is an excellent choice (event if you hate the hashtag). These tags don’t have to be very broad. For example, the last set of flooding in the Humber estuary used #HumberFloods – an excellent tag for hydrologists, geographers and anyone else working in related fields.
Local or specialist media is an excellent way to identify topical discussions here you are based. For us in Hull, the Hull Daily Mail and the Yorkshire Post may be good places for you to start. If you can apply your research to a topic here – you’ll be reaching a new public audience. Directly replying to posts from such media channels, including television is an excellent way to identify yourself as an expert. A lot of big news channels now traul Twitter to recruit experts rather than approaching university departments.
You just need to remember to use them!