Developing Your Digital Scholarly Brand Pt. I – Becoming a Lit Twitter Scholar
I don’t know about you, but when I began this journey I had NO CLUE how to establish myself as an emerging scholar within my field and any intersecting areas. It’s year one, semester one, and publications do not exist. The ideas are there—although not as well developed—but, they are still worthy of investigating. Y’all, I was stressed and pressed beyond words.
Too often there is this narrative that if you aren’t writing and publishing, you’re not productive and will not be as successful as your [YTE] peers. Let me tell you now, you gone be alright!
If you came to this site, most likely you already know of the power of social media. What you may not know is that it can be fertile ground to progress and inform your research. Most importantly, it can allow for you to establish a DIGITAL SCHOLARLY BRAND that will connect you with future collaborators, prominent scholars in the field, as well as open the doors for speaking and publishing opportunities.
In this first of two posts I will provide tips that should help you to establish and cultivate your digital scholarly brand on Twitter. The second post will focus specifically on developing a website. Both, while highly interconnected, are and should be distinct; being strategic is essential. More importantly, Twitter has become a significant space where scholars are connecting in this ever-growing digital age.
Alright, so is y’all ready? Kool! Here are my 8-Steps to becoming a Lit Twitter Scholar:
1. CREATE A SEPARATE TWITTER ACCOUNT FROM YOUR PERSONAL ONE
There’s nothing wrong with having a ratchet side (let’s face it, we all love us some Cardi), but there are some things that we don’t want a future employer knowing about us. So, make your current profile (if you have one) private and start a new account.
This new account should either be your name or tied to your academic interests (e.g. @BlkSTEMeducator, @istudygenes215, @Blkmalefeminist706). There’s nothing wrong with still having some sort of individual identity (put your area code in the profile), but make sure it’s something that you can put on a business card and is easy to remember.
2. SETUP YOUR PROFILE TO REFLECT YOUR ACADEMIC & PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS
Profile Photo: Be sure to have either a professional headshot or a clear image of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to appropriate yourself to any of the annoying respectability politics that diminishes individuality—hey, my own profile picture is certainly one where I am giving off ANTM smizing—but you also have to face the fact that we, as people of color, are ALWAYS going to be judged more critically on our appearance. Pick something you feel best represents who you want to be perceived as by other scholars.
Header Logo: This is where you can be creative or really push your BRAND. I’ve seen some dope images of books that scholars are reading that tie into their area of research interests. You can also hop on over to Canva (http://www.canva.com) and design a logo for FREE-99! Some people also put up pictures from a panel or presentation they have given. The choice is yours, just make sure everything ties into who you are and what your academic interests are.
List Your Receipts: Make sure your name has your credentials in it (not your profile name, but the place where you put your name). If you already have a master’s or any form of certification then LET THEM KNOW! Also, under the bio space you want to be sure to include what degree you’re pursuing (MA/MS/MFA, PsyD/EdD/PhD, etc.), what institution/college (put their handle here too), what you’re study/pursuing career-wise (mine says “Future Sport Sociologist”, any affiliations (Greek or others), and causes (#BLM or #MeToo for example). This is a great space to do an elevator pitch of who you are and what you’re about.
3. DEVELOP A CATALOG OF KEY SCHOLARS AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Now that your profile is all setup it’s time to head on out and find some people to strategically follow. How do you do this? First make a list of the scholars you have cited or read recently. Also look at the people they follow. If you are brand new to graduate school and still don’t know that many people in your field or are still discovering what your field is, that’s ok! Tweet the JTG account and we’ll retweet yours. Pretty soon you’ll have a community of scholars with suggestions. Make sure you only follow accounts that are public. Some senior scholars have personal accounts and only use it for that.
You also want to follow any professional organizations and relevant special interest groups (SIGs) that are tied to your area of study. These are great accounts where you can find peers and other scholars who are doing research in your area. These accounts are also great at disseminating information on conferences, journal submission calls, among other important topics that may be relevant to current events and/or the field.
4. CULTIVATE SUBJECT/THEME LISTS
Once you have started to develop a good number of people and accounts to follow, you want to start cultivating subject and theme lists of accounts. This will allow you to focus in on what’s happening with a particular group or subject area. For example, my broad research interest is sport sociology. One of my areas of interest is Black males. So, I have a list of scholars who research that area. Another example could be accounts that tweet about relevant research topics Pew Research Center (@pewresearch), NCAA Research (@ncaaresearch), Center for Black Male Achievement (@BMSchievement) and Write That PhD (@WriteThatPhD) are just a few accounts that have tweets where I find some gems on the regular. You’d be surprised how much support you can get when you’re trying to write a paper, look for some information on a topic, or even where to find books on a subject. As your following/ers grow, these lists will too.
Don’t forget to even check if the people you follow have any lists of their own that you may want to subscribe to. Should you even make it to someone’s list…you then know you’ve established yourself as a source of information.
5. PROMOTE YOURSELF AND YOUR PROGRESS
Don’t fall into the trap of just liking and retweeting other people’s tweets; you need to tweet yourself. Some of the things I have found helpful is to tweet out quotes from books and articles that I’ve found to be powerful.
Another important thing to do is to communicate your accomplishments and progress throughout your journey. Take pictures at conferences and presentations, tweet about things you’ve learned, tweet the organizations and conference accounts when you’re there too. If you get a manuscript or abstract that’s been accepted, tweet that and tag the journal or conference. What will usually happen is they will retweet it. This exposes you and your work to a broader audience, causing others to come to your page, follow you, and hopefully (re)tweet you.
6. ENGAGE IN TWITTER CHATS
I cannot tell you how important and useful it is and will be when you take an hour or so out of your week—maybe even two or three times a week—and engage with other scholars and peers around the globe in themed Twitter chats. These are great places to expand your following, increase your network, obtain additional resources and knowledge, as well as connect with senior scholars whom you may not otherwise get to connect with except for a conference setting. You also get to showcase what you know about topics and can even get help with unpacking ideas you have about your own research. TRUST ME…they are worth your time!
7. DEVISE SOME HASHTAGS
I know…I know, it sounds real trendy and Kardashian-ish but hashtags are a great way to grab attention and show emphasis. Let’s not forget, the Black Lives Matter movement start from a hashtag. With these you can join in on larger conversations, expand your reach and network, and more importantly, you have the ability to start your own movement or cause. I, myself, have been (re)tweeting posts and images that emphasize the success of Black males throughout society with the #BlackMalesAchieving hashtag.
Remember, tailor your hashtags with some others that are related to your research interests and to tap on other hashtags to see additional tweets that have posted them. Again, another way to grow your network and extend your reach.
8. STAY CONSISTENT
The most important thing to remember is STAY CONSISTENT. If you aren’t a great social media person then schedule the time in for an hour a day. With most mobile devices you can easily tweet right from your phone, laptop, or computer. Even articles you find can be tweeted right from your computer (well…I know Mac’s can, I’m not about the PC life anymore). The worst thing you can do is put all this work into creating your profile and getting things started and barely use it. People who come across your account want to see that you’re engaged, have followers (and are following others). It’s about mutual benefits. Above all, it’s about exposing you as the emerging scholar that you are.
Well, hopefully these steps have you feeling like you can go out and be a Lit Twitter Scholar too! It may see like it’s a lot, but please believe me when I tell you that it’ll not only be worth it, it will become addictive.
As I mentioned, this is just the first post on developing a DIGITAL SCHOLARLY BRAND. My next post will build off this and help you create a website that can highlight your brand, integrating your social media and scholarship.
Feel free to connect with me (@marquesdexter) and let me know if you have any further questions, in need of suggestions, or have additional tips to share.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marques R. Dexter is a Sport Management & Policy Ph.D. student at University of Georgia, where he also obtained his M.S. from the same program. A native of Philadelphia, he obtained his BSBA in Sport Management from Robert Morris University. His research looks at the identities and experiences of academically & athletically high-achieving African American/Black male athletes.