Twitter in academia: Ten simple rules for getting started on Twitter as a scientist

I am flummoxed, regularly, by the articles of this nature published in the scientific journals. I am not suggesting that opinion pieces like these shouldn’t be welcome but ask yourself an honest question. How does the social media presence help you?

I am still constrained by the thought process of 280 character limit. Twitter was designed to share “news” and I remember well that its USP was “real-time search”. That USP isn’t valid anymore. Google, for some time, also indexed the search results on its home page. They design the algorithms to “promote” advertisements around what “people are talking”.

The whole idea of “academia” appears twisted unless you have a megaphone. It is plain simple marketing that overwhelms pushing you in the state of unordained frenzy. I’d rather blog than waste time to see if the tweet impressions have gone up or retweets have had any effect.

I’d be more impressed with a scientist who’d juggle real skills with the tradecraft than with someone has “followers”. There’s a whole shitload of lexicon around it- “organic followers”, inorganic growth, influencers and what not. Twitter isn’t good for the mental health- I’d caution a healthy dose of skepticism around this medium.

Learn to automate it instead.

As with any other aspect of human life, Twitter has trade-offs between quantity and quality. It is, unfortunately, a frequent practice to retweet any content spread by one’s collaborators or friends without even reading it. This allows users with high numbers of followers to gain further attention with minimal effort in a kind of “snowball” effect. But chasing after numbers in this or other ways (e.g. tweeting with lots of hashtags in order to maximize your number of followers) is typically a short-sighted strategy, as Twitter is also inhabited by a large number of bots (automated accounts) which will tend to follow you and instead of contributing to your networking efforts, distract you by flooding you with a lot of unwanted content.

Ten simple rules for getting started on Twitter as a scientist