UW Graduate School

January 10, 2017

The grad student’s social media starter pack

Is it really worthwhile for grad students aspiring to academics or industry to have a social media presence? What should my social media presence look like? — Social media un-savvy 

Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out! Ultimately, I think the only answer to this is: it depends. It depends on your schedule, your priorities, your skills, your preferences… It depends on you, and what you want out of your academic journey and future career.

What I can do for you is give you a few ideas of why you might want to start a social media presence and a few arguments in the other direction. I’ll also lay out some tips and resources for starting a social media presence, should you care to do so. I’ll focus on Twitter and LinkedIn, since these are the social media sites used most in the academic and business context.

A few reasons why you might start a Twitter:  

  • Twitter allows you to connect with large communities of academics. This can mean a lot of different benefits: the sharing of resources and strategies for managing your graduate education, the sharing of sources and research ideas, and making connections with others in your field or with similar interests.
  • It’s an excellent opportunity to talk about your research in laypeople’s terms, and engage with a public audience. You might even find a new angle for your research!
  • You can follow discussions that happen at conferences, even if you can’t attend. You could also live-tweet an event, and connect with other people at the same conference.
  • A well-maintained Twitter presence can impress an employer.

A few reasons why you might NOT want a Twitter:

  • It can be a distraction
  • Your schedule is packed: you already have too many obligations to manage
  • Your discipline doesn’t have a large social media presence
  • You don’t enjoy it, even a little bit.

On a side note, starting a Twitter is a big time-commitment: daily updates are the norm. Bear in mind that starting a Twitter and then never using it looks, well, kind of sloppy.  

A few reasons to start a LinkedIn:

  • It’s a great way to advertise your skills, experience and achievements!
  • You can connect with recruiters regarding employment opportunities
  • You can connect with people in your industry, or alumna of your alma mater. Some people use this feature to set up informational interviews, which can make for an excellent networking opportunity.

The reasons for not starting a LinkedIn are similar to those against Twitter. However, a LinkedIn page is much easier to maintain than a Twitter account (Twitter requires daily checking and posting, LinkedIn does not).

I hope this helps you discern whether or not you want to start a Twitter or LinkedIn page. If you’ve decided to jump into the social media waters, good for you! Here are some resources to help you get started.

Twitter:

The 10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics
Social media for academics
10 Great Twitter Chats for Grad Students
Blog post: The Tweeting Grad Student
Academic twitter accounts to check out: Shit Academics Say; Steven R. Shaw; Kate Starbird; Calling Bullshit (run by two UW professors); Clint Smith; Lego Grad Student

LinkedIn:

LinkedIn 101: How to Craft a Stellar Profile
Via UW Professional & Continuing Education: 10 Tips for Supercharging your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn for graduate students: how to market yourself on the net (This post is old, and kind of long, but it’s a really comprehensive guide to building a marketing strategy on LinkedIn!)
31 Best LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers

Best of luck! And be sure to follow The Graduate School on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @uwgradschool.

Sincerely,
The Grad School Guru