Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Researchers on Twitter

Twitter-Researchers-Eggs-Feat

I wanted to give some perspective to the amounts of profiles retrieved in my post on finding researchers by searching the bio on their Twitter Profile. If you run a similar search on LinkedIn, where you’re searching the profiles of LinkedIn members’, there are significant differences in the counts of profiles received (see table of results, below).

Counts of Profiles retrieved across platforms

For Followerwonk and LinkedIn, I’ve broken this down into all profiles and those with an Australian location for a comparison:

Taken: 22/3/2015 Twitter: Aussie Twitter Search Twitter: Followerwonk LinkedIn
Terms Australia Australia International Australia International
Research 1,530 5,190 277,321 587,690 23,060,589
Researcher 866 5,190 277,321 33,005 1,400,232
Artist 4,310 11,107 1,082,940 54,827 1,739,894
arts research 15 117 5,191 105,197 4,078,352
“arts research” 4 5 286 471 3,219
Artist Research 7 74 3,228 9,466 300,712
“Artist research” 0 17 394 29 1,173
Artist Researcher 21 74 3,228 355 7,469
“Artist Researcher” 8 17 394 54 855
Health Research 109 476 12,932 161,246 4,930,439
“health research” 11 71 2,032 3,705 55,536
Health Researcher 59 476 12,932 9,298 288,760
“Health Researcher” 16 71 2,032 132 2,496
Engineering Researcher 6 101 8,127 6,764 357,671
“Engineering Researcher” 1 17 1,121 37 1,726
Business Researcher 21 153 7,991 1,813 407853
“Business Researcher” 2 153 593 49 1865
Management Researcher 13 281 12,300 19,921 692,551
“Management Researcher” 1 8 836 35 1,160
Workplace Researcher 0 6 231 1,548 15,660
“Workplace Researcher” 0 1 16 2 9
Environment Research 13 54 1,940 104,659 3,160,959
“Environment Research” 1 4 119 279 7,585
Environment Researcher 7 54 1,940 7,237 238,188
“Environment Researcher” 0 4 119 4 167
Biology Research 7 39 2,192 30,488 1,365,156
“Biology Research” 0 4 281 200 13,264
Conservation Researcher 10 43 1,185 1,552 39,461
“Conservation Researcher” 2 4 130 8 106
Music Researcher 37 105 6,189 3,088 107,764
“Music Researcher” 2 4 280 28 642
Nurse Researcher 7 46 1,613 438 9,404
“Nurse Researcher” 0 8 267 68 800
Nursing Researcher 3 46 1,613 718 17,319
“Nursing Researcher” 0 8 267 5 61
Security Researcher 4 52 4,836 2,315 102,280
“Security Researcher” 1 15 2,245 81 4,733
computer security researcher 0 3 349 894 42,338
“computer security researcher” 0 0 66 7 184
cyber security researcher 0 5 247 118 6,356
“cyber security researcher” 0 0 72 5 231
information security researcher 1 6 395 1321 54,813
“information security researcher” 0 1 115 7 338
Digital Security Researcher 0 1 64 465 18,239
“Digital Security Researcher” 0 0 2 0 4
Computer Researcher 8 71 4,587 465 236,514
“Computer Researcher” 0 0 200 0 129
Psychology Researcher 7 79 3,407 3,253 95,745
“psychology Researcher 2 12 583 62 706
Education Researcher 29 437 16,633 14157 440,171
“Education Researcher” 5 89 3,313 62 1,513

Notes about searching on LinkedIn:

  • You can “search strings” and use search operators (+,-)
  • If you follow the links, you may need to log in to LinkedIn to see each search result (I found this when I was checking them)

Is there a conclusion to be drawn from this?

The differences are quite significant but there are a couple of things to consider with this:

  • Although I’m searching the same terms, the search on LinkedIn has more profile information to search (there are a number of profile fields) whereas Twitter only provides space for a 160 character bio (this is why it’s important to search Twitter by both bio and tweets, so you are covering all bases)
  • Although there are more LinkedIn members, they are more likely to log in less often than Twitter members according to Pew Research Centres 2014 Social Media Update:

Frequency of social media site use NB: Pew Research Center’s Social Media Updates are based on responses from  US participants.

  • Twitter and LinkedIn have different demographic profiles for membership (Pew Research Centres 2014 Social Media Update):

Twitter users NB: Pew Research Center’s Social Media Updates are based on responses from  US participants. Among online adults, the percent who use LinkedIn NB: Pew Research Center’s Social Media Updates are based on responses from  US participants.

  • While LinkedIn members are potentially less active, there are significantly more of them in certain disciplines. Plus:
    • It is still the number one platform for professionals by a clear mile, against all competitors
    • The number of active LinkedIn users in Australia overtook Twitter in May 2011, based on socialmedianew’s calculations: Social Media Statistics Australia, May 2011 and LinkedIn hasn’t looked back

The primary conclusions from this comparison should probably be:

  • Twitter may not be the magic bullet for every researcher and research discipline
  • Make Twitter part of your toolkit, but not your whole toolkit
  • You should also be considering ways you can leverage content you are sharing on Twitter across both platforms. (And why stop there? consider how you can leverage content across all platforms you have a professional presence on: ResearchGate, Academia.edu and more.)
  • In doing that, you do also need to consider how you will attribute outcomes to each of those platforms. How do you determine which platforms (or combinations of actions on platforms) are more likely to lead to the specific outcomes you want (e.g. connections with people in industry, downloads of your papers, views of presentations, citations and more)?

Photo in Header Image: © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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