At the science communications workshop held by the Delta Stewardship Council today in Sacramento, I had a chance to speak to postdocs and graduate students about how social media tools can benefit a research career. You can read my notes in my recent post, Social Media: A Virtual “School of Athens” for Researchers.
Afterwards, Dr. Lauren Hastings, deputy executive officer for the council, said it would be great to see a visualization of how social media tools like Twitter can amplify messages and reach.
So I tinkered a bit with some of the retweets that came as a result of the “School of Athens” blogpost, and created this snapshot of how the link traveled around the globe:
Basically, by tweeting the link of my blogpost, I was able to share my message with networks outside of my own. My link was shared by Bora Zivkovic, whose network is immense. And in turn, the link was shared by Twitter users in Greece, Germany, Belgium and throughout the United States.
In the end, the blogpost wound up with 109 readers on January 22nd — with about 50 via Twitter, 26 via Facebook, and others via LinkedIn and elsewhere.
When each person shared the link with her or his network, the momentum is carried forward, pushing out to new networks and new degrees of separation.
Social sharing is a bit like the emails you would get forwarded by your relatives (you know, those emails). The deeper you scroll down the thread, the less sender names you recognize.
But with Twitter, and using analytics like WordPress or Google, you can actually trace how a little link travels through different social networks, and eventually back to your website.
Also, because many people embed a small bio or website link in their Twitter profile, I can quickly see who has retweeted and read my link. I can read their tweets to get an idea of their profession and passions, and whether their news and insights might be of interest to me. I can click on their website link to learn more about their work, and I might choose to follow them on Twitter or even send an email of introduction to reach out.
In the end, social media tools not only expanded the reach of my blogpost and my ideas, but also introduced me to potential colleagues.
– Ben Young Landis