Echo chamber. That concept is used to describe one of the most negative aspects of social media. Through repetition and communication, these platforms amplify information and ideas. The sources are often unquestioned and differing opinions are underrepresented.
Interaction and communication are not problems. Constant spreading of fake news – that’s a problem. The fact that social media users don’t question or doubt the authority or expertise of the source – that’s a problem.
When we learn how to overcome these negative points of social media use, we can turn it into a powerful research tool. Keep this in mind: experts in different niches use social media, too. They embraced Facebook, Twitter and all other platforms, since it’s important for them to connect with their audience. Social media gives them huge space to increase their influence.
This brings us to the point: Can you use social media for in-depth academic research? You can, and you should. We’ll explain 3 ways to power up your research with social media.
1. Find the Latest News
This is what the 2017 Digital News Report says: “Echo chambers and filter bubbles are undoubtedly real for some, but we also find that – on average – users of social media, aggregators, and search engines experience more diversity than non-users.”
The same report shows that only 24% of the respondents believe that social media does well in separating fact from fiction. That shows us that people don’t believe everything they read on Facebook, and it’s a good sign.
As a user of social media, you’ll be exposed to a greater diversity of news. You’ll get more information. You’ll only need to process it well, so you’ll use only the reliable resources for your academic research. Even better: you may expose the fake news and prove them wrong.
Twitter and Facebook are major sources of information and news. In addition, you may explore relevant threads on Reddit. These are platforms that go beyond fake news. They support sharing and exchanging of ideas and publications. That’s the aspect you should focus on.
2. Connect With Influencers
We’re not talking about the usual kind of influencers that people tend to follow on social media. Most commonly, social media users like to follow influencers from the areas of fitness, technology, and social media marketing. Socialites, too. When you’re interested in research, however, you’ll follow academics who use social media platforms to boost their influence.
Warren Fowler, a part-time academic writer at UK Best Essays with great experience in using social media for research, shares his experience: “Social media liberates researchers to create their own networks, share their work and discuss it with other researchers. At a practical level, the information shared via social media is easy to skim, and it reaches far more people than research-specific websites.”
Search for published research that delivers findings relevant to your project. See if you can connect with the authors on social media. You’ll notice that these people use social media as a way to share their latest publications with their target audience. They will also share notes and comments on publications by other researchers.
The #ScholarSunday hashtag on Twitter, for example, is used by academics to recommend research by colleagues. It’s a simple way to connect with academics working in the field of research you’re interested in. If you’re developing a serious research project, these academics can also promote your work through the hashtag.
3. Join the Conversations
Scholarly communication used to revolve around official publications. This is still a valid way to communicate, but the fixed text published by a fixed medium limits the dynamic nature of conversation. Social media, on the other hand, supports it.
The conversations between researchers no longer occur solely through formally published articles or during conferences. Thanks to social media, there’s a less formal and more dynamic scholarly conversation. When you’re working on a serious research project, you want to become part of this conversation.
Twitter is the favorite social media platform for academics. They use it to promote their work, but they are also building connections and discussing important matters. Find the right people to follow. Join the conversation. It may lead you to resources you didn’t even consider for your research.
Social Media Powers Up Your Research
Contemporary academics are doing their best to maintain an influential social media presence. That enables them to connect with the right people and present their research to a wider audience. As a researcher, you can certainly benefit from that trend.
The fact that social media is a source of fake information is a problem. When you connect with the right people and profiles, however, you’ll overcome that flaw. You will find resources and useful discussions that will set your research process in the right direction.
Today, it’s more important than ever for academics to engage with the public. You should consider social media not only for conducting research, but for connecting with the wider audience as well.