Tweeting is a common occurance at APPAM events.
Policy, Research, and Tweeting
May 15, 2013 09:00 AM
What is Twitter, and how is it relevant for public policy analysis, research, and management? Is this a viable tool for today's professionals in the public policy field?
The short answer: it depends.
Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to send and receive short public messages called "tweets." Entries are limited to 140 characters and can include links to blogs, websites, images, videos, and other online material. You may have noticed APPAM's scrolling Twitter feed on the front page of APPAM.org, which shows, in real time, the various messages the Association puts out, as well as "re-tweets" relevant news and research from industry professionals and organizations.
So how can such a brief medium be relevant to academia, corporate, and other policy research professionals? Is it possible anything of value can be said in 140 characters or less?
The good news is yes, it is possible. Twitter can add extra value to your research project or work in several different ways.
Did you complete a milestone in your project? Tweet about it. Every new publication, data, report, website or blog update can be tweeted. Include a link to your research blog and ask your followers for feedback and comments.
The London School of Economics and Political Science Public Policy Group posted an in-depth guide to Twitter and tweeting back in September 2011. While primarily directed towards academics and researchers, the insights and suggestions they provide - along with a simple guide to using the service - is invaluable.
The hashtag feature of Twitter is of particular note. When public tweets use a hashtag (#), it categorizes the tweet with others using the same. Hashtags have fostered Twitter communities around academic work (#phdchat, #acwri) and specific disciplines (#publicpolicy, #economics). In these feeds, you'll find links to a lot of resources specific to the hashtag topic, including academic writing, promoting your research, and developing your career.
Twitter is also good for networking and collaboration. Through the hashtag feed, members can participate in weekly or bi-weekly "chat" sessions. Academics can then discuss a topic or find like-minded professionals with which to network and collaborate.
The service is also a convenient way to keep up-to-date on academic, policy, and research news from a wide range of sources. Through Twitter's list feature, you can sort who you follow into different topic areas. These lists help you organize when you have a large number of people you follow across aspectrum of topics. You can also follow other user lists as well. It takes a little time to organize but for those needing particular avenues of information, it is well worth the effort.
A wide variety of apps exist for using Twitter. The most common entry point is through using the service's website. However, some applications have made it easier to use and sort tweets, including pre-scheduling your own tweets. The more popular apps include HootSuite, TweetDeck, Tweetbot, and SocialOomph.
If you're looking to step out further into the realm of social media, starting up or expanding your Twitter use is a must. By exploring the service's uses and tailoring it to your needs, you can promote your research, build up your network, find and collaborate with like-minded colleagues, and stay abreast of current news impacting your field. Whether you use it sparingly or extensively, Twitter will open up new roads to explore in your career.