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Shameless Self-Promotion Workshop Guide

This guide accompanies the workshop, "Shameless Self-Promotion." The workshop (and this guide!) provide information about how you can maximize your online presence to boost your academic portfolio and network with peers to advance your career.

Welcome to #AcademicTwitter

Summary: Twitter is public serendipity

Part social network, part news network, part overwhelming noise, Twitter is a unique social network because the default is to make content open (except for direct messages sent between users) and you never know who may read, react, or write you back. Students, faculty, scientists, scholars and researchers are active users of Twitter and each discipline has its own subculture.

Content shared on Twitter can range from formal (sharing a link to something you've recently published, tweeting about conference presentations you're attending, or sharing out about funding you've recently been awarded), to informal (photos of your pets, your discipline's take on a new meme, reflecting on the coffee that's getting you through your day, or sharing out fantastically nerdy puns).

Accounts on Twitter are free.


  • Most posts on Twitter are public and available to anyone. Users may choose to make their account private, restricting their posts to be visible only to their approved followers list.
  • Twitter isn't a dedicated platform for research or hiring, so it's the best place to find other professionals at work, and play.
  • Setting up an account is fast and easy and Twitter accounts are a supported login method on other websites.
  • Twitter can be a good place to make national and international connections, locate peers, find job postings, and discover research.

Not Cool

  • Most posts on Twitter are public and available to anyone. While users may choose to make their account private, that can also limit the ways you can use Twitter to network. 
  • It's easy to become overwhelmed and lost. Unlike other sites Twitter's primary navigation is through hashtags, though there is also a search box feature.
  • Because most tweets are open, you should assume that Twitter is regularly data mined for research and for more nefarious purposes. There are also a decent amount of bot, spammer, and troll accounts to watch out for.

Getting Started on Twitter

Five simple steps will help establish your account as legitimate and memorable.

1. Pick a good user name

Your user name is how you will be identified on Twitter. User names are unique and can be changed at any time. A user name based on your real name is a good idea if you plan to use Twitter professionally but isn't a necessity. Adding something related to your area of study can also make a user name memorable, professional, and fun. Check out the examples below for inspiration:

Promote your field or subject of study like @AndyBugGuy 
(Andrew Warren, Entomologist)

Make a pun with your name like @goodgracious23 
(Grace Wilkinson, Limnologist & Ecosystem Ecologist)

Make a pun related to your field of study like @hashtagoras
(Joseph A. Howley, Classics professor)

Declare your expertise like @ProfJasmine 
(Jasmine Roberts, Communications professor)

Claim your name like @saragoldrickrab 
(Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of Education Policy and Sociology)

2. Set a profile picture

Get rid of the default egg picture! Twitter users associate it with "newbies" and "spammers." You don't have to use a photo of yourself but doing so will help people identify you, both online and off. 

3. Provide a name

Providing your name, or a variation of your name, will help others locate and identify you on Twitter. Both user names and names are searchable but names are not unique since there are multiple people in the world with the same name.

4. Add a short blurb about yourself

Just like the profile photo you need to have something here for your account to look legitimate. Try to add short info about yourself such as research interests, where you work or study, hobbies, pets, favorite foods, etc. Pro tip: you can use emojis! 

5. Header photo

This one comes last because it's not essential but it's easy so you might as well. Choose an image that reflects one of your interests, fits the size,  and will help others and remember who you are. 

Want more? Wired Magazine's 2018 Article "How To Use Twitter: Critical Tips For New Users" is still relevant and helpful! 

Feeling lost? Try Tweetdeck, a free tool tool that lets you easily follow different hashtags, user groups, and more. 

icons used on this page are from icons8

Profile Photo
Megan O'Donnell
she / her
The Catalyst / 204 Parks Library

Hashtags (hashtag or pound sign (#)): are words and phrases (without spaces) preceded by a # appended to a tweet to mark it as related to that topic. They can define sub-communities and provide easy topic navigation. Example academic and research hashtags include:









How do you find new hashtags to use? See what important people in your field are using in their posts, and check out what your professional organizations are using. Often when an organization or association holds a conference, they assign a specific hashtag for attendees to use. It's a great way to share out information from the presentations you're attending, or to follow along from home if you're not able to go that year.