Are you a blog author? You’ve got readers. On Twitter or Academia.edu? You’ve got followers. Discuss your professional interests on Facebook? You’ve got friends. From connections on LinkedIn to those in your circles for Google+, chances are you’ve got a wide variety of online identities that each tie into some aspect of who you are as a professional in your academic discipline.
The great thing about using a variety of avenues for connecting is that each platform you use might be targeting an audience whose needs are met by your contributions in that format. For example, your Twitter followers might be especially keen on “sound bite” bits of information – news, updates, opinions – that they can quickly skim for interest or personal relevance. Maybe your blog readers are hungry for a longer-form piece on some topic in your shared academic field. Even the sometimes-less-used Google+ has real benefits for some users with academic interests – for example, someone who is especially interested in the contributions of their colleagues in their departmental or institutional circle.
But while having this variety of platforms in your communication does meet real content-consumer needs, you’ll want to keep in mind that this division isn’t necessarily reflecting the sum-total preferences of your readers, but rather the dynamic shifts of the activities, interests, and even moment-to-moment time demands your readers are experiencing. You need to let blog readers see where to go for your lightning tweets. Your followers on Twitter should know where to go to read your latest, or greatest, post. In other words, because your overall readership – regardless of platform – will usually tailor their social browsing activities to their current experiences, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with them on all of these levels by not including your work-related social connections on every platform you engage in.
Okay, so maybe some of you have a separate Facebook page that focuses on your dachshund or prized Harley, and you’d rather just keep that for friends and family. That’s all good! What we’re talking about here are those social media connections where you do want to communicate ideas with colleagues and like-minded peers in your field. Including this information in your profiles on every platform where this is allowed will ensure that those reading your tweet or blog post can also access your other publications and/or professional or personal interests. Remember, those utilizing your social activity profiles found your work useful and/or interesting, so including that information gives those who care about your research other avenues for connecting with you.
Professional Identifiers assist with cross-referencing an author or publication across multiple research points, and will help web researchers locate you or your work. In fact, in our preliminary discussions with academics when developing the ACI Scholarly Blog Index, we discovered a huge demand for being able to access a scholar’s other platforms of scholarly contribution. There are a variety of professional identifiers out there; ISNI, ORCID, and Scopus are just a few examples of the ones we’ve integrated into ACI.
Different identifiers serve different purposes, although many of the uses and benefits can overlap. For example, the ISNI and ORCID uniquely identifies an individual content contributor (i.e., blogger), much like the ISSN uniquely identifies an online or print publication (i.e., blog). Thus, they allow for the standardization of your authorship or blog across multiple platforms. Because of this, they also help web researchers to locate you and your work… which can be especially helpful if your name is John Jones, or if the title of your blog is a very commonly-used word or phrase.
There are many metrics tools out there for social connections; the popular Klout, for example, is one that we’ve integrated into ACI. But we’ve found that the potential benefits that may result from metrics on various online identity platforms are great and varied enough to develop our own set of metrics – Community Activity Scores for blog posts and blog authors – within ACI itself.
One of the reasons for this is that the relevance of any data resulting from such metrics is likely going to be more and more meaningful as time goes on just due to the self-propagating mechanism the social web allows. In other words, while metrics on a new blog (in ACI’s case), a new Twitter account, or a new Google+ profile may not offer enough relevant information for meaningful analysis in its initial stages of growth, the potential for relevance should increase (and, in some cases, near exponentially) over time.
Looking at the bigger picture of the social web and its interconnectedness, it’s worth reminding ourselves that the digital landscape – and especially in relation to academia – is still relatively young. Don’t leave the task of threading your scholarly contributions to your readers or followers; include links to those other connections in each of your profiles, on each of the platforms where including those connections would be relevant.
Make sure you take advantage now of the potential that current and distant-future growth might permit by ensuring that those with an interest in you or your work have a chance to follow your other avenues of content and scholarship.
You may also be interested in the following posts:
Loose Connections & the Strength of Weak Ties: How to Use Twitter & Blogs to Enhance Your Professional Academic Profile