Katherine Strick and Anastasia Voronkova are both PhD researchers. Katherine’s current research is investigating how meaningful occupation for people with dementia is perceived and the impact of this. She is presently working on the creation of a conceptual model.  Anastasia’s current research is investigating the interaction of health and wellbeing and environment conservation and sustainable exploitation (alternative livelihoods) in Indonesian Marine Protected Areas as part of the Blue Communities Project. Her field work concentrated on attitudes towards contraception and the environment.

At first, it seemed funny to think of ourselves as brands, but it was all about how we make an impact on social media and get noticed in the way we want to be. Thinking about brands helped us to think about our online personality and how we would write and share information online. For example are we quirky and virtuous like the brand innocent, or perhaps more serious and informative like the financial times. Communication consultant Kerri Hall led a workshop for Early Career Researchers and Post Graduate Researchers to build our social media confidence and help us to establish a following.

Social media can be a great way for people starting out in their research careers to get noticed. But what do you write about and how do you get people to follow you? What do you do before you have any results to share? As PhD students, our results were not ready to publish and we didn’t have followers in the field to read them when they were. Together we decided we needed help.

Help was at hand. We applied and were successful in receiving a Researcher Led Initiative grant from Research and Development, part of the Doctoral College at the University of Exeter. Thanks to the grant we were able to host a workshop to help people to develop new creative ways to promote themselves through social media.

It was all set for the 26th March, however, all plans were changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when virtual connections were really demonstrating how important they could be, we need to rethink! Our workshop was so interactive, would it work online? Thanks to technology we were able to plan an interactive workshop looking at building a profile that reflects our interest, starting by sharing others work and commenting on it, guest blogging and then creating our own blogs thus building our social media confidence as we build up our following.

Kerri demonstrated how different forms of social media can build on each other such as a twitter link signposting to a blog. This creates a holistic social media presence. The one really important thing for us to remember was to include an image to grab our follower’s attention.  Pictures could be hand drawn, writing in the sand or from a free online collection, but always add an image! The workshop was packed with tips from beginning to end and we each went away feeling inspired to try something new and think creatively about our posts.

Written by: Katherine Strick and Anastasia Voronkova