Using social media to build your brand – what we can glean from an academic’s perspective

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a session by Massey University’s Dr Cat Pause on using social media to promote your research.  I follow Cat on several social media platforms, and as someone who talks to academics about social media, I was interested to see what a real live academic  had to say to her peers on the subject. Is my advice on the right track?  I’ve now tweaked my report on her session to give some insights into how practising librarians and those involved in library research may use social media to build their personal brand.

Studying librarianship or interested in evidence based practice? Sign up to This is a bit like LinkedIn but specifically designed for the academic community.  Here you can set yourself up with a profile, add your research papers, and search for other researchers. will also alert you if anyone has come to your page on their search via a Google search. (She did also acknowledge other sites such as Researchgate but didn’t go into those in any detail, so it seems like is her choice here).

Next up was blogging. If you want to blog, Cat made the point that it is important to think about what purpose your blog will serve, and how often you plan to update it. Cat publishes something on the 5th of every month – so she makes a commitment to just blog once a month. She doesn’t subscribe to the view that if you aren’t blogging everyday you are doing it wrong.

Are you engaged in library research? Cat does most of her writing on social media first and this helps her develop her thoughts for her academic output. She does recommend researchers  “keep the good stuff” for their journal articles.

Tumblr was next. I’ve dabbled in this site myself but it doesn’t consistently hold my interest. Cat describes it as a “multimedia twitter” and apparently it is where the cool kids hang out 😉 If you have access to Library Life (is that still restricted to members only?) then check out Donna Robertson’s feature on Tumblr in the 13th August issue. I loved the quote that Tumblr is the “best baby that Twitter and WordPress didn’t know they had” – so great for those who want to do more than tweet, but who don’t want to commit to producing lengthy blog posts. Check out for an example of Tumblr being used by an academic. I know one New Zealand Library uses Tumblr, but are any librarians using it for their library related stuff?

And then of course there is Twitter. Cat talked about how it allows you to participate in conferences that you aren’t at – and plenty of library folk do just that as well. If you are presenting at a conference, you can use set up and synch tweets to go out as you do your presentation. I have to say this is a god send if you are at a conference – being able to retweet the speaker’s tweets is an incredibly handy shortcut. Cat says she probably uses Twitter more for communicating with other academics she doesn’t know, rather than using email – something about it being less threatening I think. She did say it was highly effective for doing something that academics don’t talk about much – and that is “building your brand”. I don’t think this is a thing librarians talk about much either! In the academic world, Inger Mewburn , who is the  @thesiswhispherer  on Twitter is one of the show stopper examples of someone who has done built a personal brand.

There was a brief mention of Facebook – and how you can set up a profile page rather than a personal page to allow people to like you. Check out Linda Bacon’s Facebook page an example in an academic setting.

Cat also has a Youtube channel where she can showcase her media appearances.

Cat’s final advice was that it is important to link your social media sites – so people can find you on different platforms. If you are interested in developing a personal brand on social media, think about whether you should focus on one area – for instance she focuses her on fat issues, rather than her other interests. This avoids diluting your brand.

Is personal brand building important to you as a Librarian? I’d be interested in your comments!

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