Dear Faculty Relations - I am a faculty member engaged in research, teaching, and service activities. Most days, it is a struggle to stay afloat. Recently, a colleague mentioned that I need to have a social media presence and brand myself and my research online. Why should I care about having a social media account? - Your Anti-Social Media Professor
Dear Anti-Social Media Professor - We hear you! There are only so many things one can do in a day. Social media is not for everyone; it’s perfectly OK not to have an online presence. However, if you are curious about branding yourself and your research on social media and why it is important, read on.
It is no secret that higher education is often under attack, with its relevance and role in our society being questioned. One way to show our relevance and have an impact on our society is through social media. Making our work accessible and reaching the general public directly through social media microphones is a form of public scholarship many have called for in higher education. It is one way of increasing public understanding and support for higher education in our society. As state funding and public support continue to decline for universities like ours, it becomes imperative that we all engage in some form of public scholarship to show our relevance and impact on our society.
Managing an online presence takes time; we don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. Irrespective of one’s area of research, one can expect to be attacked relentlessly online and often from both sides of the political spectrum. However, there are examples of academics who have built a large following online and are engaging in public scholarship. Casey Fiesler is one such CU Boulder professor who is moving the needle on multiple social media platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Tik Tok, with her work in big data ethics, ethics education, and technology empowerment for marginalized communities. Also, CU has social media guidelines and best practices for both departments and individuals at the system and campus levels. If you’d rather stay far away from social media, there are other ways to engage in public scholarship, such as writing for the Conversation.
Written by Harsha Ganga, Faculty Director for Mid-Career Faculty Development, Office of Faculty Affairs, March 2023