LinkedIn’s strong focus on business and employment-oriented content is atypical amongst social media sites and can make it a difficult platform to use for academic purposes. Less personal than Facebook and more formal than Twitter, using LinkedIn to effectively promote your research requires a different strategy. When employed successfully, LinkedIn has the potential to communicate your research to a corporate audience that is less likely to be active on other social media platforms.
When considering the type of content suitable to be posted on LinkedIn, it’s important not to feel limited to posting material relating to ‘business’ or ‘employment’ as concepts distinct from academic research. Your research output is the primary content that you are seeking to advertise and can, therefore, be treated as a service or product for the purposes of LinkedIn. Posting links to your research not only brings a wider readership to your important work, but also enhances your profile to give visitors an immediate sense of your specific research expertise. Links to your research could be headed by the combination of a key quote, a brief abstract of the article, and a set of relevant hashtags. Hashtag usage on LinkedIn is even more vital for ensuring the impact of your content than on Twitter – you should feel free not only to make use of general hashtags but also to include ones more specific to your research area.
While links to your research should form the foundation of the material you post to LinkedIn, the platform also offers opportunities to share other content that might not achieve the same levels of impact elsewhere on social media. Posting news about advances in your field is a great way to start conversations with other researchers or provide insights to a general audience. A unique quirk of LinkedIn is the success of text-only posts that do not include a link to another website or an image. Diary-type posts updating your research progress or longer posts demonstrating the relevance of your work to contemporary events are likely to generate high levels of engagement and allow you to offer a more comprehensive portrait of yourself as an academic than the likes of Twitter.
It’s also important to engage with other members of your academic sub-community on the site. The best way to increase the impact of your profile is to comment on the posts of people who you hope will engage with your research: a good rule of thumb is to comment five times as often as you post. Searching by hashtag is an effective way to find pertinent content and profiles. Joining relevant LinkedIn groups[are they Groups? Not sure myself] is another way to swiftly establish yourself in the networks of other academics, policymakers, or potential corporate partnerships. In short, don’t be afraid to reach out to others to kick start the conversation about your work!
LinkedIn lets you curate a polished profile that reflects your academic strengths and interests: your profile should ultimately become an exhaustive CV that gives a visitor a clear sense of the full breadth of your research. This material has the potential to reach a wide audience, creating beneficial and unexpected connections that increase the impact of your work.