NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Using Social Media to Further Research Development: On Campus, in your Professional Career, and for NORDP

Using Social Media to Further Research Development: On Campus, in your Professional Career, and for NORDP      


  • Rachel Dresbeck, Director of Research Development & Academic Communications, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Karen Fletcher, Director of Grants Resources & Services, Appalachian State University
  • Gretchen Kiser, Executive Director of the Research Development Office, University of California, San Francisco
  • Michael Thompson, Research Development Associate, University of New Hampshire

Thanks to our session note-taker!

Key points from the session. We learned:         

  • Social media can be used by RD professionals to strengthen office activities; better connect with researchers; and boost professional contacts. When selecting a platform to use, RD professionals should ask: What platforms are the faculty at my institution using? What platforms are my peers using?
  • Twitter is public and “busy” with a constantly changing feed. Hashtags can be helpful, but be careful about starting “new” hashtags, unless you are involved in a larger branding campaign. Twitter is useful for sharing upcoming office events/news and funding agency announcements/updates. When running a RD office Twitter account, it is important to be professional and not polarizing, as you are representing your institution at large.
  • Rachel Dresbeck’s institution, Oregon Health and Science University, held a session for faculty focused on social media for researchers. Participants created social media strategy plans for themselves, learned about measuring social media impact, social media presentation skills (updating headshots, considering top Google results, etc.), and how to find a community of other researchers.
  • LinkedIn allows RD professionals to find and connect with colleagues, create an interactive resume, read news from funding agencies, and engage with the greater NORDP community through chats, sharing resources, etc.
  • The session leaders provided attendees with a few fun “homework” assignments: to follow the NORDP blog; to connect via the official NORDP group on LinkedIn; and to follow NORDP on Twitter.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?          

Using Instagram for Research Development work was an idea that I hadn’t heard before. It was interesting to learn that at Karen Fletcher’s institution, Appalachian State University, this social media platform is preferred by the faculty members, especially those in the arts. Karen has used her RD office’s Instagram account to document programs on campus.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? Examples: a website, database or software tool. We’ll link to resources on the blog.          

Rachel Dresbeck mentioned that supplemental slides from Oregon Health and Science University’s very recent faculty social media coaching program could be made available to attendees/NORDP.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenter(s)’ response?          

Audience Member Question: How do you find out which social media platform(s) your faculty members prefer to use to interact and receive RD information?

  • An annual survey disseminated to faculty can ask a social media preference question; this works best if the information is captured at a school-wide level.
  • Ask at workshops, programs, and faculty meetings: “How would you like to receive information from our office?”
  • Follow faculty members on Twitter, Instagram, etc.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

It is important to consider larger institutional attitudes toward Twitter and social media platforms in general; at Michael Thompson’s institution (University of New Hampshire), there was a university-wide push to engage on Twitter; Gretchen Kiser’s institution (UC San Francisco) was concerned about branding and more hesitant toward strong engagement on social media at first. If your institution has a social media/communications team in place, it is good to be in touch regarding institutional attitudes, best practices, etc.

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