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Social Media for Scientists: L.A. Razzaq Explains It All

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

When it comes to social media, Laurén Abdel-Razzaq has done it all. As digital Director for the Detroit News, Laurén heads the team that handles all website material, apps and the newspaper’s general online presence and presentation. Before being promoted to her present job Laurén was the paper’s social media manager, so it isn’t surprising she had a LOT to say to MSU SciComm’s general body meeting on January 16 about how scientists can increase their online presence and garner more attention for their work.

Some of the key takeaways:


If you’re doing research that is exciting, promising or relevant, don’t just put it out there and hope someone notices. Target, target, target. This means doing an active search to learn which media organizations and which individuals at those organizations might be interested. It also means taking some time to find out how news media work.


When it comes to Facebook, the rules are a bit different. Keep in mind that Facebook was “born visual.” Pure text won’t work here, as it would for a newspaper. Whenever you post about a particular piece of research you’re involved in, try to find an interesting photo, image, or diagram to include. Wherever possible, offer links to your research, your published papers or to external sites related to your research.


If you follow the right Twitter users you can keep on top of current discoveries and policy developments in your discipline, find funding opportunities, exchange ideas with colleagues and make new professional connections. You can even promote your own work and engage with nonscientists. But just as when you use Facebook, you need to match your approach to the special possibilities of the medium. Make a point of following people in your field whose work interests you. When you comment on other peoples’ work don’t be afraid to mention your own work too if it connects with theirs or adds to the discussion or debate.


Unlike the other social media, this one is visual first. If you don’t have something truly eye-catching, you are wasting your time. Instagram is like three apps in one: the Instagram feed, Instagram stories and IGTV. Instagram stories let you add links after you have 10,000 followers. You can include these stories as part of your overall social media strategy. You can also use them as Twitter Moments—a form of cross promotion. Instagram is not a free for all, but it must not be boring.

Laurén had a lot more to say than just these basics, including lots of helpful tips for social media users in science. You can find her entire Powerpoint presentation here.

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