Making the most of social media

Find out about our range of subject-specific pages available you can join and get some tips for setting up and maximising the potential of your own social media profiles

Social media has become a part of everyday life. In 2010, Facebook overtook Google as the Web's most visited site and in the US Internet users spend one out of every four online minutes on social networking sites and blogs (1).

If social media is unfamiliar, that first dip of your toe into new waters can be daunting. However, Elsevier has a range of subject-specific pages available you can join. And below we have outlined some tips for setting up and maximising the potential of your own social media profiles.

The social media landscape

Broadly, the term social media covers people having a conversation online. Conversations can take place in online forums, online communities, social bookmarking sites, user ratings and also as part of multimedia sharing sites.

91% of mobile Internet use is now for social activities. On average in one year, Internet users will:

  • Share 415 pieces of content on Facebook
  • Spend an average of about 23 minutes a day on Twitter
  • Tweet a total of around 15,795 tweets
  • Upload 196 hours of video on YouTube

Sharing research, accomplishments and ambitions with a wider audience makes you more visible in your field. With greater visibility, you are more likely to be cited, you cultivate a stronger reputation and you promote your research, your journal and your career. Some of the more popular networking sites include:


  • Share photos, status updates and links regarding your research with all of your 'friends'
  • Keep up with association or organization news and announcements on their official pages


  • Share quick thoughts, statements and announcements with followers, using no more than 140 characters
  • Share your current research, publications and links to new blog posts with others
  • Follow other researchers and increase your own following


  • Showcase your work to your connections by creating a profile (just like in a CV)
  • Post your latest accomplishments, research findings and links to your articles
  • Join research groups that interest you and connect with others

Every second, one new user joins LinkedIn and 81% of users belong to at least one group.

At Elsevier, we have more than 160 social media channels (including The Lancet and Cell Press) covering all subject areas. We use these to promote new research, increase traffic to journal articles, gauge opinions on new journals and special issues and give more than 360,000 followers a chance to interact with us directly.

As an Author, your contribution to these social media communities by starting or joining in with discussions could help highlight your research and bring your latest work to the attention of the community.

We invite you to follow or join Elsevier's social media channels to keep abreast of the latest developments in your area, share your research by posting your published articles, and ask the questions you want to discuss with your peers and colleagues. If you mention us on Twitter, we'll retweet to our followers.

How to set up your own profiles

Signing up for an account is easy, but having a professional and personable profile takes a little foresight and effort to build. While each social platform has different specifications and limitations, here are some steps that will work for all:

  1. Profession: Describe what you do. You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description.
  2. Type of organization: Using your company name is good, but you can also describe the type of organization.
  3. Expertise and unique strengths: What are your key competencies and skills? What are the qualities that differentiate you from your colleagues?
  4. Keep it real: Always use real names, photos and locations.

There is one further step that can help to define your profile, a step that defines your communication style with social media tools:

  1. Personality: What should your audience know about you that makes you a real person?

Below is an example of how these principles have been used to build a Twitter profile:


When communicating through social media, you are having conversations with the people that read your publications, potential and current authors, colleagues and peers, industry specialists, and more. Just as in any form of communication, some rules apply and these are even more enhanced in the social realm. You should be:

  • Transparent: Be honest, upfront, and open to criticism.
  • Conversational: It's not about blasting a message. It's about having a conversation and asking questions, listening, and responding.
  • Active: By participating on a regular basis, your interactions will grow your network organically.
  • Valuable. Don't post just to post. Think about how your network will use the information you are sending. It's even better to add context to a link – let them know why you are posting.

With a little practice, interacting in social networks can become as natural as emailing or talking in person. It can even be fun!

Author biographies

Angelina Ward As Director of Social Media and Content,Angelina Ward (@angelinaward) leads social business efforts throughout the organization. These include forming policy, guidelines and centralized resources, and driving corporate-level campaigns. She speaks at industry events on social media topics and has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology on Twitter who truly "gets" social media and social business. She is based in Atlanta.
Rachel GuestRachel Guest is Group Marketing Communications Manager and is based in Elsevier's Oxford office. She is the social media project lead for Elsevier's Science, Technology and Medical Journals with responsibility for more than 150 subject social media channels with a following of more than 250,000 individuals. Her role is to ensure that Elsevier's social media content engages with and meets the needs of researchers. 

This article was originally published in Elsevier's Editors' Update, March 2013 issue.


(1) All statistics quoted in this article have been taken from the following:

The Growth of Mobile Marketing and Tagging, Holly Richmond, Microsoft Tag

100 more social media statistics for 2012, Cara Pring, The Social Skinny

The LinkedIn Profile, Market Research – the latest social media and market research news, Lab42

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