In a professional context, Facebook allows you to make more personal connections to colleagues than academic social networking sites do and can be a good way to share your research with audiences outside the Ivory Tower.
Facebook is the social network that needs no introduction: it has over 2 billion monthly users, and chances are most everyone you know is on it. Yet many say they won’t use it professionally. On the surface, Facebook doesn’t seem good for academia because it doesn’t make sense to promote our work to our friends and family or to blur the boundaries between our personal and professional lives. But Facebook networks are as good as you make them, and Facebook allows us to make more personal connections to colleagues than most academic social networking sites do. Facebook does not allow users to have multiple accounts, yet it is still possible to create a separate page that can be used for your professional posts and is separate from your personal profile page.
In this week’s challenge, we’re going to take a “pros and cons” approach to exploring how Facebook might be useful to your career.
Many of us are on Facebook, and plenty of us “friend” our colleagues on the site, even if we’re not on Facebook primarily for professional reasons. Academics who use Facebook for professional reasons tend to use it to promote their work and as an informal way to network with other scholars and researchers.
Consider sharing a link to one of your articles, a bit of news, or an award announcement the next time you log on to Facebook. One advantage to sharing articles, in particular, is that Facebook-based sharing and discussion has been linked to increased readership.
Consider looking for Facebook groups that might help you network and promote your work. You can find Facebook groups using the search box at the top of your page and then looking at the “Groups” section of the results.
Likewise, many professional organizations maintain a Facebook page where you may also be able to promote your work. You will also be able to find them by using the search box at the top of your profile page.
Here are some tips for sharing your research on Facebook:
In researching this chapter, we were surprised to find that some researchers use Facebook to network. But Tanya Golash-Boza recommends doing just that:
The informal, passive route to networking worked in Golash-Boza’s favor, but note that she didn’t “friend” or message someone she didn’t know in order to make a connection. Instead, she leveraged shared ties instead (something you practiced during our LinkedIn challenge). Some researchers are very against using Facebook in a professional manner, so tread carefully.
Things like past-click behavior, search history and website algorithms create what are known as filter bubbles. These filter bubbles essentially make sure that the information that shows up in your newsfeed is consistent with things you already look at. Facebook’s algorithms might decide that your updates aren’t worth sharing with your network. So, why share your research or your views on a platform that might hit the mute button on you?
Facebook, like some of the other platforms we’ve covered, is a for-profit corporation. They make money by selling your personal data to advertisers (in addition to putting advertisements onto your Facebook profile and allowing brands to use your “likes” in their advertisements). They also have run afoul of privacy advocates by constantly changing the default privacy settings for profiles, opening up new and established users alike to unwanted public exposure. And more recently, we’ve heard about the massive Cambridge Analytica debacle that exposed private information of over 50 million Facebook users.
If you do choose to use Facebook in a professional manner, be aware of the privacy issues and the steps you can take to mitigate them.
Another area of concern is Facebook’s use of chatbots in its Messenger app. Chatbots use artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate interactions between humans and virtual assistants, but issues have been raised about their security.
You might only use Facebook for personal updates; sharing photos of your children or what you made for dinner last night. Sure, you can change your Facebook privacy settings to hide unprofessional content from colleagues. But doing that for each new friend you add can be a bothersome process. Some prefer to not friend colleagues at all, for that very reason.
Is Facebook right for you, professionally speaking? Take some time to think about the arguments above and decide for yourself whether you want to use Facebook to network with other scholars, share your publications, or to facilitate your research.
If you decide you want to use Facebook in a professional context, here’s how to make sure it’s up to snuff:
Whether you decide to use Facebook professionally or not, in a few weeks we’ll tackle social media automation – making it simple and quick for you to update your scholarly social media accounts from a single interface.