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Research Impact Challenge

Explore Facebook in a Professional Context

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.

Reasons to use Facebook professionally

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.

Using Facebook to promote your publications, news, and awards

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:

  • Ideal times to post are reportedly after the workday is over (5 pm – 1 am), when your friends have more time to click on the links you post. Though, posting during the day might make more sense if you are maintaining a professional page.
  • Is there a way to be professional and yet make yourself more human? One suggestion – don't just post about yourself/your work. Link to other items of interest, such as calls for conference proposals or new research being conducted.
  • Include a photo, figure, or video – visual content gets more “likes” and shares on Facebook than plain text and links alone do. And more shares means more potential readers for your article. Search for freely available images with a Creative Commons license using the CC Search tool.
  • If you’re posting one of your articles and didn’t publish in an open access journal, link to an open access version of your article hosted in AUrora, MLA Humanities Commons, Open Science Framework, etc., so others without access to the journal you’ve published in can read it. Review the Impact Challenge chapter on uploading your work to AUrora to submit an open access version of your article.
  • Keep your post’s introductory text to 40 characters or fewer – more people will “like” and comment upon your post, and that means your post will appear more often in others’ timelines, increasing your potential readers.
  • If you’re sharing research that might be of public interest, set your post to “Public” (more information on how to do so in this week’s homework, below) and use hashtags related to the subject of your study, so people browsing news on the subject can more easily find your post. Hashtags can be used on Facebook even if you don’t have a Twitter account. Here’s an example of news articles and updates discovered by the “#Ebola” hashtag, and the image below illustrates another use of hashtags.

Using Facebook to expand your network​

In researching this chapter, we were surprised to find that some researchers use Facebook to network. But Tanya Golash-Boza recommends doing just that: 

“Facebook is also a networking tool, particularly for taking advantage of “weak ties.” Recently, I wanted to meet the author of a successful book to ask her some questions about publishing. I looked her up on Facebook and discovered that we had two friends in common. I emailed one of them and asked for an introduction. Two days later, we were in direct email contact. As another example, in the past year, I have received several lecture invitations from Facebook friends. My constant virtual presence in their lives likely increased the likelihood they would invite me to speak.”

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.

Reasons not to use Facebook professionally

Facebook censors your newsfeed (and everyone else’s)

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 has privacy problems

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.

Bottom Line: Your network is only as “professional” as you make it

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: 

  • Create a “list” for everyone you’d consider a professional contact, and remember to add future professional contacts to that list, as you become Facebook friends.
  • Edit your privacy settings so you’re discoverable and so that everyone can send you friend requests (click the down arrow in the upper-right of the screen; select “Settings,” and then click on “Privacy” on the left side).
  • Further edit your privacy settings so new updates are not shared with your professional contacts by default – this can keep you from accidentally sharing something inappropriate with the wrong audience.
  • Whenever you share something that’s of professional interest, be sure to share it with both your work colleagues and your other “friends” on the site. Consider even making it visible to the public.

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.

This guide is based on the "30-Day Impact Challenge" by Stacy Konkiel and used here under a CC BY 4.0 International License and the OU Impact Challenge which is also licensed CC BY 4.0.  Many thanks to those authors for creating and sharing these materials.