Announcing publications with Twitter images
Announcing a paper with a Twitter image is eye-catching and saves time. It is also an excellent way to start a Paper Thread.
I’ve been experimenting with new ways to disseminate publications from the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (@EES_Update) project on Twitter (background: I’m their communications officer and am also a researcher in the area).
I’ve found that creating an image template dedicated to publication announcements is eye-catching and saves time. So far, I’ve developed two types of images for the EES.
Special issue journal articles:
This is what they look like in a tweet:
The hope is that once our audience is used to the graphic types typically used in our channel, they might be able to associate a Gestaltian global “look” with a type of announcement.
Using Twitter images might be a good alternative to screeenshots of abstracts or the first page of papers. While these screenshots shout “I am a paper!” it is not attractive and the abstracts are hard to read on a small screen. Perhaps a compromise would be “abstract images.” I’ll give that a try next week!
To create a twitter image for a paper, all I have to do is to put the key information into a formatted template on Powerpoint and then export the slide into a PNG file. I’ll explain how I set up a template soon, but first, I’d like to tell you how I got to this point, “recipe website” style.
It was a cold, rainy day and I was flipping through one of those glossy magazines that are meant to just sit on the coffee table, sipping hot Viennese mulled wine…..
Scratch that. Who has time for this.
Learning from the Big Institutions
The EES is an “institutional account,” that is, it represents not a single individual but the personality and mission of a group. Looking into the social media strategies and packages of much larger institutes, I’ve found that it is standard practice to develop a “media toolkit” for social media communications.
The Royal Society has a distinctive “brand look” (i.e. color scheme, font, etc.) so I started there. These are the “social images” (in this pic, Twitter images) defined by their media department.
I then dug a bit further and found wonderful style books, strategy manuals, and examples developed by almost all major institutes.
The MIGNEX’s Communications and Impact handbook, for instance, shares the formatting and guidelines for their social media images
As a communications officer for small institutions, all of this is worth looking into. So what did I do?
Creating a template for your own social media images
The most important step is to know the dimensions of your image. You want it to be just the right size for users to clearly see — not cropped — on their phones and monitors. You can always use social media images guides like this one by SproutSocial (continuously updated), but I took the lazy route.
Step 1: copy and paste one of the images in the media packages of larger institutions into Powerpoint to get a sense of dimension
Step 2: adjust “slide size” to fit the dimensions of the image, then delete the image
Step 3: put your own elements into the slide and play around.
- special issue title
- article title
- key image
Step 4: export image by saving slide as PNG or JPEG.
And there you go! An image for Twitter. A Twitter image for science.
Previously, I talked about the benefits of using Paper Threads to announce papers: 10 Reasons I Love Reading Paper Threads on Twitter. It seems like a good Twitter Image can serve as a cover image for the lead of the thread. Give it a try!
Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions! Curious how you’re going to make use of this versatile vehicle.