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Research reveals four types of academic social media user

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Research reveals four types of academic social media user

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I’ve written a few times over the years about the role social media can play in the life of the average academic.  Whether that’s the dissemination of findings via social media, or the utilization of open innovation for academic research.  Alas, despite the numerous apparent advantages, research from last month revealed that the majority of academics want nothing to do with social media whatsoever.

“Only a minority of university researchers are using free and widely available social media to get their results and published insights out and into the hands of the public, even though the mission of public universities is to create knowledge that makes a difference in people’s lives,” researchers said.

The study saw over 1,500 academics surveyed to unearth their social media practices.  They found that just 15% of them were using Twitter, with slightly higher figures of 28% for YouTube and 39% for Facebook (allegedly for professional use rather than personal).

A new survey conducted by the Goportis – Leibniz Library Network for Research Information paints a slightly more optimistic picture.  It unveils the four main types of academic social media user.  These four users were identified as displaying significantly different patterns of usage of social media.

Type 1 – Ms Maker

Ms Maker is typified as a research assistant or professor who users social media between once and several times per week.  They’re very concerned by privacy issues online and make selected use of tools, primarily in situations where they make their work easier.

Type 2 – Mr Tech

Mr Tech is typified as a research assistant or professor who users social media to much the same extent as Ms Maker.  Where he differs however is in his general enthusiasm for new technologies and media.  Whilst Ms Maker takes a utilitarian approach to social media, for Mr Tech usage is much more fun based.

Type 3 – Mr Classic

Mr Classic is at the other end of the spectrum entirely.  He is typically older, usually male, and uses social media very rarely, which is reflected in his less than enthusiastic attitude towards it.  This breeds a lack of self-confidence in using social tools, and results in usage being limited to individual applications, often learning based ones that are expected of him in his teaching role.

Type 4 – Mr Nerd

The final type is Mr Nerd.  Mr Nerd is an intensive user of social media and has no qualms about privacy issues.  He jumps into social media with both feet and is generally very enthusiastic about its applications.

These classifications are quite possibly commonplace throughout the professional world.  It is unfortunate however that the survey doesn’t reveal the proportion of academics that fall into each category.  Which one best resembles you?

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