This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Social media for political scientists

My APSA short course last week covered Social Media for Political Scientists. In my last post about the session, I talked about how political scientists can approach social media strategy, and shared the slide deck from our session.

Today, I start the process of rounding up resources that can help you get started with the tools I recommended in the workshop. Many of these resources are found on this site, but I’m also pulling in some how-tos from my favourite blogs and websites. The tools I recommend are the core of my methodology for maintaining an effective social media presence in 3 hours a week; read that series for an overview of how to make the pieces fit together.


Even if you never blog, tweet, or post to Facebook, social media can still become a powerful tool for your research and teaching — if you use it to gather a wider, more eclectic or more focused set of resources to support your research, teaching and/or policy engagement. If you are planning to create your own social media presence, monitoring is even more important. It’s the key to tracking and participating in the major conversations in your field, to finding inspiration for quick blog posts, and to responding to your students or audiences in real time.

Your toolkit:

  1. Use Google Reader to track news in your field, especially as blog fodder.
  2. Use iGoogle to track top feeds you want to see instantly throughout the day, and make iGoogle your browser’s default home page.
  3. Use HootSuite as a dashboard for monitoring Twitter.
  4. Identify key feeds to subscribe to. For suggestions see:

Bonus tips:

How political scientists can use social media monitoring:

  1. For research:
    • Track publication opportunities by monitoring major blogs, publications and searches on CFPs.
    • Build relationships with influential colleagues or potential collaborators by reading and commenting on their blogs or tweets.
    • Identify emergent case studies by tracking news and blog searches on relevant keywords.
    • Get the latest literature and book reviews so you can decide what you need to read and what you can absorb from other people’s reviews.
    • Let other people do the work of finding the latest and greatest online resources in your field by subscribing to relevant delicious tags (see tip #5 here).
  2. In the classroom:
    • Find timely news stories that you can incorporate into lectures, discussions and assignments.
    • Subscribe to searches for teaching ideas in your field or teaching area.
    • If you’ve asked your students to blog, read all their posts in one place.
    • Keep track of the blogs and news sources on your campus so you know what is on your students’ minds.
    • Subscribe to searches for photos (on Flickr), videos (on Youtube — here’s how) or slide decks that you can incorporate into your lectures and presentations.
  3. For policy influence:
    • Subscribe to news searches in your area of expertise so you can tweet or blog about breaking stories (which makes you the person journalists will call for comment).
    • Monitor news and blog searches in your field so you always have news stories or blog posts you can use as the jumping-off point for quick blog posts.
    • Subscribe to notifications of regulatory processes for which you might want to submit expert comment.
    • Identify key policymakers and journalists to follow (subscribing to their columns, blogs and/or Twitter feeds) so you can comment or reply to their posts, a great way to build a relationship.

As you can see, once you are tuned into all the conversations unfolding online, you’re probably going to find it easier (and more tempting) to jump in yourself. The next post, on storytelling, will tell you how to get started.

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