Posted on December 19, 2013
By, Camille Gamboa, PR Team, SAGE US @CamilleGamboa
These comments represent my personal perspective as a PR professional, a graduate student, and a researcher. While we hope SAGE Connection readers will find them helpful, they are not officially endorsed by SAGE.
While as a member of our PR team, I managed SAGE’s twitter account for a time, I have to admit that it was only very recently that I began to dabble in building my own personal twitter profile. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the medium as an excellent channel for communication, but the thought of creating and publicizing my own clever comments throughout the day in 140 characters or less seemed daunting. It wasn’t until I was at a PR conference confronted by the prospect of winning a Starbucks gift card through a twitter competition that my competitive spirits got the best of me and I decided to give it a try. So I dusted off the twitter app on my phone (which had previously been used only to monitor the news from WSJ or the witty tweets of Jimmy Fallon every six months or so) and began tweeting “only for the day,” I thought to myself.
One week, 20 followers, and one Starbucks gift card later, I’m hooked (check out @CamilleGamboa to see what I mean #shamelessplug). Here’s why you should be too:
1. Access: A few weeks ago, I attended a conference at which Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) came and declared a passionate dedication to the brain and behavioral sciences. I tweeted out my appreciation from the @SocialScienceSpace twitter account and was delighted to see that it was retweeted by Chaka’s own team.
How else would I be able to publicly and instantaneously express gratitude to policymakers who champion the social and behavioral sciences?
How else could I quickly and conveniently congratulate @JosephEStiglitz for winning the 2014 Moynihan Prize?
You might be surprised to find out that your own scholarly celebrities are on twitter and interacting with people just like you. They won’t have as many followers as the Mileys and Justins of the world, so they will appreciate the twitter attention and are more likely to respond.
2. To join provocative, important conversations in real time: You may not know this, but some awesome scholarly conversations are taking place every day 140-characters-at-a-time between academic tweeters. For example, last month, the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR), and SAGE held a twitter chat to discuss how systems science can be used in public health. Questions proposed to anyone with a twitter account were answered in real time and made public instantly.
Additionally, if you are not on twitter at conferences, you might be surprised to see the conversations that your colleagues are thumbing all around you (check out some tips for live tweeting an academic event here).
Twitter is even changing the way that many do research – it can be a useful source of new research ideas or tips and a place to make connections for future collaboration (see a social media citation guide here).
3. Because you might be better at it than your students: When it comes to personal twitter profiles, I used to think that that world was made for and dominated by public figures and those from an even younger generation who may be more adept at creating pithy messages and hashtags. While I will be the first to admit that my intern is better than me at many things, I found that my experience as a professional and a researcher has given me a lot to say on the twitter feeds. While your tweets might look differently than those of your students, you have answers, experience, connections, and research that tweeters everywhere are looking for and it may be easier for you to find inspiration for a tweet than it would for them.
4. For the good of the Twitterverse: Though they may dominate the trending twitter topics, you have something to offer the social media world that the reality-TV elite do not. You can contribute a thoughtful, informed, and even helpful voice of reason to those who are misinformed and in the process of learning. If you care about a certain cause and want to involve yourself in its debate, there is no more current medium through which to do it than twitter.
Additionally, as I mentioned before, policy makers and global drivers of change are on twitter. It can become a useful tool for making a difference and for opining your thoughts, wants, and needs to government leaders (e.g. “Yes @SenatorJDoe, federal-funded psychological research does save lives”).
5. Because it’s here to stay: Whether you want to accept it or not, twitter is growing fast. According to the numbers that Twitter provided in its IPO filing, there were 151 million active tweeters in June of 2012 and 218 million in June of 2013 – that’s 44% growth in one year. Furthermore, twitter is becoming more and more popular among younger generations – your students of tomorrow.
6. (And of course) It will help you publicize your research: Twitter can become a great outlet for publicizing your new research and essentially another outlet for getting citations. It can even help you with SEO of your scholarly content. In fact, tweets are the 8th most important factor in SEO ranking (meaning the more tweets your research gets, the higher up it will be in research searches). Of course, research that is optimized for Google searches will be more discoverable, which will help both you and other researchers in your discipline to make valuable research connections.
Don’t knock it till you try it.
Just a little over a week ago, the thought of building my personal twitter profile was intimidating, not useful for professional or scholarly endeavors, and overall not the best use of my time. Now, after giving it a try, I get twitter. It is more than just a trendy social media tool and an outlet for discussing lighthearted topics. I now see it as a powerful communicative instrument that while fun to use and can lead to some very meaningful connections.
I am by no means an expert at building a personal twitter profile, but I am thoroughly enjoying the trial and error involved in getting it started and the benefits it has provided already. My tweets are mostly about public relations, social media, higher education, the social sciences, and communicating research. Feel free to join me on my journey.
This entry was posted in Opinions, SAGE Connection.
[Economist] Schumpeter’s blog about business schools approaching the future in the most unbusinesslike manner…
Those who can’t, teach
Business schools are better at analysing disruptive innovation than at dealing with it
Feb 8th 2014 | From the print edition
IN EVERY profession there are people who fail to practise what they preach: dentists with mouths full of rotten teeth, doctors who smoke 40 a day, accountants who forget to file their tax returns. But it is a rare profession where failure to obey its own rules is practically a condition of entry. Business schools exist to teach the value of management. They impart some basic principles—like setting clear goals and managing risk. They also teach how dangerous the business world has become. The most fashionable phrase today is “disruptive innovation”: professors solemnly warn people that entire industries face powerful new forces and that comfortable incumbents are at the mercy of swift-footed challengers. But when it comes to their own affairs, business schools flout their own rules and ignore their own warnings.
Opportunities abound. Demand for good management is spreading to the emerging world and to the public and voluntary sectors. The number of business schools worldwide has increased from a handful a century ago to 12,000 institutions that now deliver some form of business education—and first-class establishments are today found in Hyderabad and Shanghai as well as London and Boston. But at the same time they face huge risks. They lack barriers to entry to protect them from changes that are sweeping through the education industry. Good management could ensure that they thrive. But it is in scarce supply for two reasons.
The first is that business schools have been captured by the academic guild. In 1959 two inquiries sponsored by the Carnegie and Ford Foundations argued that business schools were little better than trade schools and urged them to be more academic. Now they are little more than flags of convenience for academics. The surest way to get a tenured post is to write a PhD (on a subject only loosely related to business) and publish a string of articles in respected journals. Tenured academics are untouchable and can block any change in a school. So far the best schools have been able to thrive despite the power of the academic guild. Academic star-power helps them to attract high-paying MBA students.
But even at the elite level the power of the academic guild can be a problem. Professors have too little incentive to focus on teaching: the best will perish unless they publish in the right journals. And they have too little incentive to produce usable research. Oceans of papers with little genuine insight are published in obscure periodicals that no manager would ever dream of reading. Innovation is fuelled by bringing ideas from different spheres together. But academics specialise in dividing the world into tiny sub-disciplines. And when you get to the fat middle of the market these problems rise to the level of dysfunction.
The second problem is a herd mentality. Business schools suffer from a bad case of Harvard and Stanford envy: they dream of having fancy buildings and star professors. But the cost of participating in the arms race is going up—Columbia Business School is spending $600m on a campus—and the supply of people who are willing to pay top-dollar for an MBA is falling. The number of people taking the GMAT, which regulates admission to many business schools, fell by 50,000 last year. The number of Americans taking the test has fallen particularly sharply, forcing mid-ranking schools to dig deeper into their admission pool or rely on recruiting Asians, who will increasingly have business schools of their own to choose from. The reason for the softening demand is that returns on investment are also falling. The Graduate Management Admission Council, which conducted a survey of graduates of American business schools, found that 8% of the class of 2012 did not have a job when they graduated.
The obvious solution for schools outside the top tier is to compete on cost or innovation. Though the average fee for an American MBA course has risen by a third over the past four years some schools, such as Cornell and Rochester, are offering shorter courses and others, including Maryland and UCLA, are forgoing the annual fee increase. Ashridge, near London, focuses on short courses for executives. But too many continue to stick their heads in the sand. Meanwhile, they face competition from companies with a monetary incentive to control costs and expand enrolment. The Career Education Corporation, an American firm, is assembling a portfolio of business-oriented institutions. Laureate Education has over 800,000 business students in 30 countries. Private schools such as these are directly challenging the faculty-dominated not-for-profit model, employing staff to teach rather than research and making it easier to combine study with work. And some consultancies and investment banks are running in-house mini-MBAs.
Mind your own business school
The result is a paradox: many of the people who run business schools are approaching the future in the most unbusinesslike manner. The mood at this year’s meeting of deans in Gothenburg, Sweden, was a mixture of gloom and fatalism. They talked about academic inflation, image problems and the threat of MOOCs or massive open online courses (see Free exchange). But they showed little confidence in their own ability to grasp opportunities or combat threats.
The deans have few levers at their disposal to reorganise their schools or cut costs: more than 80% of their bills go on academic salaries. They also have few incentives to pull what levers they have: almost all of them are former academics who are appointed for a maximum of five years. Michael Porter of HBS once warned that the most dangerous place for a business is to be stuck in the middle without an obvious advantage of cost or quality. Over the next few years a striking number of business schools are going to discover just how right he was.
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