Research in English at Durham: Social media for engagement and outreach

Introduction

Research in English at Durham (READ) is the Department of English Studies’ multi-platform social media presence. This case study gives a brief description of how READ is used to engage current and future students and alumni, other institutions and the general public.

Research English at Durham

 Social Media Platforms

READ uses several platforms, which are all connected in different ways:

The READ WordPress site is the hub of activity, and includes blog posts (which can be articles, book reviews, guest contributions and Q&A with researchers), local events, long reads and podcasts, as well as links to other sites. Anyone who is interested can follow the blog, which at time of posting boasts well over 5,000 subscribers. The Twitter feed is embedded in this site, along with links to the Facebook page, YouTube channel, Goodreads page and Mixcloud stream.

 The READ Twitter account points followers to new WordPress site content, and supports literary activities across the region by advertising events, publications and research from other institutions and organisations.

The READ Facebook page is also updated with posts pointing to new WordPress content, events within the Department, and videos. Facebook users can follow the READ page to get the latest news and events.

The READ YouTube channel hosts all of the video content so that it can be embedded in the WordPress site. This includes lectures, footage from live events and conference presentations.

The READ Goodreads page keeps a list of books written by Durham Department of English Studies academics.

The READ Mixcloud stream hosts the main site’s podcasts. These include lectures, poetry readings and podcast series around certain topics.

The official Department of English Studies website links heavily to all of these platforms, providing links and promoting content.

Features

READ WordPress home pageCombining a number of different social media platforms allows READ to provide a range of content:

  • Text and images (directly in WordPress)
  • Audio (via Mixcloud)
  • Video (via YouTube and Facebook)

This also allows their audience to engage in a way that suits them:

  • Choosing when they go to the WordPress site
  • Following the WordPress site
  • Following the Twitter account, retweeting and tagging
  • Following the Facebook page, liking content and messaging
  • Friending the Goodreads account
  • A combination of any of the above

Cost

All of these social media platforms are free to use. Producing podcasts and video, however, could incur monetary costs (i.e. purchasing recording equipment and editing software) as well as significant time costs. Similarly, the cost in time for commissioning and editing posts is at least matched by that of the social media activity that will drive visitors to the posts themselves.

Products

WordPress guidance and how-to: Get Started – Learn WordPress
Twitter support for getting started and managing an account: Twitter Help Center
Facebook help for creating and maintaining a page: Facebook Page basics
YouTube support for creating videos and managing a channel: YouTube Help
Mixcloud FAQs: Mixcloud Support
Be sure to review the University’s guidelines on Engaging with social media

Contact

If you would like to discuss this project with someone in the Department of English Studies, please contact Dr Alistair Brown.

 

REVIEW DATE: January 2018