About 2 years ago, I joined Twitter, partially motivated by a workshop on personal branding organized by NWO, partially because I was curious for a longer time already. After dabbling around for a while, following news accounts and my favorite bands, I started seeing the possibilities more clearly.
If you're a scientist or academic, here's why Twitter could be interesting for you:
1. News on higher education
In these days of financial crisis, life in academia is rather uncertain. If you like to stay updated with what the policy makers have ready for you (or better: where they're going to cut budgets next), there are several sources which can give you news on higher education.
My personal favorites:
@GdnHigherEd - news from the Guardian about higher education
@insidehighered - higher education news
@hetlportal - higher education teaching and learning (you might like to check out their LinkedIn group as well)
2. Join the conversation about research in general
If you're a doctoral student, you can find peers from every possible field that are still confronted with the same problems and joys as you are and that are going through the same process as you. #phdchat offers a great deal of content for PhD students: weekly Wednesday night chats, and sharing of tips and tricks about doing research and writing, as well as providing an online support community.
A top 3 of tweeps to check out:
3. Join the conversation about your field
Within your field, you can identify fellow researchers, industry practitioners and companies. Although the concrete research world doesn't seem to have a lively conversation going on on Twitter (correct me if I'm wrong, and point me to the place please), I do have a few favorites to follow.
A personal top 3:
4. Share content
Once you've found your peers with whom you have a conversation going, you can easily cut and paste a link into a tweet and share content. You can share links to your papers in online archives, links to blog posts, links to presentations on Slideshare,...
5. Tweeting about conferences
More and more, conferences or events will give you a designated hashtag to allow you to comment in the sideline and make the process even more interactive. Although I haven't attended a conference yet where this really worked out and had a very lively conversation going on during the conference, I expect that this will become more and more popular in the future.
If you're interested in getting started with Twitter, here's a great post from Science has the Answer to help you out!