I have several friends who are brilliant, dedicated academics. They write excellent books, teach at colleges and universities, and are standouts in their fields. You might want to know where they are speaking next and what they are currently researching, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them on the web. With few exceptions, they avoid social media like the plague.
These are not anti-social people, nor are they technology-averse. They do care that their ideas reach an interested audience, but the thought of spending a minute of their day manufacturing an online “community” is a non-starter. They are simply too busy at a very demanding job, and feel that their work should speak for itself.
What is an academic press publicist to do?
Here is my suggestion for a pain-free, virtually effortless platform for accomplished people who hate social media. It allows for easy posting of events, interviews, and articles, greatly increases visibility, but requires no social networking of any sort.
Most university faculty have a gmail account, and that’s the place to start. Open up gmail, and click on the far left side of the upper navigation bar, where it has your name with a + sign in front of it. Add three things to your Google+ profile: your headshot, where you work, and a link to your website (if you have one).Including a bio is great of course, as are links to your books, blog, LinkedIn profile, and whatever else you’ve got. But this bare-bones profile is enough to let admiring students and other followers know they have found the right person. (If you don’t have a gmail account, just create a Google+ account using your existing email and that will work fine.)
Now that you have completed this rigorous set-up, here is how to add Google+ to your workflow:
If you are giving a lecture somewhere, find the webpage announcing it and click the “+1” button that certainly resides somewhere on the page. The URL will appear in your Google+ stream, and people following you will know where to go.
If you are being interviewed on public radio, find the “G+” button on that podcast page, and instantly everyone who follows you can hear what you have to say.
The Benefits of an Archive
Many academic writers do not have a website, but eventually you may decide to create one. If links to your articles and appearances are all on Google+, you have just made your site designer’s job much easier. Those links can now be pulled onto a page without the hours it would take to hunt them all down individually.
In addition, having a Google+ profile helps you enormously in Google search. When your next book comes out people can find it, and you, with much less effort. And your Google+ links will rank far above any Rate My Professor reviews you may have.
Add-Ons for the Adventurous
Having a Google+ profile allows you to participate in video Hangouts, which are being increasingly used to conduct interviews and even hold online classes. I find the audio and video quality of Google Hangouts much better than Skype, not to mention they allow you to share Google Docs, screenshares, and presentations all within a group hangout.
There is a whole lot more you can do with Google+ of course, but I’ll leave that for others to explain. I find it a far more interesting and useful platform than Facebook these days, and managing its account settings much easier. Join in if you wish, but meanwhile thanks from the rest of us for sharing your work and ideas more broadly.