Archive for the ‘May 2015’ Category

Hot tip: be a person not a robot

In May 2015 on May 20, 2015 at 11:27 am

robot image

Sarah: It feels like everyone is on social media now.

My sister, my dad and even my twelve year old cousin send out “selfies” and tweets onto the world wide web every single day. In Australia alone there are now more than 2.5 million tweeters, 4 million people using Instagram and nearly 14 million Facebook users (see here for more stats).

To use twitter and other social media platforms to rise above the vast online crowd and present a strong professional presence you need planning, practise, a little bit of canny and a few hot tips.

In Adelaide on Friday May 29 2015, I’ll be sharing my experiences of social media and professional development through a session on Social Brand Building, part of Digital Boot Camp – a joint production between SA Writers Centre and The Walkley Foundation.

To get everyone in the mood, I’ve compiled a few early pointers.

Here are five things you can do right now to help you develop a trusted voice on social media.

  1. Make your twitter bio meaningful

When you’re using twitter as a professional tool, your bio is the perfect opportunity to explain who you are, what you do and why people should follow you. Here’s mine (see @sciencesarah):

Freelance science writer | GradDipSciComm PhD BMedSci | I’ve got science in my life .

  1. Choose a suitable avatar

Your photo is important. Make it headshot, let people see your face and try to appear friendly. People want to know you!

  1. Be a person not a robot

Yes, platforms like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule tweets and collect statistics. But don’t become a slave to the numbers. Successful tweeting often means interacting in real time through real conversations.

  1. Different platforms demand different content

A few extra clicks will allow me to post the same image and words across my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. And yet I rarely choose to do so. Each of my accounts has a different audience and so for it to be successful I should craft different content for each platform.

  1. Don’t abuse the DM

Mutual followers/followees on twitter can DM (direct message) each other. It’s a privilege abused by many Twitter users – in my opinion, it’s overstepping the mark when you follow a fellow writer, only to have them turn around and DM you an invitation to ‘please buy their book’.

Hope to see you on May 29-30 at the SA Writers Centre for Social Media Boot Camp! See here for more information, and to book.

This post was first published by SA Writers Centre on May 19 2015. 

[Image credit: This pin-up is featured in the comic book, Unleashed #4, produced by Chalkline Studios. Shyloh is created and owned by Ed Dansart. Check out his work at]


To share or not to share

In May 2015 on May 10, 2015 at 11:24 am


Sarah: How much of ‘you’ should you reveal when you’re a blogger, a journalist or a writer? In a world of social media — where connections and share-ability matter — it’s an issue that I grapple with regularly.

I trained as a research scientist during the 1990s. Whilst things are slightly more liberal now, back then I was taught that come hell or high water, I should never dare to use personal pronouns or include my thoughts and opinions in any written materials. Science is objective. Science has procedures. Science is not influenced by emotion or personal experiences. Science has a reputation to uphold!

When I started blogging and writing for more general audiences, it took me many years to be work out the right balance of ‘being me’ in a public space. Me a scientist; but also me a writer, a citizen, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a runner, a cook, a netball coach…I think you get my drift.

Gently, slowly, I started to wrap my head around writing in the first person. Still thinking from the perspective of science, through this blog I shared experiences from my home life, my working life and many other things in between. Now I’m quite comfortable with revealing a little of myself through my words. Not too much….just a little, and only in the right context.

Like scientists, wine writers on the whole are not renowned for being liberal with personal details. Sure, they’re inclined to get a bit emotional about the 2008 Penfolds Grange, but overall they keep a lid on it.

When wine aficionado Nick Ryan began writing a regular column for Adelaide’s Sunday Mail newspaper, he too felt nervous about revealing too much of himself. Here’s a story I wrote about Nick’s shared experiences of parenting, losing a partner and the benefits that can come from letting an audience get to know you.

[Photo credit: Got Credit]