Involve is the organisation, funded by the NIHR, to support public involvement in NHS, Public health and social care research. On 24th November 2014 they launched new ‘Guidance on the use of social media to actively involve people in research’ . The guidance provides examples of ways in which different types of social media are currently being used to involve the public in research, the benefits, challenges, risks and ethics of using social media for involvement, and some top tips and things to think about.
ICMHSR has provided a case study for the guidance document: Using Twitter and a blog to identify and prioritise topics for research. It comes from the experiences of Martin Webber in using his established twitter account and blog to reach as diverse an audience as possible, but especially people with mental health experience – those using mental health services and those working in mental health.
In the case study Martin lists the challenges involved but also the power and impact of using this medium to directly contact people who were engaged in debates about mental health and its services. He sums up the piece by giving advice to other researchers about using social media to actively involve people in research:
“Think clearly about what you want to get out of it. Think about your target audience
and select the social media that this group is most likely to use. Use more than one
form of social media if possible.
“Make the requirements on people as minimal as possible – e.g. only ask one or two
“Be warm and positive and engaging and enthusiastic. Don’t assume that just
because you’ve got a good title or a catchy tweet this will come across to people.”
“People get fed up with you if you are always self-promoting, so pick different things
to tweet about, tell people about interesting articles, resources etc.”
“In the current university landscape there’s a lot of emphasis on knowledge
exchange and on impact. But you need to communicate and share what you’re doing
at the beginning of a project and on an ongoing basis. That engages people so that
when you have the results they are already interested.”