A March 5 article by Safiya Merchant in The University Record, “#SocialScholars: Professors show power of public engagement,” highlights the growing use of social media among University of Michigan professors.
Merchant writes that social media use is a powerful strategy for public engagement and “has allowed [U-M faculty members] to influence journalists and policymakers, conduct research, connect with others and gain professional opportunities.”
Justin Wolfers, who now has over 141,000 followers on Twitter, “originally thought the idea of Twitter sounded like ‘nonsense’ and wouldn’t work,” writes Merchant.
After creating an account in 2011, Wolfers started experimenting with how Twitter affected his day by flipping a coin every morning. If it landed on heads, he would open his Twitter account.
“He soon realized that every day he hoped it would come up heads,” says Merchant.
Today, Wolfers has embraced the power of social media to directly reach journalists, policymakers, and the public.
“Sometimes the most productive thing I will do in a single day might be a tweet,” he says in the article. “That tweet might cause every journalist to write a deep dive on a particular topic or it might cause a policymaker to rethink an issue. And that’s a tremendous privilege.”