Taking active steps to managing your visibility as researcher will benefit you in the short as well as the long run. However, many researchers do not have a very positive attitude towards advertising and marketing themselves and perceive self-promotion with a negative connotation.
Self-promotion vs increasing visibility
My personal view on "self-promotion" as researcher changed when reading about fields other than academia and how industries / business make a conscious effort to advertise and market their products. This is exemplified by advertisement you see on TV for Hollywood blockbusters or a vacuum. Depending on the industry and sector up to 40% of budget are spend on marketing and advertising, whereas this is something that we as researchers barely think about as such and thus do not budget it for example in grant applications. This is not to say that self-promotion or increasing your visibility always comes with financial costs, but it will come, at minimum, come with a cost of time as you will need to at least invest time when wanting to increase your visibility.
Advertising “promoting and disseminating a product (usually using paid channels)“
Marketing “identifying the needs of customers/audience and how to address these needs”
Self-promotion “publicising your activities or yourself (sometimes forcefully)”
Who is your audience?
One key element is to identify who your audience is. Is it for example academics, the public, or other stakeholders? Is your audience in the same or a different field? Is your target audience peers, undergraduates, or professors?
Knowing who your target audience is will impact the steps you will take to increase your visibility. Importantly, even though you can start off with a pretty good idea about who your target audience is, your produced content and interactions with it are likely to reshape your initial idea of your target audience. This process includes testing your content and finding out what content or steps receive attention and interaction, allowing you to evaluate if these interactions are what you wanted to achieve. Keep in mind to stay open minded to reshape and revisit your content as well as idea of your target audience.
What do you want to achieve?
The second key element is to examine what it is you actually want to achieve.
One thing we all want is to be on Google search page number one, as we all know that no one will go to page number seven in the hope to find you.
In addition to this you can think about what it is that you really want to achieve in terms of: Do you want to establish a network, initiate active collaborations, share resources or share knowledge?
Also, increasing your visibility will bring you to the forefront of someones thoughts. So if they are looking for someone with your expertise, they are likely to think of you. To increase this even further, you will want people to take an action based on the content that you shared. For example you do not want people to read through your tweet without a like, share, or reply. These are actions which require an active step from your audience, help them to take this action by making yourself visible and your content worth an interaction.
Together, even though tempting, do not randomly attempt to increase your visibility, but think about what you are comfortable with, whom you want to reach, and what it is you want to achieve.