How to use Twitter for EU funded projects dissemination? 

The European Union (EU) has high expectations of participants in EU funded projects in terms of ​communication​ and ​dissemination​ efforts.

Ema Pavlović | Jun 8. 2020
Horizon 2020 (H2020): Twitter for EU funded projects dissemination

The European Union (EU) has high expectations of participants in EU funded projects in terms of ​communication​ and ​dissemination​ efforts. All EU funded projects need to communicate about their project activities “​throughout its entire lifetime​”. It is especially true for the latest Horizon 2020 (H2020) Programme which started in 2014.

H2020 or the 9th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation has put an emphasis on project dissemination activities. Because EU citizens finance the Programme, its beneficiaries are advised to put more effort into ways of reaching and engaging with them.

Impact is crucial criteria of the H2020 program. It will become even more important in the next framework programme Horizon Europe, starting in January 2021. Beneficiaries of EU funding will be expected to enhance their dissemination activities to engage with society.

Thus, dissemination is more oriented on project results and how to share them with potential users. Those are peers in the industry field, policy-makers and various commercial organisations. Better dissemination means contributing to the scientific community, but also having a bigger impact on society. In particular, the European Commission encourages recipients of grants to use ​social media​ during the H2020 programme to reach broader audiences.

Strategic approach to communication and dissemination could help boost the project's visibility. Basics of a good dissemination plan start with answering these three questions:

  • What is the key message of the project?

To answer this question, summarise the added value of your project in a sentence by asking “Why should anyone care about this project?” It is important that your key message is clear and comprehensive to lay audiences, but also to peers, stakeholders and journalists.

  • Who is the target audience?

Who would you like to reach with your key messages? Who might be interested in your project? Who might find your project useful? Try to identify influential people and organizations related to your project topic. Identifying them will help to plan your dissemination activities. If you have a clear idea of your target audience, it would be even easier for you to identify and reach influencers afterwards.

  • How to reach them?

What are the media channels your targeted audience uses the most? Do they read newspapers or do they prefer social networks? Are they active on social media or they prefer emails?

Answering those questions will give you a clear direction for your dissemination activities. In this article we will focus on how to use Twitter for effective project dissemination.

Twitter: number one social media for EU research  

During the last couple of years, Twitter became much more than a chatty platform. It has the power to reach the broadest audiences in a short time. ​Many scientists and researchers​ use it on a daily basis. They follow discussions, engage with other peers, share relevant information and their work. It is also an essential online media channel for every organization. You can also reach stakeholders and policy-makers on Twitter. Because of that, it might be worth dedicating time to work out Twitter strategies for your dissemination plan.

The first step would be to create a Twitter account for your project. A Twitter profile allows you to add your project's logo and a banner, description, and the website link.

One of the things associated with Twitter is hashtag #. It serves to grab attention to a certain words of your posts and emphasise your expertise on this topic. You could use hashtags in the description too. It makes it easier to search and find your project.

Find and follow influential people and organizations you defined as your target audiences. The unwritten rule of Twitters is to follow back the people who followed you. It is a great way of expanding your network and gaining visibility for your project.

Thus, to maximize the visibility of your EU funded project, keep in mind you need to be active on Twitter. Due to the short lifetime of a tweet, marketing experts suggest tweeting at least 3 times per day. It might not be relevant for an EU funded project, but aim to post on a regular basis.

There are several options of what you can post on Twitter and there are limitations to it as well. Adding a picture or a video to your post will increase the chance to reach more people. Tweets that include pictures have 89% more likes than those without. Videos are six times more likely to be “retweeted”. Video is the best performing content, not only on Twitter, but on other social media too. It might be worth checking video production companies such as Science Explainers​ that can help your content stand out and reach more people. Keep in mind that minimal picture dimension is 600 x 335 pixels and it should be less than 5 MB size. Minimum dimensions for a video is 32 x 32 pixels, its size limit is 512 MB, and it should not exceed 2 minutes 20 seconds.

If you want to write a post, remember that the limit is 280 characters. That includes the hashtags and mentioned people you can tag in your post. That is one the most effective ways of gaining new followers and increasing the visibility of your project. Also, do not hesitate to add the following accounts from the EU officials: @Cordis, @EU_Commission, @EU_H2020, @ERC_Research, @EU_Growth. They often assist in disseminating efforts by resharing or “retweeting” the posts they are mentioned in.

Events, the perfect time to tweet

Planning a Twitter campaign around events relevant to your project is highly recommended. Those could be scientific conferences, presentations, meetings - defined in your project Description Of Actions or in the Dissemination Plan.

Events usually have specialised hashtags. If you monitor and use those hashtags, you might discover and engage with new influencers.

There are several moments in an event timeline you could use to increase the visibility of your project:

  • you could announce that you (or partners) will attend the event one month ahead of it
  • explore and follow the event account and the ones of the organizers a few days before the event
  • tweet about your arrival using the event's hashtag and a nice picture of the venue
  • engage in conversation during the event using the event's hashtag, if relevant, redirect to your project website
  • share interesting quotes and tag the speakers
  • after the event, you could use the opportunity to tweet your reflection on it

Report your dissemination activities

Keep in mind that you will need to report on your dissemination activities. It could be a lot of extra working hours if you don't organize well beforehand. Reporting the social media activities can be especially challenging: should you report all single posts or only monthly statistics? Having your activities organized by campaign (per event or per publication) will really help both reporting consistently and monitoring your actual performances.

To ease the reporting efforts, think about project management tools. One of those solutions is EMDESK. Their tool is a project management software that allows you to log all dissemination activities during the project. It is especially useful for EU research programs such as H2020 where the majority of projects are collaborative. Deploying such European management tool might help you and your partners execute the project without worries.

These are only a few steps to enhancing dissemination activities. There many other ways that your project could benefit from. Some ideas can be found in ​the original article published by Labs Explorer.

Ema Pavlović, communication and marketing manager at Labs Explorer.

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