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Digital Creativity: a Practical Guide

Creative social media

A practical guide to getting digitally creative and using digital tools and technologies to explore work, ideas, and research.

Using social media creatively

There's a good chance you're already using social media (and we have guidance on choosing platforms and etiquette, but you might not have considered the creative power of social media and how you might use it in different ways to engage and inform.

Thinking outside the social media box

There are many ways to use social media platforms and many platforms out there to choose. Maybe you're already using it for personal communication, for promoting your work, for public engagement, or many other possible things. Some of the best uses of social media involve thinking outside the box, whether that is doing something unusual for the type of content or for the platform itself.

For example, Twitter, a microblogging site designed for short messages, has been used effectively as a place for interactive stories, by using the Threads feature to take users down certain paths. As one example, the Tower of London did a Twitter thread interactive game that involved being a priest trying to escape the tower. Other Twitter threads may not be interactive, but can contain bitesized narratives that may or may not be true.

Social media can also easily contain quizzes, whether these are just videos of questions (in the case of YouTube or TikTok), polls, images, or text. These can be a good way of engaging people, especially if you manage to make the quiz something everybody wants to play.

The real question is, what do you want to engage your audience with? Keep your focus on what you want them to take away from the experience and then start thinking of different ways of communicating this. Then, think about which platform your audience is on and what features you could utilise, whilst also bearing in mind you don't want to spam or annoy people.

Our guidance on using social media platforms and how to use them for research will help you make good choices when thinking about using social media more creatively:

Creating assets for social media

One way you can be more creative with social media is to think about the assets like images and videos that you create for them. Some platforms like Instagram and TikTok do have built in editing abilities, but depending on what you're doing and what platform you're using, you might want to use other media editing tools and then add those creations to your posts.

Think creatively about your images and videos. It is often better to use text to get across information, as this is more accessible than including text in images which then need extensive alternative text to be usable with screen readers, so you can be more creative with images, thinking about what might engage audiences. Don't forget that as well as needing alternative ('alt') text for all images on social media, you'll need captions for videos, to ensure everyone can enjoy their content.

Working with social media data creatively

You might want to work with social media data, aka data that is taken from social media sites. If this is other users' data (i.e. not your own), then you'll need to bear in the mind the University's guidelines on using this kind of data.

You can do a lot with social media data, but one way to get creative with your own social media data is to think about how you might display and visaualise it in creative ways. For example, you might create a self-portrait of yourself made of some of your social media data, to explore what that says about you. Below you'll find slides from a previous session on this topic:

Think about how you might creatively represent social media data in ways that others can engage with. You can bring what are quite dull stats to life with a bit of creativity.