With the growth of social media use in both the private and public spheres, researchers are currently exploring the new opportunities and practices offered by these tools in the research lifecycle. This area is still in its infancy: As methodological approaches and methods are being tested - mainly through pragmatic and exploratory approaches - practices are being shaped and negotiated by the actors involved in research. A further element of complexity is added by the ambivalent status of social media within research activities. They can be both a tool - for recruitment, data collection, analysis - and data - as what constitutes the corpus to be analysed - both in an observational and interactive domain. This synthetic analysis of the literature is aimed at identifying how social media are currently being used in research and how they fit into the research lifecycle. We identify and discuss emerging evidence and trends in the adoption of social media in research, which can be used and applied by psychiatry research practitioners as a framework to inform the development of a personalized research network and social media strategy in research.