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Social media for science communication

by Eva Amsen

Last week’s livestream was all about social media for science communication. In the video, I went over some questions that you can ask yourselves before you set up a new social media account, to help shape the account before you even launch it. You can watch the video here, or just read the summary below.

 

In this video, I went over some of the questions you can ask yourself before setting up a new social media account for a science communication project. These questions are intended to help you think about the purpose of the account, and how you’re going to manage it.

WHY

  • Why do you want to use social media for this project?

WHERE

  • Which social media platform is best for your purpose? (Where is your intended audience?)

Tips:

  • Many scientists are on Twitter, but this isn’t necessarily a popular platform for other audiences.
  • Instagram is great for visual content, but if you don’t have many visuals, it might not be the best place.

WHEN

  • When are you launching the account? At the start of a new project, or later?
  • How often will you update?
  • Is this a permanent account, or temporary?
  • Can you schedule content to appear at regular intervals?

Tips:

  • It’s better to have a regular schedule than to have bursts of activity followed by periods of silence. Plan for that.
  • If you want a social media presence for an annual event, maybe it always exists, but you only update a few weeks per year. Make that clear to your followers so they know what to expect.

 

WHO

  • Who is going to maintain this account?
  • Will multiple people have access?
  • Who is the audience?

Tip:

  • If multiple people have access, prepare guidelines for use of the account. A weekly rotation account might have guidelines about the recommended number of posts per day, for example, and you can set internal guidelines about how often to change the password.

 

WHAT

  • What kind of content will you share?
  • What will the voice or style of the account be? Serious or silly? Personal or official?

 

HOW

  • How will you develop a consistent style?
  • How will you interact with your audience? Can you actively engage them to participate, or will you just keep an eye out for spontaneous replies?
  • How will you evaluate the success of the account?

Tips:

  • Facebook pages and Instagram business accounts offer statistics that personal profiles do not have. This can help you collect some numbers about the use of the account.
  • Don’t rely entirely on numbers. Maybe your numbers are low but you can show that you have amazing engagement because you made professionally important connections that wouldn’t have happened without the account. Keep a record of those if you need to show value of the account (to a funder or superior).

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