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Science and Social Media: The Importance of Being Online


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Presented to the Gemini Observatory in Hilo, HI on Sept 26th, 2013.

Published in: Technology, Business
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Science and Social Media: The Importance of Being Online

  1. 1. Science and Social Media: The Importance of Being Online Christie Wilcox University of Hawaii at Manoa
  2. 2. The Connected World of Americans use the internet 78% more than
  3. 3. The Connected World In 2000… 360,985,492 users In 2012… 2,405,510,175 users …an increase of more than 660%!
  4. 4. 1996 20061996 2006 250,000 sites 80,000,000 sites250,000 sites 80,000,000 sites 45 million users 1 billion+ users45 million users 1 billion+ users User Generated Content Collective IntelligenceCollective Intelligence
  5. 5. Internet = Information Where do you get most of your news about national and international issues? PEW Research Center, Dec 2010
  6. 6. Internet = Information Where do you get most of your news about national and international issues? (< 30 yrs old) PEW Research Center, Dec 2010
  7. 7. Internet = Information University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey (2008) Where do you get information on specific scientific issues? The Internet is the main source of information for learning about specific scientific issues such as global climate change or biotechnology
  8. 8. Internet = Communication Do you use social media? PEW Research Center, Feb 2012
  9. 9. 57% of Americans say they talk to people more online than they do in real life 57% of Americans say they talk to people more online than they do in real life
  10. 10. In 2011, social media overtook looking at porn as the number one online activity.
  11. 11. 17% of all time spent online is spent on social networking sites
  12. 12. Social Media = Internet on Steroids 15,35 8 tweets per second when Italy lost to Spain in the 2012 European Championship 684,47 8 pieces of content shared every minute on Facebook of video is uploaded to YouTube every second 1 hour
  13. 13. All The Kids Are Doing It Close to 90% of 18-30 year olds have at least one social media account… … and almost a third will check their networks before they even get out of bed.
  14. 14. All The Kids Are Doing It "Younger generations aren’t going to look for your company or society in print—they’re going to go directly to your Web site and then maybe your Facebook page, and, if interested, they will follow you on Twitter. If you’re not there, neither will they be— and you’ve lost them at a critical point of contact." - Kea Giles Managing Editor at the Geological Society of America
  15. 15. 0 20 40 60 80 OnaSocialNetwork? Average American Scientists
  16. 16. Stereotypical Scientist
  17. 17. Draw A Scientist Actual drawings made by 7th grade students when asked to draw a scientist 
  18. 18. “Can you name a living scientist?” In 2009, Research!America polled the average American to name any of the 7.1 million or so living scientists worldwide...
  19. 19. “Can you name a living scientist?” …65% didn’t even try.
  20. 20. “Can you name a living scientist?” … another 18% got it wrong… Albert Einstein? Albert Einstein? Marie Curie? Marie Curie?
  21. 21. “Can you name a living scientist?” … only 17% were able to correctly name one. Albert Einstein? Albert Einstein? Stephen Hawking! Stephen Hawking!
  22. 22. Barriers to Communication
  23. 23. - Rick E. Borchelt, Lynne T . Friedmann, & Earle Holland Managing the Trust Portfolio: Science Public Relations and Social Responsibility "The scientific community needs to understand what ethical practitioners of public relations have long known: trust is not about information; it’s about dialogue and transparency"
  24. 24. 1. Know your audience 2. Identify precise, key main messages 1. One size does not fit all 2. Learn from your experience Successful Science Communication
  25. 25. 1. Know Your Audience
  26. 26. NOT “Dumbing Down” This is not your audience…. … THIS is your audience
  27. 27. 2. Identify Precise, Key Messages Imagine you have exactly five minutes in an elevator with an influential potential funder… What would you want to say?
  28. 28. 2. Identify Precise, Key Messages You need to focus on what matters so your target audience isn’t overwhelmed.
  29. 29. 3. One Size Does Not Fit All
  30. 30. 3. One Size Does Not Fit All ≠ ≠ ≠ What works for others may not be right for you!
  31. 31. 4. Learn From Your Experience You have to know what you’re hoping to accomplish… … and, most importantly, how you measure success
  32. 32. 4. Learn From Your Experience MessageMessage Methods & Strategy Methods & Strategy MeasureMeasure Success!Success!
  33. 33. The Social Media Landscape
  34. 34. Diversity of Access Points
  35. 35. Beyond Computers Just shy of 50% of Americans own a smartphone, and two thirds of them will use it to access the internet on a daily basis.
  36. 36. Niche Uses
  37. 37. Niche Uses While these are useful in certain contexts, I won’t be talking about them
  38. 38. The Big Ones
  39. 39. Digital Water Coolers • Chat • Discuss • Share • Gossip • Debate • Connect • Keep In Touch
  40. 40. Blogs, Wikis, Websites
  41. 41. Content Producers & Curators
  42. 42. Multimedia Creation & Curation
  43. 43. Creative Content Multimedia that can supplement other content… … or stand alone • Videos • Podcasts • Music • Images • Artwork
  44. 44. Networking
  45. 45. Digital Business Cards & Resumes
  46. 46. It’s All About Synergy!
  47. 47. Online Communities
  48. 48. of internet users are. of < 30 y.o. use it as their primary news source million links are shared every hour Don't think you need to be on Facebook?
  49. 49. The Largest Social Network
  50. 50. Bigger IS Better more people means more possibility to your efforts!
  51. 51. • For an individual • Viewed by friends, subscribers • Many privacy options • No statistics • Is you • Single administrator • For organizations, things, celebrities • Viewed by fans/anyone • Public • Provides some analytics • Can be separated from individuals • Can have many administrators Which? Depends on what you want to use Facebook for!
  52. 52. Professional Networking Keeping in Touch Sharing Personal Opinions Smaller Network Privacy Finding/Creating an Audience Separating Work from Home Large Fan/Interest Base Lots of Contributors Exposure
  53. 53. The Privacy Issue “Participants who accessed the Facebook website of a teacher high in self-disclosure reported higher levels of teacher credibility than participants who viewed a low self- disclosure Facebook website” The key? be not
  54. 54. Don’t Think You Need To Be On Google +? “Facebook is about connecting to people through who you know; and Google Plus is about connecting to people through what you know.” — Kysimir, Soliloquy of Eloquence
  55. 55. Google+: Superior Sorting and Filtering
  56. 56. Google+: Easier to Find Interesting People
  57. 57. Google+: Video Integration
  58. 58. Facebook Success Stories: Collective Intelligence “In less than 24 hours, this approach identified approximately 90 percent of the posted specimens to at least the level of genus, revealed the presence of at least two likely undescribed species, indicated two new records for Guyana and generated several loan requests.” — Smithsonian blog post “We didn’t have really the time or resources to [identify the specimens] the way that we would traditionally do it” — Brian Sidlauskas, lead scientist
  59. 59. Facebook Success Stories: Big Data
  60. 60. Google + Success Stories: Virtual Astronomy “We pull together live feeds from multiple telescopes around the world and broadcast them into a live Google+ hangout… The response has been overwhelming, as we’ve made it possible for people without telescopes or who have cloudy skies a chance to see the night sky from the comfort of their home.” — Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today
  61. 61. Microblogs A web service that allows users to broadcast short messages to other subscribers of the service
  62. 62. #1 Microblogging Platform: Twitter "The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what make it so powerful." Jonathan Zittrain Harvard University Law professor and Faculty Co- Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
  63. 63. 1 billion new tweets every 3 days million active users per month 200 20% of online Americans use twitter, and the numbers keep rising Don't think you need to be on Twitter?
  64. 64. 5,106 Tweets Per Second Speed and Virality: A Case Study
  65. 65. Speed and Virality: A Case Study
  66. 66. in 48 48 hours. Speed and Virality: A Case Study > 80,000> 80,000 pageviewspageviews ……
  67. 67. Speed and Virality: A Case Study
  68. 68. Why Statisticians Love Twitter “The rate at which people produce tweets about movies can accurately forecast the box office revenue of the film, but only after it is released. And the predictions from tweets are more accurate than any other method of forecasting.” — MIT Technology Review
  69. 69. Why Statisticians Love Twitter “Measuring how calm the Twitterverse is on a given day can foretell the direction of changes to the Dow Jones Industrial Average three days later with an accuracy of 86.7 percent.” — Lisa Grossman, Wired Magazine
  70. 70. Twitter Predicts Citations (in bottom and top quartile of tweets within 1 week) Highly tweeted papers were 11x more likely to be highly cited!
  71. 71. Twitter 101 A brief introduction to the Twitterverse
  72. 72. Filtering The Deluge You have to accept the fact that you cannot, and will not, see everything.
  73. 73. The Lingo Username or Handle: this is your identifier, your Twitter “Name”. It is how users will identify you. Following and Followers: your twitter stream consists of tweets from the people you choose to follow, much like an aggregation of subscriptions. Others who follow you, called your followers, have your tweets appear in their twitter stream. Username A running tally of a user’s followers and who they follow The follow button: click to follow this user
  74. 74. The Lingo Tweet: tweets are your method of communication via twitter, and are limited to 140 characters. Twitter automatically shrinks links of any size to 20 characters to help them fit. Click on this symbol in the menu bar to compose a new tweet. A window will open that looks like this:
  75. 75. The Lingo Direct Message: a direct message or “DM” is a tweet that is only viewable by the user it is sent to, like the twitter version of a text or email. You can only send DMs to people who follow you. Favorites: Favorites allow you to like a tweet or save it for later without passing it along to your followers. Lists: Twitter allows you to create public and private lists which can be used to filter different groups of twitter users. You can look at the stream of tweets from a list rather than your whole feed. The lock symbol indicates a list is “private”, or only visible to youClicking here will show you all of the tweets you have favorited
  76. 76. The Lingo Interactions: all of the ways other tweeters interact with you. Interactions include new follows, if you’re added to a public list, mentions, retweets and favorites by others of your tweets. Mentions: placing @ symbol before a username links a tweet to their account. Such mentions can be used to reply to a tweet, or simply draw another user’s attention. Retweets: A special category of mentions, retweets are one of the fundamental twitter interactions. By clicking the square arrow symbol, you pass along another’s tweet in its entirety. You can also add commentary to another’s tweet by adding your two cents then pasting their tweet after the letters “RT” (retweet) or “MT” (modified tweet, if you had to alter their tweet to fit.) Click to see your interactions How mentions appear in tweets:
  77. 77. The Lingo Hashtag: the # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. You can search twitter by hashtags, and thus follow the stream of tweets related to your interest without following every person that might tweet about it. For example, the conference hashtag #AAASmtg curates tweets related to the American Academy of Sciences annual meetings. When used correctly, hashtags are powerful ways of filtering through the deluge of tweets. Search for hashtags An example hashtag stream
  78. 78. “If you have, say, a thousand followers on Twitter, that’s like talking to a large auditorium every time you tweet something about your science: a powerful tool indeed. A direct line like that means the scientist can ensure that their science is accurately portrayed and that they have an opportunity to share with the public the personal passion that drives them to science in the first place.” Twitter Success Stories: The Power of Twitter
  79. 79. Twitter Success Stories: Live-Tweeting An Expedition “We had arranged a text to donation number, and I tweeted that every dive in PNG cost us about $5USD and that $5 donations to support the expedition could be made by texting the number. That single tweet raised a couple of hundred dollars.” Joshua Drew, lead scientist
  80. 80. Twitter Success Stories: Online Journal Club “I have read papers that I would never otherwise have come across and I have had the chance to discuss microbiology papers with other microbiologists which results in different discussions to the ones that happen at the more general journal club I attend at university.” — Zoonotica, PhD Student
  81. 81. Microblogging Success Stories: Changing Stereotypes “The project was definitely a huge success…. The site had over 100,000 unique visitors in the first month alone. The website was initially shared on Twitter in nearly 20 different languages, and visitors have come from all around the world.” — Allie Wilkinson, co-founder
  82. 82. What is a Blog? “Defining a science blog – heck, just defining a blog – is difficult. After all, a blog is just a piece of software that can be used in many different ways.” — Bora Zivkovic, Blogs Editor Scientific American
  83. 83. A Brief History of Blogging First online diary Term “weblog” coined “Blog” usage spreads First platforms emerge Bloggers become influential and trusted as news and information sources Blogging becomes ‘mainstream’ 1994 1997 1999 2003 Google acquires Blogger 2006 Science blog networks first emerge Today RSS is born
  84. 84. RSS: Digital Subscriptions RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.
  85. 85. The Emergence of Science Blogs
  86. 86. Blogs: The New Frontier “A new generation of young researchers has grown up with an ever-present Internet. Publishers have been quicker than academics to react to this new world, but scientists must catch up. Even if you choose not to blog, you can certainly expect that your papers and ideas will increasingly be blogged about. So there it is — blog or be blogged.” — Paul Knoepfler, Research Scientist & Blogger
  87. 87. Major Blogging Platforms
  88. 88. To determine whether fish were responding to chemical cues from the seaweed or the coral, we used 60-ml syringes to pull in situ seawater from: among the filaments of C. fastigiata alone, the C. fastigiata–A. nasuta contact area with C. fastigiata still present, the C. fastigiata–A. nasuta contact area after removing C. fastigiata 20 min earlier (allowing loss of algal odor but retention of odor from the damaged coral), and the water column well away from the benthos (as a control) and then slowly released these odors into corals containing G. histrio. Olfactory cues from C. fastigiata alone generated no response by the goby. In contrast, odors from the coral-algal contact point or from the stressed coral alone caused 17 and 19, respectively, of the goby pairs in 20 separate A. nasutacolonies to move toward the odor source. Thus, the goby responds to chemical cues from the host coral, not to cues from the seaweed (Fig. 2, Υ = 559.12, df = 2, P < 0.001; G test,). Clarity, Without Jargon ...the scientists took water samples from next to undamaged corals, corals damaged by algae while the algae was still present, corals damaged by algae after the algae was removed, and the algae alone away from coral. They exposed gobies to these water samples and watched how they responded. In less than 15 minutes, gobies were drawn to the water from damaged corals, but didn’t react to the chemical signature of algae by itself. “We found that the gobies were being “called to” the area damaged by the algae, and that the “call” was coming from the damaged coral, not from the seaweed.”
  89. 89. “I view it as a fundamental part of my job as a scientist and an educator. I use social networking to follow the literature, to do outreach, to communicate with colleagues, etc.” - Jonathan Eisen Blogging Success Stories: Enhancing The Network
  90. 90. Blogging Success Stories: Research & Peer Review “Their most striking claim was that arsenic had been incorporated into the backbone of DNA, and what we can say is that there is no arsenic in the DNA at all” — Rosie Redfield ,
  91. 91. What is a Wiki? “Wikis create a sense of shared knowledge, which may be carried across courses, curricula, or countries.” — Toby Coley, Wikis in Writing Education Research
  92. 92. Wikipedia “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.” — Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
  93. 93. Free Wiki Platforms/Software
  94. 94. Innovative Uses: Open Notebooks
  95. 95. Innovative Uses: Evolving Resources
  96. 96. Be Creative
  97. 97. Why Do Visuals Matter? • More than 1/3 — 36% — of tweets are images • Articles with images get 94% more total views • Including a photo and a video in a press release increases views by over 45% • Photo and video posts on Pinterest refer more traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn and Google +
  98. 98. Images A picture is worth a thousand words. Photograph from the mid-1870s of a pile of American bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer Five United States Marines and a United States Navy corpsman raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi; by Joe Rosenthal
  99. 99. We ALREADY Visualize Science! An animated gif of MRI images of a human headGraph of global temperatures over time
  100. 100. Visualizing Science: GIS
  101. 101. Visualizing Science © Dave Beck & Jennifer Jacquet
  102. 102. Image Platforms
  103. 103. Video On Facebook, videos are shared 12x more than links & text posts combined
  104. 104. Video Platforms
  105. 105. Audio
  106. 106. Podcasts
  107. 107. Podcasts
  108. 108. Creative Outlets
  109. 109. The Best Part: Integration Multimedia reaches out to a diverse set of learning styles and appeals to a broader audience Most social media platforms, from twitter to blogs, allow you to enhance text posts with images, video and more
  110. 110. “Facebook” For Scientists
  111. 111. ResearchGate
  112. 112.
  113. 113. 115 Data And Other Products
  114. 114. Reference Management
  115. 115. Crowdsourced Funding
  116. 116. Bringing It All Together Most likely, a combination of platforms and media types will be the best way to achieve your goals.
  117. 117. Return on Investment Figure 1. Monthly audience by communication methodology shown on a linear scale. Filled bars indicate traditional methodologies and unfilled bars indicate online methodologies. Data sources are as follows: 1. estimate; 2. estimate; 3. Scientific American (; 4. San Diego Union-Tribune (; 5. New York Times (; 6. Twitter (; 7. Wordpress (; 8. Facebook ( Numbers reflect the potential monthly audience for each medium, and not necessarily the number of users who access a particular content item on that medium. All data accessed on January 22, 2013 and normalized to monthly views. Social media is the definition of “Broader Impacts”
  118. 118. Setting Up An Action Plan Goals What are you trying to achieve? Actions What platforms? How often? Metrics How will you know if things are working? How will you judge performance? Personal Responsibility Who does what? Be EXPLICIT. Review and Revise Track impacts, change actions etc as necessary.
  119. 119. Start by asking yourself: “Why?” GoalsGoals ActionsActions
  120. 120. Measuring Success • Citations • Pageviews • Tweets, shares, likes • Community involvement • Fundraising • Attendance at events • …
  121. 121. Measuring Success
  122. 122. Measuring Success “Coming up with good metrics requires some critical thinking. Don’t rely solely on the easy analytics, like pageviews. Spend some time and mental energy to figure out what you really want… then spend some more time and mental energy to come up with meaningful ways to determine whether you’re getting it.” — Matt Shipman, PIO and Science Writer
  123. 123. Tragedy of the Commons Especially for groups or organizations… be explicit about who is responsible for what
  124. 124. If At First You Don’t Succeed… No one expects you to get everything right the first time. • Use your metrics • Experiment with new techniques and ideas • See what works and what doesn’t • Tweak the plan along the way
  125. 125. One more time… Goals What are you trying to achieve? Actions What platforms? How often? Metrics How will you know if things are working? How will you judge performance? Personal Responsibility Who does what? Be EXPLICIT. Review and Revise Track impacts, change actions etc as necessary.
  126. 126. The Internet is Yours!