Several studies have shown that tweeting and blogging about scientific findings can increase their impact.
Sciam gets 1000s to 10,000s page views per blog post
Science bloggers have made significant in-roads to creating a more open access scientific communication, from pushing for open access scientific publishing, to publishing their own content under creative commons licenses. The Conversation is based on a Creative Commons publishing model that, ideally, leads to more spreadable content. Spreadable media, or media designed to spread across the web, is definitely the wave of the future. The difficult part is creating a spreadable media model that preserves scientific accuracy.
Science blogs remain more conversational and open to feedback than traditional science news media. The tone of science blogging, however, has changed over the years. Where early science blogs were largely focused on strong opinions and a chatty tone, modern science blogs run the gamut from serious science journalism to conversation between peers.
Science bloggers today are setting the stage for conversation with more complete, journalistic writing. They are often handing conversations and content over to others and asking for feedback via social media as opposed to blog comments.
The science blogosphere is increasingly taking on the structure of an ecosystem, where science blogs have a variety of functions, appearances and roles in the overall media landscape.
Science blogs as well as social networks such as Twitter are playing an increasingly important role in the work of professional science communicators and science journalists. Blogs also remain a preferred format for scientists wishing to communicate science in a longer-lived format than Tweets offer.
An important side-note, science bloggers covering new scientific research are increasingly reliant on open access scientific publishing venues. The science blogger still largely remains shut-out of traditional scientific information streams (scientific journals, embargoed science press releases, etc.)
Science blogging has traditionally served roles of media criticism, debunking and correcting misinformation, translation of scientific research and community building among scientists. Early science blogging often took the form of expressing strong opinions on what was wrong with the current state of science journalism, public perceptions of science and of life in academia.
But today, science blogging is different. It is mainstream. It has decided that it too can engage in science journalism, and be a SOURCE for science news. It curates and critically analyzes current information streams. Science bloggers entering a saturated science media ecosystem are going to greater lengths to talk about the science that DOESN’T get covered by the mainstream media. Science bloggers now place high importance on “adding value” and “advancing the conversation” around scientific issues.
We are often using science blogs as places to experiment, with new writing styles, new ways of storytelling, etc..
Social Media for Science Communication, #VIScoast 2015
Social Media for
PAIGE BROWN JARREAU
SHOW ME THE COAST 2015
What is social media?
“Social media platforms aren’t just digital water coolers. They are the way the
world is networking and communicating. They are how and where we share
information – with friends, colleagues, acquaintances and any and everyone else.”
– Christie Wilcox
Why Use Social Media?
• Boost your professional profile
• Networking, recruiting students
• Reach new audiences
• Act as a public voice for science
• Make science accessible
• Online outreach can help you get (NSF) funding!
• Open science & collaboration
"Those that have the privilege to
know, have the duty to act."
- Albert Einstein.
Know How to Use it
“Online social media tools can be some of the most
rewarding and informative resources for scientists –
IF you know how to use them.”
– Bik & Goldstein 2013, An Introduction to Social
Media for Scientists
So you want to use social media for
• Social media is SOCIAL. Two-way
communication and engagement is key.
• Social media isn’t a replacement for interesting,
original, useful and compelling content.
What gets shared?
• Social Currency – give people something
to talk about; make them feel like insiders
• Triggers – What gets more word of mouth
on social media, Cheerios or Disney
World? Hint – think “daily.”
• Emotion – science news articles are often
on the top emailed lists
“Simply put, it
emotions are high
anger, anxiety) not
What gets shared?
• Public – can people SEE it? Make it visual (think
bright yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands; Tidy Streets)
• Practical Value – Is this useful information?
• Stories – Stories are fundamentally about social
interaction – and social interaction is central for
“Fiction is great – it can help us really feel
the horror of what we’re headed for,
change our lives in a deeper way than
scientific projections alone could do, and
give us ideas to help us adapt to the
change.” – Jane Rawson
Narrative structures that have been proposed
to enhance popular interest in science:
• History – the history of a field, of
a scientific discovery
• The scientist’s story
• Drama – a problem that science
can or has solved
• The “hard-fought” discovery
• The (solved or unsolved)
• The untold story
Think about your Goals
• What do you want out of your social media
• Increased citations for your papers?
• Increased visibility of your research?
• Outlet for opinions?
• Open data and sharing?
• Translation of science for broad audience?
• Engagement with key audiences?
Think about your Audience
• Don’t assume all social media platforms are
created equal in terms of audience
• Younger audiences? Snapchat, Tumblr,
• Female audiences? Pinterest…
• Journalists? Twitter (largely a news source)…
• Other scientists? Twitter, Facebook…
• Wide audiences? Facebook (home-base)…
71% of US Internet users are on Facebook. – Heidi Cohen
BuzzFeed’s #2 source of
social media traffic
Unlock hidden beauty
in your science
A good start:
• Choose 2 key social media outlets to focus on
• Follow social media accounts of scientists, science
communicators, others w/ similar interests
• (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn)
• Bring your science to the blogosphere
• Scilogs.com has a guest blog
• Start your own blog, OR join a group blog (Wordpress,
News written by academic experts:
Become an author @
A new database of scientists online, searchable by
research interests and field of study.
• Among the commonly used social media, the
140-character microblogging service Twitter has
Followers of scientists on Twitter
Emily Darling. figshare.
A virtual department to spark
and share new ideas
• You have 140 characters
• use them wisely but accurately
• Use URL shorteners:
• Add a Hashtag (#)
• This marks it as a keyword within the Tweet and turns it into a link. Once
clicked, it will bring up a list of other Tweets that include the same keyword.
Early career researchers
“A majority of established bloggers (72% of 126
blogs surveyed) use Twitter as a complementary
outlet for disseminating new blog posts to
Shema H, Bar-Ilan J, Thelwall M (2012) Research blogs and
the discussion of scholarly information. PLoS ONE 7: e35869
Other Online Tools
• Blogs – continuous, long-form science narratives
• Facebook – networking
• Digg, Reddit – content aggregation
• Twitter – in the moment conversation, customized
news streams, building and maintaining
• Instagram – visual, simple content
• Snap chat – short video clip storytelling
• Openness and
• Spreadable and
• Blogging styles that
and open to
Trends in science blogging
• Rise of a science
• Increasing role of
science blogs and
(Twitter) in science
and science news
500 recent tweets
based on blog
moved to social
updates, links etc.
are done mainly on
social media and
many bloggers use
only for longer,
one could even say
– BoraZ, 2012
We can see different
• Traditional blog functions
• Expert opinions
• Media Criticism
• Community building among scientists
• Translation of scientific research
• New blog functions
• Science journalism
• Sources of science news
• Critical analysis
• Discussion of science missing from mainstream media
• Opening up the science research process
• Citizen science, etc.
• Adding value and advancing the conversation around scientific issues
Experimenting with Science Blogs
Lives of Scientists
Experimenting with content –
Science Book A Day
“To me, science isn’t about being told
by scientists that ‘this is science’ but
for people to build an understanding
and engagement with science in their
- Science blogger George Aranda,
Why do visuals matter online?
This is why. Do
you want to read
this blog site?
#1 – iPhone pics
#2 – Illustration Apps
Manga Camera - free
Sketch Club - $2.99
Halftone - Price: $0.99
- Import photos, choose
filter, crop, edit, move
your versatile little
thought-, word- and
around and label the
images as you feel is
Taking good mobile
• Shoot during golden hour (sunrise, sunset hours): Harsh
midday shadows can make difficult exposures with
typical smartphone sensors.
• Tap the phone to focus on objects that are close-up or
• Get closer & create depth: take detailed shots, and
getting close to your subject allows background to blur
out of focus (shallow depth of field)
• Try unique perspectives (shoot from down low or
• Bold shapes, strong highlights and shadows often make
great black and white photos.
• Upload your pictures straight to Twitter; Make FB albums
Fun & Unusual
Simple is better.
Student Lab Visits -
Looking for a home for your photos? Try Flickr.com, or
a SquareSpace or Photoshelter gallery
Need a science illustrator?
• Science Artists on Twitter -
Think Outside the Box
“To me, science isn’t about being told by scientists that
‘this is science’ but for people to build an understanding
and engagement with science in their own way.”
- Science blogger George Aranda,
Other social media tools
• SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/)
• Create podcasts – easily embed them into blog posts
• Canva – create graphics and info-graphics
• You CAN maintain scientific accuracy and rigor in
your blog posts and social media posts.
• Link to original research studies
• Remember proper attribution to pictures, statistics,
• Learn to be concise but avoid buzzwords that can be
misleading (“cure” “breakthrough”)
But what if…
• I don’t have enough time?
• It’s OK to not always keep up to date; take “vacations”
from social media
• Only post when you are motivated to do so
• Most science bloggers only post 1/week – 1/month
• Post what you are passionate about
• Make it a routine
• Post as a GROUP
Please take our workshop feedback survey!
• It’s Time for Scientists to Tweet: http://theconversation.com/its-time-for-
• Social Networking for Scientists: The Wiki
• How to Build an Enduring Online Research Presence Using Social
Networking and Open Science, SlideShare, Titus Brown
• Darling et al. (2013).The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific
• Bik, H. M., & Goldstein, M. C. (2013). An Introduction to Social Media for
Scientists. PLoS biology, 11(4), e1001535.
• Images: Flickr by Jason A. Howie; Wikipedia; Screenshots