8.6- Social media
So you can follow a wide variety of conversations, and hashtags, and different handles, and you're kind of invisible, which is, I point out, not to encourage spying, but to say that when you are tweeting, you don't necessarily know how many people are seeing your content. Okay, Stanford Bio-X tweeted Carolyn Bertozzi created a chemical lawn mower as a novel method for cancer, immunotherapy. So I want to talk more quickly about Facebook because, I think, its a less effective way of reaching a general audience.
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I’m Amy Adams, Director of Science Communication, at Stanford University. And today we’re going to talk about social media for Science Communication. And, in this presentation, I’m talking specifically about trying to use social media to talk about science to a general public audience. So many scientists might also use social media to talk amongst themselves. Which is also a very effective use of some forms of social media. But that is not what I’m going to be talking about today. I’ll be thinking specifically about how would a person who maybe is a scientist or is engaged in science. Would use social media to talk about that science with the general audience. And the big picture of why you would want to use social media to communicate your science is that’s really where people are. If you’re going to talk about something and you want people to hear it, you better be in the room with the most people. So I think of social media as a bit of a fruit salad. There are many different kinds of social media. And they all contribute in different ways to the great fruit salad of communications. But they are not all the same. So you have something like Twitter, Twitter has an enormous following. You can reach a huge amount of people with Twitter. But Twitter is like the little blueberries in your fruit salad, tasty but really small bites. You’ve got stuff like Facebook and Instagram where you will get a more moderate number of people seeing what you have done. But you can also convey more information, you’re not limited to 140 characters. And then a blog or there’s a new blogging platform many people will have heard of called Medium. And those are places where you could talk at length about science, explain anything you want. But you’re going to have a much smaller readership. So you can give a lot more information to a much smaller number of people. And navigating which of these is best depends on what you’re trying to achieve. So it really depends on the kind of fruit salad you want. And understanding these different tools can help you figure out what it is that you want to use to achieve whatever your goal may be. Okay, so the first question you want to ask yourself before diving into social media is, why are you engaged in it? What is your point? So back to the fruit salad analogy, how are you going to try to figure out which fruit you want in your salad? If you haven’t thought first about what kind of salad you’re trying to make. So what are you trying to convey to people? So there’s a number of different reasons why people within science engage in social media. So at an academic level, we’re at Stanford, people would engage in social media to help promote Stanford. And the research that goes on here. Or promote a particular cause if someone is very interested in environmental issues or energy issues or the arts. They would want to promote that worldview or that cause. Show thought leadership, kind of be someone who’s worth following. Engage with people. So talk about these issues in a way that other people might want to comment on or engage with you on. You might want to be driving traffic to a website or a blog. Or promote a personal brand. Maybe you want to be the person who is the go-to on some particular issue. Or just connect with like-minded people. You want to think through this before you engage in social media. In part because social media takes time. And why spend that time if you’re not pretty sure you know what you’re going to achieve? So, I mentioned at the beginning that if you have something to say, you want to be in the room where most of the people are. And that room is social media these days. The Pew Research Center has done some really good polls on how people are using social media. And so, I just wanted to provide some numbers. One of the questions was, what percentage of social media users get their news from those channels? And this shows for both Twitter and Facebook. Between 2013 and 2015 numbers have gone up considerably for people who get news and information from social media. And then the next graph shows what percentage of people who get their news from those channels try to keep up in a pretty current way from those channels. And you’ll see that 59% of people who get news from Twitter are really trying to keep up in a very current way. So it’s definitely an engaged audience. And then in terms of the number of people using Twitter or Facebook who follow news outlets. You see Twitter users are much more likely to follow news outlets than Facebook. Issue-based groups roughly similar, political party definitely Twitter. People on Twitter are often there to follow specific topics of information. Whereas Facebook can be used to follow your mother and your aunts and uncles and your friends from high school. And also maybe a news organization. So it’s a little less focused. Okay, since Twitter might be new for some people, I’m going to go over what a tweet looks like. So that we are all talking the same language. So this is a tweet from the Woods Institute. Which is an environmental institute here on campus, that I happen to like. And this tweet has all the relevant elements, so I’m using this. So there’s an image off to the side, that’s the profile image. So whatever image you upload into your Twitter profile is going to show right there. And if it’s a busy picture of you and your entire lab what it’s going to look like in a Twitter feed is a tiny little blob. So you want an image there that people can actually see and will remind them of who that tweet is from. Okay, your handle, so at the top, it’ll be your name and your handle. You want to pick a handle that is indicative of who you are. So that when people see the handle they know who they are seeing it from. All right, so within a tweet, you can use hashtags. And these indicate topics people might want to follow. So you don’t want to hashtag every word in a tweet because that’s annoying. And it wastes characters because you’re using the hashtag all the time. But the hashtag can indicate a topic a person might want to follow. So in this case, the Woods Institute is assuming that there might be people out there on Twitter who are following the hashtag #climate. Those people might not know about the Woods Institute, might be following the Woods Institute. But by putting the hashtag climate in their tweet this tweet will show up for someone who’s following a climate conversation. So hashtags are a great way of getting your tweet in front of people who are following a topic or a conversation. But might not know about You. Okay, so in this case, in their tweet they refer to Stanford, and to do that they used the handle for Stanford. So what that means is that Stanford will see that tweet, and people following the handle Stanford will see that tweet. So it’s another way of getting your tweet in front of people who might be following a particular handle. Here is a URL so that people who think this tweet is interesting can click the URL and learn more. So this is a way to get more bang out of your tweet. So you only have 140 characters including spaces in your tweet, so you cannot say a lot, but if you are sufficiently compelling in your tweet you can drive people to a URL that has quite a bit more information, and then an image. Tweets with images, you’re going to get more engagement, more retweets, more people clicking the URLs. That’s just the world we live in these days, people like good images. Okay, and there’s a bunch of different ways of following tweets. So, I would encourage people to go into Twitter, you don’t have to have an account to look at tweets. So people who are maybe not ready to jump in can still get a sense of what’s out there. But you can look at tweets in a bunch of different ways. So one is, if you do have an account, you can go find a whole bunch of people to follow. So I follow several different science journalists. I follow a bunch of scientists who are really interested on Twitter and I follow a couple of science organizations, because I think those are the people who are tweeting about things I care about, and this is an actual snapshot of my feed. So what you’ll see is a mix of tweets from a number of different kinds of people, all about fascinating science. So that’s one way of doing it. You can only look at tweets this way if you have an account and you go in and specifically decide to follow people. Okay, in this case we’re looking at tweets by a specific Twitter handle. So this is Stanford Bio-X which is a great life sciences institute on campus, on Stanford campus, and so if I were to follow Bio-X on Twitter, this is what I might see, a bunch of interesting tweets about the research that going on in the institute. You’ll see images. You see a quote from a new story. You see something from Stanford Medicine that they retweeted. So you can look at tweets this way without an account. You can go to any handle within Twitter and you can look at everything they’ve posted and it will just update automatically as those people post. So this is one way of looking at tweets, and finally, these are my tweets and retweets, so you can follow an individual person. So you can see that kinds of things that I’ve tweeted myself or retweeted. All right, my favorite way of doing all these different things is in Tweetdeck. So, you can go to twitter.com and you can look up tweets in many different ways. I guess I didn’t show here you could, one of the ways of looking at tweets could have been to look at particular hashtag. I didn’t showed you guys that. Within Tweetdeck you can have several columns and each one could be looking at a different set of tweets. So at any one time, I show a three columns here, I generally have four or five open. I’m following Bio-X, I’m following what appears to be the middle column, people who I follow, and it looks like I’m following immunotherapy on that other side, the hashtag immunotherapy. So there’s a great quote. I tried to look this up and I don’t know who it’s by. Keep your friends close, and your enemies in a Tweetdeck column. Kind of the point here, keep your enemies in a Tweetdeck column, people don’t need to know that you’re following them. So if you specifically go in and click, I, Amy Adams, want to follow you, Stanford Bio-X, they can see that I’m following them. But if I’m just following a hashtag none of these people know that I’m following them. Their tweet appeared in my Tweetdeck column just because I was following that hashtag. So you can follow a wide variety of conversations, and hashtags, and different handles, and you’re kind of invisible, which is, I point out, not to encourage spying, but to say that when you are tweeting, you don’t necessarily know how many people are seeing your content. It can spread far and wide. Okay, so I want to show a case story of a series of tweets. So, this is the headline of a story I wrote, Stanford chemists developing new method of cancer immunotherapy, nice, straightforward headline. Stanford University, on their channel tweeted this, a team led by Carolyn Bertozzi has developed a new approach Approach to cancer immunotherapy. A nice, straightforward tweet with a link, and a nice image of Carolyn and her students. Okay, Stanford Bio-X tweeted Carolyn Bertozzi created a chemical lawn mower as a novel method for cancer, immunotherapy. So this is a little spunkier, but still a pretty straightforward description of what they did. In this case, we inserted the #cancer and #immunotherapy with the idea that there might be people out there following the words cancer and immunotherapy, because those are hot topics, and Stanford University did not do that. So I myself tweeted, I always enjoy working with Carolyn Bertozzi. This time she created a novel method for cancer immunotherapy. So this is an important transition. When tweeting as myself, I try to make it personal. I’m tweeting as me. If people are going to follow me, it should be because they are learning something about me, what I’m doing, what I’m interested in. It should be personal and real. Scientists who tweet very impersonally, who tweet more like a Stanford University or Stanford Bio-X, it is going to be harder to reach a large number of people, because you sound aloof, and remote, and not real. I think Twitter is a place where people can get an inside into what it’s like to be a scientist, and be doing scientist, and sort of show what’s real, and interesting, and exciting in science. So, when you start thinking about tweeting, think about how you can be you. A real person tweeting. This is the headline for a blog that then also got written. Another nice straightforward headline, and then Stanford Medicine Tweeted that blog to say Stanford researchers developed a new target for immunotherapy, sugars, with a link to the blog entry. So back to a more Stanford University style. So before I move on to Facebook, I want to give a summary of Twitter. And that is it’s incredibly powerful, you can reach an incredible number of people. You can also spend an extraordinary amount of time following people, and seeing what people are saying. And trying to get a sense of what’s out there. It’s both powerful and time consuming, so it is worth thinking about what you are going to achieve before you dive in. It’s also worth following a number of other scientists for a while, maybe a good couple of weeks. To see what other people are saying, what kinds of success they are having, what kind of Twitter style seems natural and people are having success with? Before you jump in, before you’d make that time commitment. So I want to talk more quickly about Facebook because, I think, its a less effective way of reaching a general audience. And that’s because people will follow organizations to learn what’s going on within organizations. Facebook is incredibly image and video driven. If you don’t have good images or videos, your Facebook post will not go far. It is a hard way to really spread much information, because you’re restricted by who you’re friends with. So if you are something like Science Friday, Calacademy, some other people, they can get pretty, pretty widespread viewership. But even they have to work very hard to have great images and great videos in order for their posts to spread far. As an individual, you are better off thinking about how you can use Facebook to educate existing friends. So if you have a friend base within Facebook, think about this. Some of those are people who don’t really know science. They don’t know what it’s like to do science and you can, and how you post about your work, talk about things that make science more accessible and interesting. So it is a way of educating existing friends. Okay, and so another quick comment on blogs and medium, is wrapped up in this. So, who’s going to blog about science and where is that going to get you? So, there are individual scientist who write about their work on blogs. There’s lab pages, or lab websites that have blogs. And these could be pretty effective, certainly with talking within the science community. And some of these get some wider pickup, specifically, if you then use social media to try to drive traffic to your blog. So, if you have a blog, you would need a good Twitter account to help drive traffic to it. Science organizations will often blog about the work they fund. News outlets will sometimes have a blog to cover other topics, like Nature Jobs is a blog, that’s a good example. But blogs also take a lot of time and they are very hard to get a following for. So, on the one hand, it’s a great way to convey a large chunk of information to people. On the other hand, you really need to think hard about how you’re going drive people to that blog. Because just putting it up and writing great stuff isn’t going to get you far. So here’s your round up, think about what you’re trying to achieve before you dive in. When you do dive in, it’s your chance to be real. Show the public what real scientists are thinking about and doing, and what their lives are like. And to pull that off, you need to know who you’re talking to, and why those people would follow you. And then the biggie is engage and don’t teach. If you’re doing nothing but tweeting educational little nuggets, you need to think about who’s actually going to follow you. If someone wants to be taught about your field, they are probably right now majoring in your field and already getting the education. Whereas, you could use social media to engage people and get them thinking about something that is not what they already doing. And that is a great use for social media.
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