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Beyond Cats: Communicating Scientific Endeavors Using Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr. These aren’t just networks for people to share funny pictures of cats.

Brian Kahn

on 19 February 2014

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Transcript of Beyond Cats: Communicating Scientific Endeavors Using Social Media

Reach new audiences

Communicating Scientific
Endeavors Using Social Media

IRI Chief ENSO Forecaster
Reddit Pioneer
An engine for awesome communities
An amplifier
An internet firehose
A place to make history
The Numbers
Facebook: 1 billion active users
Twitter: 235 active users
Instagram: 100 million registered users
Tumblr: 91 million blogs
Reddit: 2 million user log-ins per day
"I liked having time to think of my answer. Look at my office, that’s what my mind looks like."
“Overall, I enjoyed doing it and would like to do another. I would encourage other scientists to give it a try."
People trust scientists to provide accurate information about important issues
The costs of online tools
Facebook: FREE!
Twitter: FREE!
Instagram: FREE!
Tumblr: FREE!
Reddit: FREE!
What is Facebook?
What is Twitter?
The Promise
and the Peril

"Savvy scientists must increasingly engage with blogs and social media... Even if you choose not to blog you can expect your papers and ideas will increasingly be blogged about. So there it is -- blog or be blogged."

- Paul Knoepfler/UC Davis, in NatureNews
What the public thinks scientists look like...
What scientists actually look like
Nine in 10 internet users in the United States turn to search engines to find information, and 60% of the U.S. public seeking information about specific scientific issues lists the Internet as their primary source of information.
D. Brossard, D. Scheufele, Science 339, 40-41 (2013)
A world in which one in seven people actively use Facebook, and more than 340 million tweets are being posted everyday is not the future of science communication any more. It is today's reality.
What is Reddit?
The Vernacular


A 140-character message to the world about something you think is cool.
A way to help people find said cool thing.
A way of flagging said cool thing for someone specific or letting the person who created it know you think its cool.
Why use social media?
Tools & approaches
The promise & the peril
The Talk
Your time = Not free
Rebecca Fowler
Brian Kahn
The Vernacular


A topic-specific message board. Can range from science to music to...
Ask Me Anything, a popular Reddit topic
I Am A; a popular subreddit and home to...
You want broader impacts?
No comments, questions or retweets?
Connect with:
Existing blogs, etc.
You want broader impacts?
The Vernacular


A simple and easy way to say "this is cool."
A simple and easy way to say why you think something is cool.
A way to share cool content produced by others with your friends and subscribers
Full transcript