Here are the best practices on how to get your Science Says supporters from social media.
Let’s start with Twitter.
How often should you post on Twitter?
Twitter is a fast-paced platform. You need to post relatively often to build a following. We recommend Tweeting at least five times a day.
What to write about on Twitter?
The possibilities are endless. Even though you’re limited to 280 characters a Tweet, that’s more than enough to make an impression. If you have more to say about a particular topic, you can easily add another Tweet and create a thread (a series of connected Tweets).
Here are some ideas for your Tweets:
- Tweet about exciting research you’re reading now.
2. Retweet other users’ content (retweet means sharing a message written by another user). That’s an excellent way to demonstrate the scientific topics you’re passionate about. Plus, whoever is interested in the same issues, will easily find you and follow your insights.
3. Comment on other people’s Tweets. Remember to be genuine and write something meaningful, not just “nice”.
4. Ask other scientists about their work to build meaningful relationships.
5. Use hashtags like #AcademicTwitter, #AcademicChatter and #PhDchat to connect with academics who might be interested in supporting your content to learn more about your niche.
6. Share what you’re reading about now or what you’re currently studying!
7. Use simple polls to spark conversations and activity. It doesn’t have to be related to science. It could be even something fun and lighthearted (e.g. Who’s the best Friends character?).
8. Post questions to build community.
9. Share interesting articles and add your insights.
10. Share memes! We all love to laugh a bit.
11. Feel free to Tweet about things not related to science as well. Show people who you are so they get to know you better. It’s easier to support someone you can relate to.
How to promote my Science Says page on Twitter?
So you’re probably thinking, you need to promote your Science Says page frequently. However, that’s not the case. You don’t want to be passive. You want your audience to become your supporters. We all hate feeling forced into ads, so try to avoid that.
However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention your Science Says page at all. Try to do it discreetly. First, focus on building your community, and then occasionally mention your space.
Instead of Tweeting: “support my Science Says page for $5 a month”, try teasing your audience with your exclusive content. Something like “Did you know that…? If you’re interested to learn more, check out my Science Says page”.
Use phrases like “join me”, “if you loved this, check out more at…” and “exclusively at”. Promote your forum and live streams. Make it clear that it’s available only to your Science Says supporters. Don’t forget to mention what they will learn and why it is worth joining your space.
Top tip: Be yourself. Even if you use Twitter for professional purposes, show your unique personality and make people fall in love with you, your sense of humour, knowledge, and passion.
Bonus tip: Don’t overuse hashtags. One or two relevant hashtags is enough.
Hashtags ideas: #PhDchat, #AcademicTwitter, #AcademicChatter, #PhD, #SciComm, #PhDlife, #ScienceTwitter, #ECRchat, #ScienceCommunication, #ScienceArt, #SciArt.
What about Instagram?
According to the latest news, Instagram decided to move away from being a photo-sharing app. It’s currently on its way to becoming a video and entertainment platform. Instagram offers a bunch of different features to help you create engaging content. Apart from posting pictures and videos directly on your feed, you can also make:
- Instagram Stories. They are live on your profile for 24 hours. It’s an excellent way for you to share a more informal and less permanent slice of your life. Stories may be a great way for you to talk about your research without the pressure of creating something unique and aesthetically appealing. It’s a great way to let your followers see who you are and what you care about behind the scenes (it makes you more human and relatable).
- Reels is a new tool to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram. It’s super easy and fun to make. All you need is your phone and a little bit of creativity. All Reels are limited to 30 seconds, so whatever you want to share in the video must be easy to understand and quick to follow. You could do a series of videos. For example, every Monday and Wednesday, you debunk one food myth and encourage your audience to follow you on Science Says to find out more.
- IGTV is a long-form, immersive video.
Just like with any other social media platform, it’s worth having a plan. Think about what kind of content you want to post. Do you want to have a theme? A regular schedule? Check out these Instagram themes to get inspired.
Content ideas for your Instagram page
There are lots of fun stuff you can do to build a community on Instagram. Here are some of our ideas to help you get started.
- Easy and creative science experiments (e.g. what works best for keeping an apple from turning brown?) Or demonstrate chemical reactions that most people don’t have access to
2. Show a day in the life of a scientist. Take your audience on a journey to discover science in the lab or the field, and transport them into a world of science they might never otherwise experience.
3. To promote public understanding of science, we encourage you to not only post information about the results of your scientific work but visuals of science-in-the-making. Your supporters expect to be brought along on the journey of scientific discovery.
4. Try to post pictures of what science looks like for you daily. You can post visuals of methodologies, the equipment you use in the lab, diagrams of research ideas you have, or even talk about the struggle of failed experiments.
5. If you are still at the university, you can post visuals from your science lab courses and reflect on your learning.
6. You can post visuals of what it looks like to be you, as a scientist – selfies from the field, selfies conducting data analysis, selfies from scientific conferences, selfies during late-night study sessions, etc.
7. If you have access to a microscope, you could use it to share photos of your science on a micro-level. How about a series “Food under the microscope”? Sounds fun!
8. Create illustrations, diagrams or figures to make science more digestible for the general public.
How often should you post on Instagram?
Once a day or every other day is enough. However, it’s worth staying active on your stories every day.
Top tip: Instagram is all about engagement. Have a clear idea of who your target audiences are in the first place. Follow the people you’re trying to reach. Comment on their posts, interact with them.
Let’s talk about TikTok
TikTok is very similar to Instagram Reels but offers way more features and effects. It’s also easier to reach people on TikTok as they have different algorithms and recommendation systems.
The great thing about TikTok is that people don’t need to follow you to see your content. Your videos display on their unique For you page (feed) based on how likely they are to interest the user.
The most important thing with short videos like this is that you need to catch the audience’s attention in the first 3 seconds. Otherwise, they will quickly scroll on.
How to go viral on TikTok?
So just like with any social media platform, there’s no magic formula that will make you go viral. But there are things you can do to help that process.
- Create content worth sharing.
- Make people feel invested in your stories.
- Be a great storyteller.
- Use simple English instead of jargon.
- Think about how the research you’re talking about relates to your audience. Instead of saying, “This article says that…”, say “Here’s what can happen if you don’t…”.
- Make the person watching your video care.
- Make your videos enjoyable! Use the variety of features and effects that TikTok offers to make your videos more eye-catching and easy to follow. People tend to click off of basic videos. Use infographics, pictures and different angles to make your videos more compelling.
What do we love about TikTok?
The best thing about TikTok is that you can be yourself, and you’ll find that niche that loves your content, personality and knowledge. You don’t need to focus on making “perfect” videos to get views (like on Instagram). It counts what you have to offer and how good of a storyteller you are.
TikTok offers various features, effects (like a green screen so you can put infographics in the background) and music. You can also use up to 15 seconds of someone’s video and add it to yours, e.g., debunk misinformation they shared. This feature is called “stitch.”
Another great feature is that you can respond to someone’s comment using a video. It will link to the original video you posted so that everyone can watch it and understand the context. It’s similar to Twitter threads but in a video form.
1.Debunk food myths.
2. Show how to reduce food waste.
3. Explain how to understand and use the nutrition facts label.
4. Respond to someone’s misleading video and provide facts!
5. Share what science says about food trends like low fat, low calorie, detox tea etc.
6. Let’s do some experiments!
7. Share the most ridiculous and most misleading food marketing labels.
Why can TikTok be problematic?
The bad thing about TikTok and any social media for that matter is that misinformation tends to go viral. But that’s what we’re here for! To spread evidence-based information instead and educate people using facts, not fear. No fake news.
Here are some examples of science communication on TikTok.
And what about YouTube?
YouTube is great if you’re enjoying long-form videos. We recommend watching a fantastic series of videos, “Talking Science”, where you can learn more about creating a YouTube channel for science communication.
Creating a YouTube channel is not rocket science. Like with any other social media, you need to make sure your content is educational and entertaining. The most important thing to remember is that your thumbnail and title should be irresistible, clickable and catchy (but not misleading!).
How to get started?
Before you sit down to record your video, make a plan and ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you want to make it?
- Share interesting topics.
- Discuss something that can affect people’s lives.
- Educate the general public in a fun and creative way.
- Who do you want to watch it? It’s a crucial step as it shapes everything, and it helps you make critical content-planning decisions.
- How do you make them find (think about a clear, searchable title), click (encouraging thumbnail) and stick (educational but entertaining and engaging content)?
Check out these YouTube channels:
How to make people watch your videos?
One study suggests that our current attention span is 8 seconds. You need to make sure that you capture your viewers’ attention in that time. How? Don’t waffle on with a backstory. Get to the point quickly! Make people think “tell me more” in your intro (and every frame after).
Don’t be afraid to show your emotions, whether excitement, joy, frustration or anger. Make sure your videos are dynamic! Let your audience feel what you’re feeling!
Top tip: YouTube is the second largest search engine. When titling your videos, think about what people would type in the search. What is the most sustainable diet? Are avocados healthy? What to eat to be healthy?
Bonus tip: YouTube recommends videos to its viewers based on the content they’ve watched before. Tie your title into the subjects and types of content your audience already watch.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to have expensive equipment. All you need is your phone or a laptop. Make sure to record your video horizontally (and vertically for Instagram and TikTok). To edit a video, you can use Canva, Adobe Pro, Final Cut Pro. If you know of any other editing software, let us know. We’ll share it with the community!