General helpful hints
- Have a plan. Don’t sign up for any site before you know what you want to say to what audience – and what you want them to get out of it.
- Keep it simple. If your next-door neighbor, your grandmother, or your friend from high school can’t understand what you’re talking about, rephrase your message.
- Keep it interesting. We live in an age of short attention spans and sound bites. Use catchy phrases and striking images to capture readers’ attention. This varies with social media outlet (i.e. it’s easier to keep people interested with 140 characters).
- Keep it relevant. Know your audience: Who visits your site, how regularly, for how long? How can your content reflect your visitors’ interests and behaviors? You can usually track metrics and gauge your audience.
- Keep it up. Social media sites and feeds must be updated frequently (from once a day to once a week). Why visit your site again if there’s nothing new? The level of commitment necessary will help you gauge what type is right for you.
- Keep it under control. Joining every site out there will be overwhelming and exhausting; start out with one or two and see if you want to expand.
- Keep making contacts. Social media is by definition interactive – find others, make connections, and add links. Become part of a larger network in order to reach others.
- Keep trying. It takes time to acquire followers to your sites and feeds; don’t give up if you’re not immediately noticed. Think of it as a more fun version of trying to get a manuscript accepted or grant funded.
- Keep your cool. Social media can be seen by everyone, and it’s all too easy for tone to shift from informal to unprofessional.
- Start a blog. Blogging is great way to get a scientific message out to a diverse audience in a relatively easy manner.
- Guest blog. Creating and maintaining a blog is not for everyone. Luckily, many science-related blogs already exist and are oftentimes looking for guest bloggers. Check out AGU Blogosphere – Blogs by AGU members and AGU staff on Earth and space science.
- Other good examples. Slate: Bad Astronomy, NYT: Dot Earth
- Open a Twitter account. Twitter is an increasingly popular medium whereby to send out short science-related messages to a broad audience.
- Become more active. Already have an account? Great! Neglecting it? Be more active! It only takes a few tweets to get back into the swing of things.
- Shorter than blogging. Can convey your message in a fraction of the time.
- Build/join a community. In addition to the goal of reaching out to broad audiences, many scientists are on Twitter. Can potentially provide opportunities to meet peers without physically seeing them.
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