All A’Twitter: How Social Media Aids in Science Outreach – Materials and Methods
I started off collecting data over the summer while working at CSC. There, I researched – using primarily the Internet – each social media site that I then proposed to the Multipurpose Marine Cadastre (MMC) Team. While at CSC, I gathered perspective on how government agencies handle social media accounts, the applications involved, the process involved in terms of post approval and the overall mindset towards social media. After leaving the office, I stayed connected with the office and worked with them to develop and maintain Twitter and Facebook social media sites. I analyzed changes in web traffic based on these social media sites and extrapolated those markers into successes and failures of each social media site.
In addition to the information gained from working with CSC, I designed and distributed a survey instrument to independent scientists – at Duke University, through contacts in the field and over Twitter and Facebook – as well as to non-‐ profits, government agencies, universities and private institutions – through personal contacts and over Twitter and Facebook. This survey delved into social media use on a personal level as well as for scientific purposes. It asked average use of social media for both, whether scientists responded to comments, tracked web statistics, found value from using social media and whether they followed any rules or guidelines in their social media endeavors. The survey also worked to examine the reasons and feelings behind scientists and institutions not using social media. The survey questions investigated feelings towards social media and what it would entail – if anything – to encourage scientists to begin using social media as well as what social media sites they would use. Lastly, as with all surveys, it left a question open to any feelings the respondents had on the subject of social media use for science outreach.
I then took the time, consulting with experts in the field, to analyze the survey results and compared and contrasted the results to what I discovered in the case study with CSC. Using all of this information, I developed a set of best practices for social media use for all scientists and science research institutions.