The goal of our blog, Think of the PLoSibilities, is to help extend the reach of PLoS
articles by writing engaging, scientifically-accessible summaries for the general public. We
recognize that clear science writing is key to engaging the general public and promoting science
literacy. We also recognize that in order to engage a large population we need to extend our
reach by using a collection of different social media platforms. This year we established a media
presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Twitter, in comparison to Facebook and
Instagram, was the most efficient platform at alerting our followers to a new PLoSibilities blog
post. As the blog became more established and gathered a greater following, our weekly tweets
received more likes as well as more retweets. We found that Facebook and Instagram were better
platforms to inform our audiences about us as a team, and our progression over the summer.
In addition to using social media to promote our blog, we wanted to create a two-directional communication channel between the public and ourselves. For this reason, we
interspersed posts about ourselves with posts about relevant news articles, current debates in
science, artful depictions of science topics, and posts by other iGEM teams. Furthermore, we
followed many prominent science communicators to gain inspiration and to receive insight into
engaging a large population.
This webpage includes an analysis of our social media followers, as well as a description of how we productively used social media.
Since the start of the summer we managed to double our number of followers.
Our reach fluctuated depending on the content of our posts. The posts that had the greatest reach typically involved student profiles or project updates. Our fundraising posts reached the least amount of people. The majority of our followers were women (60%) between the ages 16-24 (44%) from Canada.
We were not able to do the same statistics on our Instagram account as we were able to do with Facebook and Twitter, however, we were able to collect some data. As of right now, the account has 149 followers and a post on average gets 20+ likes.
Since the start of this iGEM season, our twitter impressions have greatly increased from around two thousand in May to over 11 thousand in September. Similar to Facebook, the posts that involved our team members, our research, and/or our human practises engaged the public the most. Our current following is 322 with the most prevalent age being between 18-24. Interesting, in contrast to our Facebook group, the majority of our followers are male.
Our analysis emphasizes that while we have increased our social media presence, there are certainly still areas in need of improvement.
One way we used our different social media platforms effectively was to highlight team members in our “spotlight Sundays” tweets and posts. We reached our widest and most diverse audiences in these updates. This year our team included students from faculties such as computer science, neuroscience, biochemistry, and microbiology. In the future, however, we hope to engage even more students from departments such as engineering and design. We believe that these spotlight Sunday tweets and posts may help us recruit a more diverse team for Dal iGEM 2018.
In addition, we used our social media to establish and grow a following for our blog, Think of the PLoSibilities. Many of the followers we gained in September and October were science communicators from around the world. The more of our tweets that they promoted, the more followers and likes we received. We hope that in the future we can begin conversations over Twitter to identify scientific topics that the general public want to learn more about. By doing so, we believe that we will continue to expand our audience.
An area that we would like to improve is engaging with people over the age of 35 as this is a group that is underrepresented on all of our social media platforms. Many of our viewers are our friends and family thus it makes sense that our audience is fairly young. Attempting to engage members of the public outside of our immediate circles will in no doubt enrich the discussions and debates we hope to foster on our platforms.