In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, social media has become an important tool for marketing. This is true for companies as well as individual researchers. Today, I’m going to share how I’m using social media to help support our current research.
In order to support the research we are conducting with families, we wanted to offer more resources for them to use at home, outside the program. Our team discussed monthly newsletters, group chats, and even private Facebook groups. However, these are all time consuming and may not have a reach outside our group. In the end, we decided to create a Twitter account dedicated to the families in our program: STEMFamilies.
The aim of our research is to help support student interest in science through family STEM programs in museums. We felt it was important to give families tools to help support their child’s interest between programs. So we developed a twitter account that would offer tips and tools to families to engage their children in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Meet a Scientist Monday
Each Monday, we will share information about a scientist. This may include current scientists or historical scientists. We plan to feature young, diverse scientists to help youth identify with them. A major issue with student science identity is that they are exposed to too many stereotypes about scientists. This makes it difficult for kids to see themselves as scientists in the future as their idea of who is a scientist typically involves an older white man with crazy hair, lab goggles, and a lab coat. Check out this Storify of student stereotypes of scientists from a recent #scistuchat. By connecting our families to actual, diverse scientists, we can help our youth participants see themselves as a scientist in the future.
On Tuesdays, our account shares fun facts about science, technology, engineering, and math. By sharing fun facts about science, we hope to spark an interest in a variety of topics. This may encourage the students to explore the topics more on their own. One recent post shared “Tigers can easily jump over 5 meters in length. How far can you jump?” Who doesn’t love tigers?
Wednesday is saved for kid-friendly science articles. A recent post shared that even scientists fail sometimes. By sharing easily readable articles about science and scientists, we hope to make it more approachable for families. There is a lot of information out there but not all of it is easy to understand. This could potentially convince young readers that they “don’t get science” which will discourage them from pursuing it in the future.
Thursdays are for the parents. On those days we share resources for encouraging their kids’ interest in science. It gives information on how to talk to your children about careers in STEM. We are currently preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist. That is a tough job for parents and teachers alike! We hope to make things a little easier by giving some tips and tools.
Family Fun Friday
The best part of the week is the weekend. To help make it more interesting, we share family activities related to STEM on Fridays. By linking parents to fun activities with instructions and explanations, we hope to encourage families to spend time doing science together. There are lots of great resources out there but most people don’t have time to search them out. We try to make it easier by putting the resources in one place.
Social Media Solution
Social media is hard to do and hard to do well. It takes time. It takes commitment. You must also know who you are targeting. To make the process easier, I have asked my research assistants to help me curate lists for each of our topics. Then I use HootSuite to help schedule our posts. This way we can take out the human error in making sure content gets posted. Here is an interesting article on how to get started in social media marketing.
Do you currently use social media to share your research? What tips have I missed? Share them in the comments below.
Until next time,