Archive for the ‘twitter’ tag
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the importance of using visuals in your social media. Because human minds process visuals faster than text, they can be a much more succinct way of communicating your point. While words themselves probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (you are reading this, after all), incorporating more visual elements into your social efforts can catch more attention than just words alone– particularly on a fast-paced platform like Twitter.
Twitter’s updated features support visual media
The good news is that Twitter has made some updates in the past few months that support visual content on their platform, perhaps because of the growing popularity of photo and video platforms like Instagram, Vine and Snapchat.
Although many people took Twitter disabling Instagram display cards as a blow to cross-platform sharing, there’s a workaround for it that doesn’t require you to directly upload Instagram images to Twitter (although that might not be a bad idea; tailoring content for individual platforms is a best practice).
— Michael Calore (@snackfight) September 25, 2013
Last fall, Twitter improved embedded images in tweets to make them bigger, bolder, and much more noticeable.
Good morning! Perspective – Sunday is a fine day to go for a walk with a friend. pic.twitter.com/P3uDfjYsEU
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) August 11, 2013
And while less public, another update made it possible to send images privately in DMs and let the world know that Twitter understands the importance and impact of visual messaging as their users have been asking for it.
Finally and most recently, Twitter launched an update that lets you embed tweets within tweets. These appear more like an image than just a wall of text and can be a good callback to a point you were making previously, or to call back to a blog post you shared if it’s relevant in a conversation you’re currently having
What does this mean for brands using Twitter?
You can no longer rely on 140 characters of words alone to get your message across; snappy visuals are more important than ever. Not sure how to approach it? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Figure out what kind of information you’re trying to convey. Can you get the entire message across in a picture, or should you choose an image that will catch attention and direct it back to a longer post elsewhere?
- Infographics are popular, but they’re not right for everything. Especially if you have a very large or long infographic with tiny detail, don’t try to post the entire thing on Twitter. Post a section of it instead; this will pique interest and redirect traffic back to your blog or website.
- Test the same posts with different images. Try pairing an eye-catching image with one tweet, and an eye-catching image with text overlaying it on another. See how both do, and keep testing. Soon you’ll know which type your audience prefers. (But remember, this could change over time.)
- Test the same image across platforms. One style might do better on Twitter than on Instagram or Tumblr. See what your audience likes and tweak things for each platform.
- Be sure you’re using images you have permission to use. Use photos with a creative commons license if you don’t have your own photo resources.
The final word.
Before you post something or propose it as an idea to your team: Is it interesting and eye-catching to you? If it’s not, then you might want to rethink your approach.
We’ve previously discussed how airlines should handle crisis communication in case of an emergency, and recently we shared the first part of the plan for cruise lines to do the same. This is the second part, which picks up after looking at what cruise lines should look for on Twitter, to what they should measure during and after a crisis, plus what to look for on platforms outside of Twitter.
What to measure on Twitter in times of crisis, and after
Now that you know what to look for, you need to have a plan in place for how to measure it. What, exactly, should you be measuring on Twitter as a crisis unfolds?
Before; or what you should have set up right now
Ideally you will already have Trackers set up to capture what we mentioned previously- tweets directly to your official handle, mentions of your brand in any variety of spelling imaginable, any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the ports you operate from. If you’re not already doing that, now is the time to implement Trackers or take frequent snapshots (using something like our aptly named snapshot reports) around those terms once a situation arises and begins to unfold.
If your resources have grown since you first made your plan, consider monitoring your major competitors and major keywords related to your industry as well.
During a crisis
Often during a crisis situation, a hashtag will be born organically. If you’re being proactive about communicating via Twitter, however, don’t hesitate to create one of your own and immediately set up a Tracker to measure it, or take continual snapshots of the situation. If another hashtag emerges organically, use that one in your messaging as well and be sure you’re tracking both.
After a crisis
If everything flies by too quickly and you’re a small enough team not to have time to set up Trackers or take frequent enough snapshots of the situation, a historical option to capture the entire incident is available. This can also be used to fill in any noticeable gaps in your data once you’ve begun to look through everything you’ve gathered.
In the aftermath of the event, you might also want to track a specific news story (using specific key words from the title if it’s unique enough not to return a lot of noise, or you can track via a specific URL) that went around if it directly involved comments from your brand, or got a lot of circulation with commentary from people passing it around. This will give you a much more accurate read on the sentiment around your crisis messaging, and let you see any missed opportunities, as well as highlight every win.
Go the extra mile
Once you have all of this data and you can clearly see how the situation unfolded and evaluate the strength of your response, take it a step further: What can you plan better next time, with this experience? What did you and your team do really well, that you should be sure to praise and also pass on as protocol to new team members? This knowledge can be distilled and turned into training and on-boarding materials for any new communications employees in the future.
If you’re not a cruise line (or an airline) a lot of these tactics still apply to you; if you’re a hotel, for example, you can offer to put up stranded travelers or victims of a natural disaster or other tragedy. Car rental companies and car sharing services can work out deals to get stranded people home if they don’t have far to go. For a less serious crisis, tour companies can even offer to keep stranded passengers entertained with local sites while they’re waiting for delayed travel to get sorted out.
Any of these companies can work out deals with each other ahead of a crisis to come in and support each other if and when it makes sense to.
Platforms other than Twitter
While Twitter is the best platform to use during a crisis because of the speed at which you’re able to share information and connect with concerned parties as well as news outlets, you need to be sure you have messaging in place on all of the other platforms you also have a presence on in the case of an emergency. For Facebook, be sure to make periodic, informative updates and answer as many questions as you can from concerned parties that may not be on Twitter. Do as much as you can with the resources that you have; don’t be afraid to make a post and then direct everyone to Twitter or your website for more information if those are the two places you plan to concentrate updates.
Tumblr will support text updates and it’s also a place where you can reblog information from the news outlets also on Tumblr, but it’s much more difficult to answer questions if they come in the form of reblogs. Do answer any questions directed to your inbox, publishing those that may help answer the similar questions of others.
Photo-based platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are more difficult to navigate; it’s hard to think of a tactful snap for announcing information around an emergency situation, but if that’s the only line of communication open to you and you’re in touch with your customers there, don’t hesitate to do what you can. If you do feel it’s appropriate to post a screenshot with emergency update protocols on your Instagram account directing followers to your website or Twitter for ongoing information, do so. Many of these details will depend on what’s right for your brand, the nature of the crisis, and the resources available as it unfolds.
The bottom line is to listen and step in where you’re needed, even if you’re not expected to.
Comedy Central now takes requests for its online, sketch series CC: Social Scene, hosted by comedian Paul Scheer. Twitter users can use the hashtag #CCSocialScene to make suggestions based on each week’s topic for a chance to have it included in the next sketch.
This use of a hashtag on Twitter is a natural social extension of the interactive nature of improv and sketch shows at most comedy clubs, taking suggestions from the audience for upcoming scenes. While the episodes haven’t been shared across platforms yet, doing so would maximize exposure to reach each part of their audience where they prefer to spend their time, still drawing them back to Twitter if they wish to participate.
Executing that would make this an excellent example of a cross-platform campaign.
Want tips for running one of those yourself? Check out 3 dos and don’ts for making it work.
As new social platforms become ubiquitous in the business world, it can be easy to let strategy for their content and use become stale while focusing on building your presence on the latest thing. If you’ve let Twitter sit on the back burner for a while, now is the time to bring it forward and be sure it’s still working for you– not to mention playing well with your presence everywhere else.
1. Why are you on Twitter?
Has the reason changed since your brand first signed up for the platform? If you started out just looking for a place to periodically share your content or coupon codes, things have probably evolved. Consider the following:
- Have a solid strategy in place for answering customer service questions; know who is responsible for this, what resources they can point customers to, and perhaps even a script with consistent company messaging they can work from (but not stick to verbatim every time, as people like talking to people and not robots).
- Invoke the 80/20 rule if you haven’t already. 80% of the content coming from your account should not be your own, promotional content. Share things that will be useful to your customers and help you build relationships with them. Share your own content and promotions 20% of the time.
- If you’re just looking to engage with customers and followers, be sure you’re replying to every (non-spam) @ appropriately. People quickly lose patience with non-responsive accounts. If you have limited resources establish a time of day to jump on and catch up with asks. It’s better than nothing at all.
While these are obviously not all of the reasons a brand might be on Twitter, it’s a good starting place to rethink why you’re there.
Another important point: If you’ve never done the research to see where your target customers are spending most of their time, now is the time to do it. If it has been a while since you’ve done it, now is the time to take a look again. Has it shifted to or from Twitter? This might drastically change your reasons for being there, and what you’re going to do next.
Speaking of which. . .
2. Where do you want to go from here with Twitter?
Perhaps you’ve been on Twitter for a few years, tending to customer questions, chatting with your followers, keeping a casual eye on the competition, and sharing a useful mix of your own content and that of others. Now you have the time, resources, and experience with the platform to take things a little further: You want to use it to gauge your share of voice in your industry.
First, use Twitter to measure your share of voice in your industry by comparing your metrics to the overall conversation about your area. Once you know where you stand, you can work to increase your share of voice by tweeting more, being sure you’re talking to everyone that it makes sense for you to be talking to, and working to bring the conversation from other platforms back to Twitter.
Which brings to our final question.
3. Is Twitter playing well with my presence on every other platform?
Do you have your Twitter account linked to your Instagram account? Do your Twitter updates automatically feed to Facebook (we recommend turning that feature off; it will simply annoy customers who follow you in both places)? Check your sharing settings in each place and decide what makes the most sense for your brand moving forward. Content should absolutely be tweaked to perform its best in each place.
This is especially important if you’re launching a cross-platform campaign soon, or hosting an event and want to utilize every platform that your followers and customers are on: Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, as well as Snapchat and Pinterest.
Any other questions?
Leave ‘em in the comments, or find us on Twitter.
It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.
“Part of [brands'] hesitation [to use Tumblr] could be linked to the level of commitment that a Tumblr campaign requires. To use it, and use it well, brands must provide new, interesting, and engaging content on an ongoing basis.”
“If you do the online ethnography for your important segments, you’d do well to know if they are represented on Tumblr. If your company sells micro-oscillator widgets that go into industrial machinery, no, this might not be the place for you. If you are consumer-oriented in any way, though, you should take a look.”
“That’s true in part because Instagram has helped spawn a powerful new social phenomenon: Just as Kodak’s invention of a roll of film made it easy for almost anyone to take photographs a century ago, Instagram’s invention of a social feed paired with easy-to-use editing tools makes everyone capable of creating and sharing nuanced, edited pictures today. And that photo sharing has empowered people in powerful, unexpected ways—even those not named Kardashian or Bieber.”
The Kinds of Photos Instagram Followers Want to “Like” [from Social Media Today; written by Alexandra Jacopetti]
“Instagram is arguably the social media platform with the most opportunity for brands, but don’t post what the CEO had for lunch.”
That doesn’t mean that food is off limits; just tap into the big communities wisely. Like Dunkin Donuts and Oreo did to announce their partnership:
“Beyond the differences in length and available tools, Vine and Instagram video remain able to operate in the same space, whilst remaining unique in their own way, with brands tending to choose one or the other platform based on its own audience, content and tone of voice.”
As always, choose the platform where you audience spends their time and that fits your brand voice the best.
10 Reasons to Use Vine to Help You Build Your Brand [from Mashable; written by Bob Cargill]
“Vine presents brands with an innovative, surprisingly powerful way to take advantage of the fact that visual content performs well on social media.”
“The big picture conclusion here is that while the Gallup and SHIFT polls showed that social media has influence in the minds of the consumer, the data you should be paying attention to most is your own. Pay attention to the statistical and methodological validity of data you see in the news, absolutely, but pay even closer attention to the things that influence your business first and foremost.”
A simple tip for improving your brand tone of voice guidelines [from Econsultancy; written by David Moth]
Consumers expect a consistent tone of voice from brands. Here’s how to lay out consistent ground rules for achieving that.
6 in 10 B2B Execs Agree That Social Business Has Created Value [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]
“The authors note that B2B companies are leveraging social business in a number of ways, including social data analysis to aid in product development.”
A little informative Friday fun.
Turning ‘Likes’ Into a Career: Social Media Stars Use Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr to Build Their Career [from the New York Times; written by Sheila Marikar]
“In an era of new economies, this may be one of the most curious: the network that has sprung up to help the follower-laden stars of Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and other social media services make money by connecting them with brands wanting to advertise to their audiences. People like Mr. Lachtman and his co-founder, Rob Fishman, run what may be seen as a parallel universe to Hollywood, one in which shares and likes matter more than box-office sales and paparazzi shots. Here, authenticity — a word that comes up often in this arena — trumps a Photoshop-perfect facade or publicist-approved message.”
We recently discussed 3 dos and don’ts for running a campaign across platforms, but what about marketing a conference or similar event across platforms? Successfully marketing an event requires tailoring your message for each platform, just as with any successful campaign. We’ll break down some of the specific uses for each platform here, playing to their individual strengths and making note of what to keep in mind based on how each works and interacts with the others.
We’ve covered 16 ways to use Twitter to improve your next conference and 7 tips to maximize your conference attendance using Twitter, so what’s different when you’re adding other platforms to the mix?
When building your communication plan for your conference you want to keep in mind the strengths of each platform to plan which content you’re going to disseminate where; Twitter’s strength lies in it being the ultimate real-time tool. Use Twitter to broadcast quick updates and reminders throughout your event, such as:
- Remind everyone of the official hashtag
- Make announcements and reminders of keynotes, session start times, and any other events like a cocktail hour or party
- Let everyone know if a session, talk, or cocktail hour has been delayed, canceled or moved to a different location
- Make suggestions about where attendees can head for meals or drinks offsite, tagging the handles of those businesses where applicable
- Introduce speakers by their handles
- Thank speakers, organizers, and any companies that have provided staff for catering or bars (and be sure to mention their handles too)
- Answer any questions from attendees, and resolve any problems they bring to light quickly
Also be sure to prominently and consistently use and track the official hashtag you’ve created for your conference, which will tell you everything that went well and everything you can improve for the next time.
Instagram is new territory for many marketers, which is why we’ve written a series for those new to the platform over on our Union Metrics Tumblr. Specifically for events you’ll want to check out how to effectively use hashtags, the nuances of sharing to other platforms via Instagram, and even the different moves personal brands should make there (in case you’re an event attendee in the future, wanting to promote yourself and connect with other attendees and organizers).
So whether you’re established on Instagram when you decide to market your event there, or you’ve decided to make the conference the official launch of your Instagram presence, there are a few things to keep in mind. Instagram’s purely visual nature is a strength for any brand looking to tell a succinct story in photographic terms. However, the single-track feed on mobile means that too many posts can easily overwhelm your followers, so established brands with a large following who know only a portion of that following will be present at an event will want to consider setting up a side account if you plan on frequent event updates.
With that in mind, some of the ways to use Instagram at a conference include:
- To show off the conference venue, including what the weather in the host city is like
- Share photos of sites to see around the host city
- Tap into other big communities on Instagram by showing off the #food available on and offsite of your conference (be sure to tag any offsite restaurants and bars that have an Instagram presence, and follow their accounts)
- Post reminders about meetups in other cities leading up to the conference, or after it, like this one from SXSW V2V
- Share engaging photo reminders of deadlines for submitting speaker applications, getting a discount on event passes, and more
- Post photos of keynote speakers, tagging their Instagram accounts with permission so that attendees can get a better idea of who they are
- Post photos to highlight your event organizers, staff, and even regular attendees to give a behind-the-scenes look at everything that goes into the work of organizing and executing a conference (and tag their accounts too, where appropriate, or at least follow them)
Bonus: If you’re short on resources, use the snappy photo reminders around deadlines as a starting point to share the same reminder across platforms, tweaking the message for each. For example, hashtags don’t seem to increase engagement on Facebook, so if you’re going to use the sharing buttons native to Instagram, wait to post all of your hashtags in the first comment. They’ll work the same way for categorization and discovery across Instagram as when you put them in your initial photo caption, but they won’t clutter your post across platforms.
More and more brands have been experimenting with marketing on Tumblr and seeing some fantastic results. The built-in social aspect allows for amplification of announcements and photo recaps of any event or conference in a way that’s not possible with traditional blogging platforms. A brand hosting an event on Tumblr might use the platform to:
- Go into more detail about deadlines and what’s required on applications for speakers, but be sure to put it all behind a cut and underneath a snappy visual (maybe a version of the same one you used on Instagram!)
- Use the photo post-type collage option to show off the mood of the event, the venue, official accommodations, shots of the host city, past event parties and attendees, speakers and more (Tumblr automatically builds a collage as you upload multiple photos in one post)
- Do a series using each of the ideas above, or pull a few of each type into one post for a photo overview. Pull these from Instagram or post a mix of Instagram photos and those from other sources
- Use embedded video posts to show clips from the speakers you’re featuring, or a video summary of a past event; even a video tour of the host city
- Video post types will also host SlideShares of presentations using their embed codes, perfect for recaps and previews of sessions and topics from speakers
- Link to articles or blog posts from event speakers, or quote things past speakers have said using the quote post-type
- If past event attendees have written up their experiences, link to those as well, or quote excerpts from what they had to say
Remember that Tumblr’s reblogging feature is what makes it so powerful; be sure to reblog anything appropriate or related to your conference from the Tumblrs of your upcoming or past speakers, regular attendees, organizers and more. Doing so will only encourage them to reblog you, amplifying your message to their audiences and possibly tapping new audience members.
Example of a post from a speaker that SXSW V2V could reblog– if they had a Tumblr.
After all, if they follow your speakers and attendees, it’s likely that they’re interested in the type of event you’re putting on.
The bottom line
Play to each platform’s strengths, and put in the work ahead of time to figure out where your attendees spend the most time. If you have limited resources, put your work into those places. Anything else after that will be a bonus.
Oh, and one more bonus tip: All of these platforms use hashtags, so search each one for any hashtags you can think of that are related to your conference or event to see how people are already talking about it in each place. Keep that tone and style in mind as you plan your approach, or use it to tailor and rethink your approach if you already have a presence there.
Got any questions, or have any ideas or examples of great conference execution across platforms that we’ve missed? Leave it in the comments!
Since tomorrow is Independence Day here in America we thought we’d put out This Week in Social Analytics a day early. Here are our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Let us know in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.
Finally, Most Brands Measuring Social Content Effectiveness [from eMarketer; written by staff]
While the metrics being used are fairly simplistic, it’s a good start.
How Psychology Will Shape the Future of Social Media Marketing [from The Huffington Post; written by Jayson DeMers]
“Technology will never replace the human ability to extract meaningful data from volumes of information.”
“Digiday surveyed attendees of its Agency Innovation Camp about how visual native ads stack up against text based native ads (hat tip: Richard Binhammer). More often than not, attendees favored visuals by 75 percent or more.”
While that might be a very specific audience with very specific opinions about visuals, it’s hard to ignore the overwhelming evidence that humans are visual creatures.
The Conundrum of Ethics and Data Collecting [from Eli Rose Social Media; written by Sunny Serres]
“We need these companies to be more socially responsible because we are entrusting them with our information. In order for us to remove ourselves from these types of data collections, we have to opt out of all of the conveniences that we rely so heavily upon to function within society. . . This just isn’t plausible in today’s society – our reliance on technology has grown so rapidly that opting out of many of these things simply puts those individuals “behind.” It is a vicious cycle, but if companies can perform with more integrity and think about their customers first and foremost rather than profitability or academic accolades, then maybe the question of ethics will become moot.”
3 Steps to Demystifying Social Media Personalities [from Social Media Today; written by Ida Cheinman]
1. Treat Every Tool as a Touchpoint
2. Metaphor the Medium
3. Secure Success Through Story
So How Many Millennials Are There in the US, Anyway? | Updated [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]
“Before putting out some numbers, there are a few problems to take note of. Chiefly, there is no consensus definition of a Millennial.
Nevertheless, things being the way they are, marketers and researchers often look at age groups. So here’s a reference list of some commonly used age brackets and their corresponding population estimates and population shares as of July 1st, 2013.
- 12-17: 25 million (7.9%)
- 18-24: 31.5 million (10%)
- 25-34: 42.8 million (13.6%)
- 35-44: 40.5 million (12.8%)
- 45-54: 43.8 million (13.8%)
- 55-64: 39.3 million (12.4%)
- 65+: 44.7 million (14.1%)”
5 Principles for Creating a Social Media Following That Sticks [from Social Media Today; written by Will Blunt]
“TIP: Your customers care more about themselves than they do you. Ask them questions about what THEY want. Don’t fall into the trap of TELLING them what they want.”
6 Ways To Engage And Maintain A Loyal Twitter Following [from All Twitter; written by Shea Bennett]
Based on a video released by Twitter for Small Business.
GIFs are the language of the Internet, after all.
“Social content is about how the content is created, not shared or distributed!”
Every social media platform has its own way of operating that stems from its users reasons for being there; the same person might use Twitter mostly for professional work connections and news, Facebook for family updates, Instagram to connect with friends, and Tumblr to keep up with the fandoms around their favorite shows, for example. If that person matches the ideal customer for a brand and that brand wants to run a social campaign across most or all of those platforms to reach that person, they need to tailor their message for each place.
How? Get started with these do’s and don’ts.
1. Don’t: discount a platform because you think you know what people are there for.
Do: The research to see how conversations form around things that matter to your brand. Instagram, for example, is often thought of as a place where people simply share photos with friends and family, but that’s not necessarily the case. Big events like the World Cup have enormous conversations happening around them on the photo-sharing site, and smart brands like Adidas have caught onto that.
Our Instagram analysis* showed that Adidas was a top publisher around the World Cup conversation on Instagram, and they received 22.7k actions (likes and comments) on their 5 World Cup related posts, earning 6.3 million impressions. That’s a big return on a relatively small effort, especially considering fan-run sports accounts and even official soccer athlete accounts are making anywhere from 14-128 posts related to the World Cup.
2. Don’t: assume you know how to talk the talk.
Do: Listen first, then join the conversation respectfully. Tumblr, for example, has many different communities that all have different ways of speaking to each other, making jokes, and presenting information, all of which is part of the larger Tumblr community and culture. What works well in Twitter or Facebook advertising will not work well here; the users are part of a larger creative community and they respond well to brands who take the time to understand how Tumblr really operates (or they’re smart enough to hire and work with someone who does).
Denny’s, for example, has an extremely popular Tumblr that users have responded well to because it speaks in the language of Tumblr. It isn’t just an attempt to ape it.
3. Don’t: Be afraid to experiment.
Do: Learn from and build on your failures and successes alike. FIFA has a Twitter account for their official match ball. While normally inanimate objects spontaneously get their own parody Twitter accounts following a big cultural event with social coverage (Pharrell’s hat following the GRAMMY’s, for example), FIFA decided to give their match ball its own autonomy and hashtag early.
Running a quick free TweetReach report shows that the conversation and engagement around #ballin is already good, and there’s still more than a month of World Cup matches left to go. While something like a snapshot report gives a good idea of the general success of the account relative to the hashtag- it’s not just a bunch of people using the term in other, World Cup unrelated ways- more in-depth monitoring could tell FIFA what was successful and unsuccessful in their approach specific to Twitter, and help them plan better for next time. (You can read more about how to monitor a Twitter campaign with TweetReach here.)
So what does this mean for campaigns, exactly?
The bottom line is that you have to tailor your message to fit in each place, and that can only be done by taking the time to understand how the conversation around what your audience is interested in operates. Adidas looked at how sports fans use Instagram, Denny’s hired someone familiar with the culture of Tumblr and gave them the freedom to do it right, and FIFA is experimenting with giving their match ball its own voice.
After you’ve decided on the messaging for each platform- visual for Instagram and Tumblr, with different wording and approach on Twitter, for example- build goals based on how the audience you aim to reach in each place talks to one another about you or your industry. Are you there to increase your share of voice in the industry (here’s more on how to measure share of voice, and how to grow it), or to build engagement with your existing fans, while hopefully earning new ones? Your goals for the same campaign might be different for each platform, which increases the necessity for tailored messages in each place.
The basic approach is the same in each place, however: Research, plan, test, measure, rinse, and repeat.
*Interested in our Union Metrics for Instagram analytics? Learn more here.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted the first Vine from space this weekend, condensing hours on the ISS and an orbit showing a never-quite-setting sun into six seconds:
— Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) June 6, 2014
Social media has been the perfect tool for NASA to use to educate the public about their work, and give curious citizens direct access in real time to the astronauts living and working in space above us. The Vine was shared by many in the Twitter science community dedicated to science education and outreach:
— AsapSCIENCE (@AsapSCIENCE) June 9, 2014
After all, the projects started up there often come back down to earth to be used in our daily lives, and new windows into science education are the best way to spark the interest of the next generation of scientists and inventors.
Any headlines predicting the “end of Twitter” or fearing that “everyone is bored with [social platform] now” fail to recognize that humanity is pretty good at coming up with innovative uses for the tools at our disposal, and that Twitter and other social media platforms are no exception to this. Case in point: A fire recovery study project currently underway in Mt. Diablo State Park done by URS and Nerds for Nature after the Morgan Fire burned 3,000 acres last year in September.
How does this work?
By setting up a series of fixed vantage points around the park- there are brackets to put your smartphone in so all the photos are taken from the same angle- the project is able to gather reliable, gradual photographic evidence of the recovery of the park’s different ecosystems. Each site has its own hashtag to distinguish it: #morganfire01, #morganfire02, #morganfire03, #morganfire04.
Looking at the snapshot reports for each of these vantage points, you can see which ones are more commonly frequented by hikers. This gives citizen scientists as well as the projects heads themselves an idea of which areas could use more visits and photo captures, and enables them to quickly and easily spread the message and make plans about where to go. Park ranger resources can also be used more efficiently this way.
The overall conversation on Twitter.
Once a news cycle on an event like this gradually shuts down in the days or weeks after it happens, it’s rare to hear much more about it; projects like this are just one way social media is changing the landscape of journalism with crowdsourcing. It also gives citizens a direct role to play in the preservation of their local environment as citizen scientists. This would be a great project for a family, group of friends, summer camp, or science class to get involved with, and social media- particularly Twitter- is one of the best ways to amplify this message and make these kinds of suggestions.
While Twitter users seem to mainly be using the platform to share news about the project itself, Instagram users have been carrying out the instructions on the sign posts and posting photos from the different vantage points using the hashtags:
#morganfire02 via Instagram user mo_nini_l
#morganfire04 via Instagram user coyotethunder
This plays to the strengths of each platform; it’s harder to describe what a project is about on Instagram which doesn’t enable link-sharing, while this is Twitter’s main strength. The stunning visuals of the recovering areas of the park posted on Instagram can capture attention and make a user curious about what the hashtags mean, leading them to ask the user or search out the information themselves on other social sites, like Twitter.
If you live in the Mt. Diablo State Park area, consider making a weekend hiking trip out to Mt. Diablo and contribute to this citizen science project on your social networks! You might be the first to see something like this wild lily coming back:
via Instagram user coyotethunder