To tweet to whom – a tweeting guide for marine scientists

Logic is a tweeting bird” – Spock, Star Trek

Social media can be a great tool for spreading and disseminating published science. Potentially it can reach a wide audience and for free !

Most platforms allow you to insert links to direct readers to the original paper or publication. If you are working in an area that is relevant to conservation or policy, social media can be a great way of getting papers to the right audience that may need that information (Parsons et al., 2014). Moreover, there is now increasing data that using social media can increase download and citation rates of scientific papers, which in turn is good for the careers of scientists in an academic setting.

Several professional societies and scientific conferences over the years have tried to encourage scientists to produce tweets and social media posts to better communicate their science to a wider audience. This wider audience is generally assumed to be the general public. But many looking at science on social media are likely to be scientists and academics in other fields, journalists. However, whilst some scientists are used to public outreach and using social media, many scientists struggle to hit the right note when composing tweets and facebook posts that are appealing to a wider audience (e.g. see Parsons et al. 2014 for some examples).

Therefore, here are some suggestions for scientists wanting to spread their science on social media, particularly Twitter.

What is the key finding of your study?

This is what the audience is most interested in – they aren’t interested in the methods of the background necessarily, but there are likely interested in…

What are the implications of the study?

Are the findings important for conservation? Do the findings tell us something new? Do the findings tell us something that might impact your readers personally? Basically what was cool about the study and how was it useful ?

Simplify, but don’t dumb it down

Assume that your audience is intelligent and interested, but they might not necessarily understand technical terms, therefore…

Don’t use jargon !

The Society for Conservation Biology tried to encourage scientists are their main conference to provide a tweetable abstract of their study. While some were good… many were not, and most were unusable. Many used overly technical jargon which is something to avoid, as noted above.

Don’t just tweet the title of your paper/talk

They found that the majority of submitted abstract tweets were shortened, slightly rewritten or repeated versions of the talk title. That is just repetitive and/or redundant, and sometimes, quite frankly, boring.

Rarely do titles of papers really convey the real findings of a study, but rather they tend to convey what is done. As noted above, you want to convey the findings and implications of your study and not just the methods.

Other common mistakes were using superfluous hashtags or exceeding the character limit (Parsons et al. 2014).

Twitter uses hashtags as a way to search for topics of interest.

For example, adding a few hashtags on a few key descriptors such as#whale, #conservation, #pollution or #marinescience are useful hastags to add.

#But #A #Tweet #Full #OF #Hashtags is not. So…

Use relevant hastags, but use them sparingly

Twitter now allows 280 characters (as opposed to 140 previously), but included in those characters is the link to your paper of presentation, so 280 characters of description won’t allow the important link to your actual paper to be included.

Include a picture

This is very important. An image can be added to a tweet at the expense of just a few characters, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s been found again and again that an image will increase the number of clicks a tweet will get. So why not insert a cool picture of your study species. However, you could also attach a more scientific image. For example, a really important graph could be turned into a jpeg and attached.It’s very easy to basically make a mini poster in powerpoint, and then turn it into a jpeg image to attach to a tweet. However, if you do this, just bear in mind the  size and quality of images and text, and making sure these are readable if tweeted.

Humor attracts attention, but try not to be corny

Paraphrasing a famous quote, or making a pop culture reference can help get more attention to your tweet. But try to avoid clichés. There are lots of “size does matter” and “to be or not to be” cutesy titles to scientific papers and tweets, which were amusing once, but are no so common as to be cringeworthy.

Here are some examples (from Parsons et al., 2014) of scientific tweets that portray key findings in a simple and accessible way: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/action/downloadSupplement?doi=10.1111%2Fcobi.12226&file=cobi12226-sup-0001-SuppMat.docx

Amazing fish eyes, the real cost of halibut, and protecting local species: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, December 13, 2018

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!

Florida releases draft land-based shark fishing regulations

After months of expert and public consultation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced the draft text of new regulations that will govern land-based shark fishing. It’s mostly very good news that directly addresses most of our concerns! 

A review of the problem
Land-based anglers in Florida (those who fish from beaches, docks, and piers) catch large numbers of threatened, protected species, handling them in needlessly cruel ways that likely result in mortality or permanent injury. Anglers are aware that what they’re doing causes harm to certain species and violates some existing regulations. Hammerhead sharks in particular are extremely physiologically vulnerable and need to be released much faster than they are currently being released or else they will very likely die. 

(Learn more: see my paper on this subject, my blog post summarizing that paper, an open letter calling for action, an op-ed I wrote about thisa review of the existing rules and how they’re regularly violated, and a years-old blog post describing one problematic incident with land-based shark fishing)

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Snacking at vents, snorting eels, eating too much plastic, charming snails, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: December 10, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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Dive bombing birds, octopus intelligence, and a red tide update: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, December 6, 2018

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!

5000 dives under the sea, plastic nomming fungi, scanning Belize’s Blue Hole, the thawing Northwest Passage, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: December 3, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Ignacio R. "Nash" Camacho, a Traditions About Seafaring Islands member, and codesigner of the Chamoru Sakman outrigger replica canoe "Tasi," talks about his creation during a ceremony at the Guam Museum on June 29, 2017.

Ignacio R. “Nash” Camacho, a Traditions About Seafaring Islands member, and codesigner of the Chamoru Sakman outrigger replica canoe “Tasi,” talks about his creation during a ceremony at the Guam Museum on June 29, 2017.

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Chesapeake Requiem, the Black Friday for Climate Change, whale earwax, killing the GRE, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: November 26, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

  • Friend of the blog and submarine legend Erika Bergman is leading an expedition to Belize’s Blue Hole! Follow along as she maps this unique ocean feature: Belize Blue Hole 2018. Some dudes are tagging along, too.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.

The Gam (conversations from the ocean-podcasting world)

  • Speak Up for the Blue on art and the ocean.

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LarvaBots, turning the tide on captive dolphins, horror fish from the deep sea, ARA San Juan found, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: November 19, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

LarvalBot gently squirts the coral larvae onto damaged reef areas. Credit: QUT Media

LarvalBot gently squirts the coral larvae onto damaged reef areas. Credit: QUT Media

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Fun Science FRIEDay – Gut Enzyme Turns Blood Into Type O

The process of blood transfusions, started in the late 19th century and perfected in the early 20th century, were a big advancement in modern medicine and the treatment of human health. Part of the improvements in this procedure was the discovery of the various blood types in humans, and how that affects how the immune system responds to and “accepts” blood transfusions. Recently, researchers from the University of British Columbia may have found a reliable way to use a bacterial enzyme from the human gut to convert any type of blood into type O – which is compatible with nearly everyone.

Animation of red blood cells (Photo credit: meghanmecrazy)

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Apple’s war on repair, mining the deep sea, reflecting on the mid-terms, (not) repelling sharks, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: November 12, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

  • Take a moment. Breathe. Then get back to work.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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