Social media platforms are online platforms filled with user-provided content. This means these platforms do not contain any content themselves, but rather make up a framework for users to fill with whatever content they want. The popularity of certain content is then defined by the number of users visiting or interacting with the user who owns the content.
Social media was in the beginning used mostly for personal and private matters, but with increasing popularity and technical development they have become not only news channels but also news sources. People from all over the world can live stream and document events of almost any character.
This is what makes social media very powerful, but also makes it challenging when reports start to skew reality into something it is not or present pseudo-science as science.
Social media are mostly easy to use and provides direct access to users all over the world. This is the advantage for science communicators, who can benefit a lot from using these platforms.
Below are described some of the platforms used for science on social media.
This platform provides the tool of sending out messages -tweets- up to 280 characters. It is convenient to use and you can add photos or animations to your tweets making it easier for the audience to digest your science. Adding hashtags to your tweets makes it easy for you to reach out to users that do not follow you (yet). Twitter is used much by journalists, scientists and politicians. You can access it from a browser, tablet and smartphone.
This platform provides a tool for sharing photos and short videos in your network. It makes it easy for you to share you life as a scientist or show scientific processes, computer code (yes, that!) and much more. Add some emojis and hashtags to increase your followers. You can access it from your tablet and smartphone (browser only accessible for upload in developer mode).
This platform provides a tool for professional networking and is similar to ResearchGate. It is set up so that you easily can show your professional path and connect with people across industries. You can also create posts, updates and share links making it easier for you to share articles about the impact of science with potential board members of grant foundations, companies, etc. You can access it from a browser, tablet and smartphone.