Last I facilitated a seminar titled, Social Media for Science. It was a joint event between the Western Australian Branches of Australian Science Communicators, (ASC), and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, (RACI). I am on both state committees, (President of the WA Branch of ASC). I was asked to present a talk on science communication to RACI members in the same month ASC in WA was running a social media event. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and combined the two.
Social Media for Science had a Western Australian focus. There are lots of different approaches from different sectors in science in social media in WA. It is quite an exciting time and if anything I wanted to show people that social media networks do not define how an individual or organisation interacts with their audience but rather that social media networks allow the interaction to occur.
I invited three panelists to showcase their uses of social media. I have provided links to their organisations’ web pages and where they can also be found in social media networks.
Editor of ScienceNetwork WA
Digital Communications Specialist at Telethon Institute for Child Health Research
The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research is one of the largest, and most successful medical research institutes in Australia, comprising a dedicated and diverse team of more than 500 staff and students.
Established in 1990 by Founding Director Professor Fiona Stanley, the Telethon Institute was among the first to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to major health issues: clinical research, laboratory sciences and epidemiologists all under the one roof, to tackle complex diseases and issues in a number of ways.
Outreach and Education Officer at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, (ICRAR), is a collaborative centre that is international in scope and that achieves research excellence in astronomical science and engineering.
As a coherent and unified part of Australia’s national effort, ICRAR makes a fundamental contribution to the realisation and scientific success of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
ICRAR is an equal joint venture between Curtin University of Technology and The University of Western Australia. The Centre’s headquarters are located at UWA, with research nodes at both UWA and the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA).
Social media use includes several Facebook, Twitter, flickr accounts as well as a vimeo account.
Each of the speakers were generous and frank about their experiences with social media with the audience. Some of the nuances tweeted during the seminar has been captured in a Storify by Kylie Sturgess. A theme developed during the presentations by the speakers. Social media is great for creating discussion and interacting with your audience. It is not a broadcast medium. The communication is two way.
This can be the sticking point that organisations worry about when considering social media activity but the presenters agreed that if and when someone says something unsavoury or unwelcome that their community is self-policing. Also mentioned that there is also a time when the best thing to do in social media networks is to not respond at all in the case of trolls. Do not feed the trolls!
What was especially stressed was that social media activities are not for replacing traditional methods of disseminating information and connecting with your audience. They are an add-on and part of your existing communication strategy. One question from the floor asked whether social media meant the death of websites.
All presenters agreed that a website is still necessary. It is the “home base” that tells people who you are, where you started and what you are about. A website takes time to develop and it shows people that you have a dedication to your online audience.
As someone who facilitated the seminar, I could not have asked for better speakers. Thank you again Jason Boudville, Ebony Frost and Kirsten Gottschalk for giving your time for being on the panel. People stayed back until 8:30PM talking to one another and it was warming to see chemists mingling with science communicators.
Thank you to everyone who came last night.
To everyone who missed it or have asked whether there will be another Social Media for Science event. There will most likely be another in 2013 so watch this space.