Snow, Ice, & Satellites: An Early Career Researcher’s Experience with Twitter

Friday, 19 December 2014: 9:30 AM
Allen Pope, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, United States and Theodore A Scambos, Univ Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
As a doctoral student, I was lucky enough to be able to experiment with a variety of communication and outreach activities (classroom visits, museum events, science festivals, blogging, social media, etc.) to build communication skills and learn how to talk about my science without writing a journal article. More importantly, the wide range of experience helped me identify what worked for me. My favorite way to share my science now? Twitter.

To many, Twitter is a frivolous platform for sharing snippets 140 characters or less. To me, however, it is how I can connect directly with the elusive “wider public” and share my science.

Specifically, I use satellite imagery (mostly Landsat 8) to study glaciers around the world. I look at long-term change related to climate, and I also investigate new, innovative ways to use satellite imagery to better understand glaciers and ice sheets. Luckily for me, my research is very visual. Whether fieldwork snapshots or satellite data, images make for great, shareable, accessible tweets.

In this presentation, I propose to share my experience of tweeting as an early career researcher. I will include successful strategies (e.g. particular #hashtags, creating new content, using story-telling, timely tweets), as well as some not-so-successful attempts. I will also talk about how I built my Twitter network. In addition to anecdotes, I will include evaluation of my Twitter activity using available metrics and analytics (e.g. followers, favorites, re-tweets, Klout score, etc.).

While misunderstood by many in the scientific community, Twitter is a platform increasingly being adopted by researchers. Used correctly, it can be a great tool for connecting directly with an interested, non-technical audience eager to learn about your research. With my experiences and evaluation, I will show how both scientists and the networks that they join and create can benefit by using Twitter as a platform for science communication.