Telling ocean science stories on social media

Torge Martin, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany, Mirjam S Glessmer, Fascinocean, Kiel, Germany, Elin Darelius, Geophysical Institute Bergen, Bergen, Norway and Yasmin S. Appelhans, Freelance Journalist, Kiel, Germany
Authentic narratives told by “relatable heroes” on social media can expand ocean education and outreach to reach audiences that might not be intrinsically motivated to seek out content on ocean sciences themselves.

We train Bachelor students in Climate Sciences in communicating with a lay audience in a clear and easy to understand, yet entertaining and engaging way. Mandatory, peer-reviewed course reports, for example on training cruises on research vessels or on hands-on experimentation in fluid dynamics laboratories, are specifically written for the purpose of communicating science content as well as students’ enthusiasm and passion for the subject.

We use Social Media, and specifically Instagram, as a tool that enables communication with young audiences in a space they come to for entertainment and community. Rather than trying to establishing a profile and build a community of followers ourselves, we make use of guest posts on, and takeovers of, selected popular accounts. We thus reach a broad audience that might, once exposed, find themselves interested in the topics and might pursue that interest further on other channels, such as our blog. We discuss our experiences with, as well as chances and potential pitfalls of, this approach.