SMC Social Media Snapshot – how are our research institutions using Twitter, Facebook etc?

Science and social media make comfortable bedfellows according to the inaugural SMC Social Media Snapshot, which examines use of social media platforms by New Zealand institutions engaged in scientific research.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.04.57 pmMost research institutions have some form of social media presence and several have amassed tens of thousands of followers, helping them to stay engaged with a broad audience who “share”, “like” and “favourite” their content.

Which institutions are using social media in the New Zealand science sector, what are the most popular social media platforms and who is making best use of them?

We tackled these question by undertaking an informal stocktake of social media usage, aiming to get a clearer picture of social media use by organisations involved in scientific research.

Our findings:

  • Around 90 per cent of the country’s 45 major research organisations engaged in scientific research have an official social media presence (at least one official social media account).
  • Twitter is the most popular social media platform among research institutions, followed by Facebook and Youtube.
  • Institutions most commonly have a presence on 2 or 3 social media platforms.
  • The University of Auckland, GeoNet and Te Papa have the most followers for Facebook, Twitter and Youtube respectively.
  • Smaller research groups within institutions have been slower to adopt social media, but Facebook is their preferred platform.

SMC Director, Peter Griffin, said the data collected show that research institutions are paying growing attention to their social media presence with the likes of Twitter and Facebook used not only to communicate new research findings, but to keep in touch with alumni and publicise courses and events.

“We are also seeing some institutions really starting to leverage social media to try and spread their content far and wide. They are coming up with compelling, short videos that are likely to play well on Facebook and riding the news cycle by tweeting commentary on topical news stories,” said Griffin.

“I expect to see more of this type of thing as the general approach of the New Zealand science sector to social media ramps up and becomes more sophisticated. Many organisations are now having a genuine, two-day interaction with followers on social media platforms which is great to see, as research suggests this is an increasingly important channel for Kiwis to find out information about science.”

Download the SMC Social Media Snapshot or view below.

The Science Media Centre has collated all the Twitter accounts covered in the snapshot into a handy Twitter list, available here. It is a work in progress so if there are any you think we missed, let us know by tweeting us @smcnz