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Editorial Snapshot: Social media as a tool for scientists

– A.P., Editor

The extraordinary way in which social media lets people communicate and interact with one another can be an informative and rewarding tool for scientists to engage in science communication with peers and the general public. An estimated 2.5 billion people were using social media in 2017, and this number is expected to top 3 billion by 2021. More than 70 percent of people using the internet use social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which enable users to communicate and share photos, videos, and ideas with others from around the globe.

A recent study looking at how scientists are using social media in the workplace found that scientists use a number of different social media platforms to exchange scientific knowledge and ideas and that they perceive numerous advantages to using social media. A survey by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that many of the scientists that responded used social media platforms on a daily basis for science-related purposes. Moreover, the respondents felt that nonscientists can provide valuable perspectives to discussions about scientific research, discussions made possible by this era of vast interconnectedness brought about by social media.

Does being on social media really make a difference? It does. Research has shown that being mentioned on Twitter can promote the impact of a scientist’s work and actually assist his or her career. Perhaps what is even more important, the online “buzz” that is generated amongst scientists and the general public about the research can further boost the impact of the work.

For a better understanding of science communication in the age of online social networking, here is some helpful information on some popular online social media tools.

If you are interested in using social media as a tool to broaden the reach of your recently published article, try FORTE’s new social media service.

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