The use of web-based platforms, such as Facebook, is increasingly widespread, amongst both individuals and organizations. New Media gives you the chance to potentially establish dialogue, build relationships and engage with the public.

Here we want to describe the use of Facebook by a research institute, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, IGC.To our knowledge, IGC was the first research centre in Portugal to use this platform to communicate science, the researchers behind the science and events (scientific and science communication). With a presence at Facebook, IGC aimed to establish a steady flow of information to a wider audience and, furthermore, set a framework for interactive communication. In order to evaluate the impact of this communications strategy we conducted a study to characterize the audience at this platform and the interactions per post and per theme promoted through this media.

Our preliminary analysis extended over a six months period (from December 2009 to May 2010). As a first approach we analysed interactivity based on the use of “Like” button and number of comments. During this time frame 103 messages were posted on IGC Facebook page, which prompted a total of 707 interactions (57 comments and 600 “Like”). We further characterised the audience, when possible, i.e., when the individual profiles had information visible to others. We analysed the geographical location, profession, age and sex of the general “fan” audience and of the subgroup that interacted with IGC page.

We shall discuss our findings within the context of using Facebook as a medium for dialogue and discussion around scientific issues. Further challenges include involving scientists at the research centres in directly communicating their research through social networks. We hope in the future to extend this analysis to other research institutions that also use these platforms in order to analyse the promises and challenges of using social networks to raise awareness of science and promote dialogue.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Promoting science through Facebook
Characterization of an audience and interactions

Sílvia Castro   Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência

Ana Godinho   School of Communications

The use of web-based platforms, such as Facebook, is increasingly widespread, amongst both individuals and organizations. New Media gives you the chance to potentially establish dialogue, build relationships and engage with the public.

Here we want to describe the use of Facebook by a research institute, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, IGC.To our knowledge, IGC was the first research centre in Portugal to use this platform to communicate science, the researchers behind the science and events (scientific and science communication). With a presence at Facebook, IGC aimed to establish a steady flow of information to a wider audience and, furthermore, set a framework for interactive communication. In order to evaluate the impact of this communications strategy we conducted a study to characterize the audience at this platform and the interactions per post and per theme promoted through this media.

Our preliminary analysis extended over a six months period (from December 2009 to May 2010). As a first approach we analysed interactivity based on the use of “Like” button and number of comments. During this time frame 103 messages were posted on IGC Facebook page, which prompted a total of 707 interactions (57 comments and 600 “Like”). We further characterised the audience, when possible, i.e., when the individual profiles had information visible to others. We analysed the geographical location, profession, age and sex of the general “fan” audience and of the subgroup that interacted with IGC page.

We shall discuss our findings within the context of using Facebook as a medium for dialogue and discussion around scientific issues. Further challenges include involving scientists at the research centres in directly communicating their research through social networks. We hope in the future to extend this analysis to other research institutions that also use these platforms in order to analyse the promises and challenges of using social networks to raise awareness of science and promote dialogue.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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