One of the 2018 achievements that I feel pretty proud of is developing a social media strategy for the science communication research project Kiel Science Outreach Campus, and implementing it together with the project’s 11 PhD students (plus a couple more colleagues who we “entrained” along the way). And the second article we wrote about the social media project has just been published! (See first part here, new (second) article here).
Check it out, as well as our Twitter @KiSOC_Kiel and Instagram @KiSOC_Kiel — both lead to the project’s central social media. Sadly, these accounts have not been kept alive after I left, but checking out especially the Instagram is still pretty interesting, because it links to all the different PhD students’ accounts, which are awesome, and which are actually what we describe in the article. A lot of inspiring content to be found there!
P.S.: The pretty design was made by Sonja Taut — thanks so much for that! :-)
Inspired by the absolutely brilliant job that Kati is doing for my project GEO-Tag der Natur, I have recently started experimenting with “Insta stories” on the topic of wave watching.
Insta stories, for those who aren’t familiar with them, are a special type of post on Instagram that only stays visible for 24 hours (unless you save them as highlight, in which case they can be watched until you decide to delete them). They are usually used to give quick glimpses into what’s going on that day, and can be anything from random snap- or screen shots to elaborate stories. The latter is what Kati has been doing for GEO-Tag der Natur — she tells cute and engaging short stories about different topics, using photos and video clips, which she combines with fun gifs to make them even cuter (if you have an Instagram account you can watch them in the highlights of our account).
So that’s what I have been trying to do, too.
My first attempt is posted below — except that what I post below doesn’t contain the links and gifs and stuff, because it turns out that while you can export stories from Instagram, I couldn’t convert them into a format that my blog or vimeo would accept and still keep the gimmicks (original version here). But I still like the format of telling a story. What do you think?
The feedback I got on that story was super positive, so I decided to do it again.
Since my second Insta story contained so many cute gimmicks, I didn’t even attempt to export it, but wrote a separate blog post using the same videos and pictures (But you can watch the story — including the cute gimmicks! — here).
(And then, when writing this blog post, I realized that if I did a screencast, I could that then convert into something my blog accepts. Duh! So below you can watch my story the way I see it when logged into my account — including how many people watched it and all the buttons that I could click to edit and exit etc.. In the future I should probably just do the screencast from a different account to give you a cleaner view…)
By this point, it started bugging me that I was putting effort into Insta stories but that I didn’t have a good way to use them on my own blog (remember, I hadn’t come up with the screencast idea yet). I like having full control over hosting the stuff I don’t want to disappear, and I don’t like telling the same story twice for different platforms (although I realize that customizing stories for each platform and thus audience is always good advice).
So the next story didn’t use fancy gimmicks (except on the last slide), and I could export the pictures and combine them into the .gif you see below.
Mmmmh, I like that!
Except now I am thinking I should still do an English gif for my blog and keep the German one to my Instagram. Which, again, feels like a lot of work for something that I want to do in random pockets of time like on my commute, not as a real task. So my next story was a language-free one:
So in the end it turns out that classical gifs work quite well for transporting my stories. Not nearly as cute as they could be, but maybe that’s ok?
What do you think? What style of Insta story would you like to see more of?
Option A: Give me cute little gimmicks like ducks on surfboards and ladies jumping into pools!
Option B: GIFs work well and I don’t need all the cutesy gimmicks
So today (and tomorrow and the day after) is the big event that I have been working towards all year in my not-so-new-anymore job: The GEO-Tag der Natur! If you are curious about what’s going on there, check out our Instagram account @geo.tag.der.natur that Kati is doing an amazing job with!
As you can imagine, the weeks running up to this weekend were quite busy and a little stressful, too. So last Sunday I went to the beach to hang out with friends and do some wave watching! Because nothing has a more calming effect on me than watching water…
For example below we see nicely the effect of the wave (and wind) breakers on the wave field. In the lee of the wave breaker, the water is completely calm, whereas towards the right of the bay waves form and grow larger and larger.
And below we see a pretty cool “diffraction at slit” example: Straight wave fronts reach the slit between two wave breakers, and as they propagate through the slit, they become half circles.
But to relax and get my thoughts away from my job, I tried something new: I created and posted my first ever Instagram story! I’m not quite sure it’s my format, but I definitely had fun! What do you think? Would you like to see more of those? (I only just realized the story is in german and my blog in English. Posting anyway… Would anyone like to see this kind of stuff in English? Then please let me know and I’ll see what I can do…)
(P.S.: Since I made this for Instagram, the format of the video was optimized for viewing on a mobile phone. Therefore it looks crap embedded in a blog. But some you win, some you loose…)
What do you do to relax and get your mind off of work? Wave watching and posting about it on social media? Have you ever tried that? Or what else would you recommend?
Interesting year-in-review: despite amazing photo opportunities in Cyprus and Norway and other beautiful places, the Kiel fjord is clearly dominating my most successful Instagram posts of 2018 (only two are not from the Kiel fjord, one is from the Kiel Canal and another one from the Eckernförde bight, so still very close to home…). But I guess it shows the “Kiel” in my Instagram handle @fascinocean_kiel wasn’t an accident ;-)
One of the 2018 achievements that I feel most proud of is developing a social media strategy for the science communication research project Kiel Science Outreach Campus, and implementing it together with the project’s 11 PhD students plus a couple more colleagues who we “entrained” along the way. And now an article we wrote about the whole social media has just been published! (pdf of the article and a link to the full issue No 4 of the IPN Journal). Check it out, as well as our Twitter @KiSOC_Kiel and Instagram @KiSOC_Kiel — both lead to the project’s central social media, which in turn often link to our individual scicomm social media profiles.
extend my portfolio as science communicator to include Instagram (clearly achieved since I’ve been asked to give interviews and workshops on how to use Instagram for science communication purposes, and I have four solid months of scicomm Insta to show),
establish a “proof of concept” of sorts: An Instagram profile that uses daily snapshots of something that isn’t possible to plan for 100% (in this case waves, but it might also be clouds or anything else you go out to observe without knowing exactly what to expect each day) but consistently points out interesting things specific to that day’s situation and explains different aspects every day, and in doing so target a specific, local audience in order to raise awareness of a very specific topic (so if anyone is looking for a science communicator to do this: I’ve proven that I am ready if a) your topic is something that I can get really excited about and b) you pay me for doing the work ;-)),
provide an example of an Instagram profile to the PhD students in my project, who I was tasked with motivating to start science communication on social media (which worked beautifully: Check out the KiSOC_Kiel Instagram we are running for the project, and it links to all the different accounts of KiSOC PhDs and friends!).
So yes, even though I’m really happy with how things worked in the “proof of concept” phase, I am done with it now. For any science communication, it is really important that you not only have your goal, audience and message clear, but also that it fits with your lifestyle. And while snapping pictures of Kiel fjord every morning before work is fine while I am in Kiel, I am travelling too much for work to be as consistent as I would like for the purpose of the specific Instagram strategy described above (both because the regular Kiel fjord theme will have gaps, and also because during those gaps I am snapping pictures of water elsewhere that I also want to post!). But so over a longish period of time I’ve been thinking about where to go with fascinocean_kiel, in terms of goals, message, audience and also feasibility in my life and what I really enjoy.
“Proof of concept” phase is over, and what is going on now and in the future will be disconnected from what went on until the end of July(-ish). Goals are different, audience is different, message is different, and that is fine!
Goal: This will not be a profile with the primary focus on establishing a good practice example for science communication any more. This will be my private creative outlet, and thus I will only post when I feel like it and not try to keep up a regular schedule (yep, I know that’s bad for the algorithm, but that’s fine), and I will post on whatever I fancy that moment.
Audience: I’ll be writing in English again, because the people that I want to reach with my posts and that I want to interact with are basically people who are my blog’s current audience (or people who haven’t found my blog yet, but are “similar” to my established readers): People with an interest in oceanography and/or teaching worldwide, not restricted to a german speaking community. I’ll also let go of the idea of specifically talking to a lay audience. I’ll try to still write in a way that you don’t need training in oceanography to follow, but I am now envisioning people like my friends Ib, Elin, Nena, Heiko, or my parents or sisters reading the posts, and I’ll be writing for them.
Message: Posts won’t contain a lot of information themselves (unless for some reason I feel like it that day), instead, they will be used to advertise new blog posts (which then will contain more text).
Feasibility: I am taking this from something that I do “for my job, but on my own time” and following the fairly restrictive design criteria described above to purely a creative outlet.
Phew, that actually takes SO MUCH pressure off me! Even though it has been a lot of fun to do all this fascinocean_kiel stuff, it has also been work! And I have enough other stuff that I do pro bono that, in the long run, I think will have a bigger impact. So goodbye, old fascinocean_kiel! It was fun, but here is to new challenges and new solutions! :-)
Oh, and you actually wanted to see the stuff I did in July, too? More below the cut…
Even though I started my Instagram @fascinocean_kiel mainly as a proof of concept thing that I wanted to do for one month only to be able to put it on my CV, it has now been active for three months and it’s still going strong. Why? Because it’s fun! And because it contributed to what I had hoped would happen: Getting the PhD students in my project to also try Instagram. There are so many new accounts being created and active!
We have the project itself as @kisoc_kiel, and then there are very cool accounts (listed in order of creation) by Sara Siebert @frauwissenschaft, Martina Kapitza @martina_kapitza, David Hölscher @hoelscher_arc, Nena Weiler @nena_weiler, and a couple more that I know are in the process of being launched that I will share as soon as they are active. Check them out, they provide a great peek into the projects and especially the people that make up the Kiel Science Outreach Campus! And it’s such a fun group of people to be on an Instagram journey with! :-)
Below the cut, mainly as my private archive, my May Instagram posts. I would strongly encourage you to look at them on the Instagram website (or, obviously, inside the app if you have it) because there are a couple cool movies in here that are now just screenshots, and also I didn’t copy all my awesome descriptions in, either. Plus if you don’t read German, Instagram has a translation function… ;-)
Yes, I have been slacking on the blogging front. But I’ve been very active somewhere else: On Instagram! My account @fascinocean_kiel has been updated almost daily over the last month (I did continue with my private March #SciCommChall), and that has been a great learning experience!
Here is a random list of things I learned in April:
A lot of people who like my posts do so because they are interested in Kiel. And for them to find my pictures, hashtags (#s) are super important. A lot more so than I thought! During April, most of my pictures got 40 “likes” or over. Usually my pictures are from Kiel fjord and thus tagged with Kiel, KielerFoerde, and other local tags. But then I went to Kühlungsborn for work and had a couple of — really pretty and interesting! — pictures from there, which I couldn’t tag the way I usually do, for obvious reasons. And those pictures did so much worse than pictures from Kiel! Even though I did include all the relevant oceanographic #s (like waves etc), the scicomm #s and the local Kühlungsborn #s. I guess this is what I aimed for by creating a german-speaking account that focusses on Kiel fjord, but I want to build on what I have and attract more people that really want the ocean scicomm bit, too, not just pretty pictures of Kiel fjord.
On that note: pictures are so much more important than texts! I guess I knew that one, too, and it comes with using Instagram as the channel of choice (rather than blogging, for example). But I still find it slightly shocking that pictures of nice sun rises with a bird in the foreground will get so many more “likes” than pictures of exciting oceanography accompanied by good texts!
I am assuming that only very few people actually read the texts I am writing (even thought they are an integral part of why I am running that Instagram account). I know for sure that three people on Instagram read everything I write and a couple more read occasionally, and then a handful of my friends read it on Facebook, and I hope that my parents do so either in this post or looking at the Instagram website. But that’s really not so many people compared to how much time it takes to write all that stuff!
Posting more than one picture at a time isn’t a good idea, people won’t actually pay attention to all of them equally. When I post more than one picture at a time, the “likes” I would typically get seem to get divided between the pictures posted at the same time.
Doing cool gifs to explain what’s going on isn’t as great an idea as I thought, either. I only tried this once, but a) you can’t post gifs on Instagram, you have to convert them to movies first, which makes the whole thing quite a hassle, b) it’s difficult for people to see the text as well as the gif simultaneously, so the gif has to either be self-explanatory or it won’t add much benefit, and c) I think I’ll stick to pictures and do the more in-depth explanations back here on my blog.
I’m getting a little bored with just posting water the way I’ve been doing for two months now (as in: open water in some kind of pretty picture). For example, I have nice pictures of latte macchiato and awesome flow patterns therein which don’t fit my vision of my Instagram account, but which I think are cool and interesting and which I want to share. Do you see these rows in the flow going down the slope of the glass below the inverse shoulder (no idea how you call that part of a glass?). How cool are those? And what is going on there? I really want to talk about this somewhere, so watch out for it on here! :-)
I also want to experiment more with the typical instagram-ing — describing my daily life as a scientist, using videos on stories, etc.. But that doesn’t fit with my vision for that account, either. So either I will need to start another account or work on expanding my vision to include all the stuff I would like to experiment with… But right now I am leaning towards more accounts and keeping this one the way it was set up, because …
I am very pleased with how me starting my Instagram did help my colleagues start experimenting with social media, and how the very distinct design choices I made for this account helped open up discussions of how Instagram can be used for a multitude of different purposes. More on that very soon :-)
Anyway, that’s all I can think of right now. All of April’s @fascinocean_kiel Instagram posts below the cut. Enjoy, and I’ll try to blog a little more during May! :-)
My private #SciCommChall for March was to start a science communication Instagram account, fascinocean_kiel. I had a pretty clear idea of where I wanted to go with this account:
The target group are people who live close to Kiel fjord who I want to talk to about oceanographic phenomena you can spot when walking along Kiel fjord
For that, I wanted to post daily pictures of whatever is going on that day, plus short explanations in German
I wanted to do this as a proof of concept, to get an idea of the amount of work involved, and to get a feel for how many people you can reach organically with this kind of content; basically to build my portfolio as a science communicator.
This post is for all of you who are curious about
a) how that has been going (I will reflect on that below); or
b) what I have actually done on Instagram, since you don’t actually use the app.
So here we go! :-)
a) How Instagram is working for me (or, at least, the first couple of weeks)
My first impression after four weeks on Instagram: It’s fun! I thought it would be less work than writing a blogpost, but it’s actually not, it is just different. I have to take and select pictures a lot more carefully, crop them, sometimes put a filter on or something (except the green lakes — those were 100% real!), but now I have to think about relevant hashtags so people can find my posts…
And social media are really that, social. Through Instagram, I have connected with a lot of people who I only met through Instagram: On my very first day actively posting on Instagram, I have received an invitation to visit something really cool (will let you know when it’s not a big secret any more). Then, several people who I didn’t know before, messaged me to tell me they liked my “feed”. And then I got recommended for an interview about scientists and social media by someone I don’t even know! I am very impressed with the community on Instagram. And connection also works the other way round: I have found amazing science communicators on Instagram whose posts I look forward to reading every day, for example stories.of.a.scientist, science.sam, bakingsciencetraveller, and sci_wilson, just to name a few.
As for how many people I’ve been reaching (after less than a month on Instagram!): A picture typically get 30-40 “likes”. My best picture currently has 87 likes, but that’s a really awesome picture if I say so myself (see below). I think this picture performed so well for two reasons: because it’s a really cool picture, but also because it’s showing an exclusive view of my favourite restaurant in really really bad weather. I think that people recognized the spot and that I had an exclusive pic really helped.
fascinocean_kiel is my latest scicomm project — I am posting daily pictures from Kiel fjord together with a german description of some cool oceanography stuff you can see on the picture. But Instagram has a pretty good translator built in, and I am happy to translate any post if you leave me a comment with the picture you are interested in!
My latest post is the picture above: Here you can calculate the dominant wave length from the length of the pier and where waves are breaking through the floor boards of said pier. Storms are awesome when you are safely on land!
And below you can take a look at the whole fascinocean_kiel Instagram feed. See you over on Instagram? :-)