10 Reasons Why Your Science Center Should Open a Twitter Account
The other day I was talking with Edward Mather from ESERO, the European Space Education Resource Office – and among the topics that came up, was the question if opening a Twitter account is worthwhile, along with other several questions regarding this social media channel. I added some more questions of my own and compile 10 reasons why you should open a Twitter account for your science centre, observatory, planetarium or astronomy club. Whether you are the head of such a centre and wonder how Twitter could help you, or you are an outreach person trying to persuade the head of the organisation to open an account on Twitter, this post is for you.
#1 It’s popular
Or in management lingo – it has huge coverage! According to statements from Twitter CEO - Dick Costolo early this year on TechCrunch, Twitter has 190 million users tweeting 65 million times per DAY. Add to that the fact that a New York Times story gets tweeted every 4 seconds and you will get an idea of where social media stand as compared to traditional media. And the gap keeps on widening. During the last three years Twitter has had a 1,500% growth and it’s still growing.
#2 It’s free
The first reaction you will get after showing these numbers to anyone will be: How much does it cost? So impress them and reply: It’s free! Twitter doesn’t charge (yet) for opening accounts or scanning for information.
#3 It’s easy
Huge coverage, no costs. There’s got to be something wrong with this deal! It may well be, but for sure it’s not usability. Twitter is a very user-friendly platform, with just a few conventions such as tweets, RT, D and @mentions. Half an hour of looking around and you should know everything you’ll need.
#4 It’s direct
Unlike traditional channels of communication such as mass media, Twitter and other social media platforms offers you direct access to your target audience. Information that you wish to make available no longer passes through the “watch dog“. You no longer have to be at journalists and editors choice of whether they publish your news or not. With Twitter you send your news directly to your community and as we’ve seen at #1 this community has the potential of being very large.
#5 It’s personal
Direct access to your community also means that you will be engaging in Twitface-to-Twitface conversations with people. This can be scary at first, but on second look you will see it’s just as in everyday interactions with your friends. The biggest advantage of Twitter conversations is that you can create personal relations with your community and become friends with them. This will transform your centre from a cold institution to a friendly “person”.
#6 It’s insightful
Daily interactions with your community will bring you the most valuable asset for communicators: insights and feedback from your target audience. What they like about your center and what they don’t, what topics interest them, when they have free time and so on. Every bit of information is pure gold!
#7 It’s a traffic generator
Twitter brings visitors to your website because it is designed to accept messages no longer than 140 characters. Therefore, you can use it to instigate people’s curiosity, but if you want to inform or educate them, you need to provide a link where more information is available. Alongside with Facebook, Twitter has the potential of being in Top 3 traffic generators for your website, if properly used. No one can beat Google :)
#8 It’s restrictive
…in the sense that it only allows messages of up to 140 characters and that’s a good thing because it challenges you to be concise, interesting and engaging through one line only. What better exercise can one think of for practitioners in outreach or for science communication?
#9 It’s fun
Let’s not forget this. All in all, Twitter it’s a fun place to be and as long as you love to interact with people, you will not only develop a close community for your centre, but you will make professional connections as well as learn a tremendous amount of new things you can use in your job and that can benefit your centre.
#10 It’s your turn
Number 10 it’s for you to fill in. Why would you recommend science centres to open a Twitter account? How has Twitter helped you the most? Leave your comment here or @oanasandu!