Help close the consensus gap using social media
Posted on 20 May 2013 by Matt Birdoff
Over the last few days, there has been intense interest in our consensus paper and The Consensus Project website. The fact that the paper has been reported widely in mainstream media across the world is an important step towards reducing the gaping chasm between public perception of scientific consensus and the 97% reality. Having President Obama tweet about our paper to over 31 million followers (with 2,400+ retweets!) will certainly help close the consensus gap.
However, as the above Consensus Gap graph shows, it will take a broad, persistent effort to reduce this misperception. To contribute to this effort, our team at SJI Associates (who put together the amazing Consensus Project website) will continue to work on eye-grabbing, compelling graphics. These graphics are designed to be shared through social media - on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
This is a key part of our communications strategy, and could be a powerful way to reach people and make a significant impact, if we can get our messages to go viral. But in order for the social media to be successful, it will take the full participation of the engaged community to help spread the word, so we're asking for everyone's help.
Share and like our page and posts from Facebook. And follow us on Twitter and retweet our tweets.
Initially we'll be focusing on communicating the level of consensus across published papers, and then the scientists themselves, but as time moves on we'll be expanding that message in order to keep it fresh and engaging (there are only so many times and ways you can say "97% level of consensus" before it gets repetitive). We already have some intriguing ideas in the planning stages, but in addition to those campaigns, we'll also be creating easily adaptable templates so that we can respond instantly to timely events when appropriate.
As posts containing graphics are more likely to be noticed and reposted, visual style and simplicity of message are key. One part of the project that has been challenging is boiling down the complex message into the simplest, boldest one possible. Our firm's mantra has long been "The fewer words, the better." when it comes to advertising, and this has been proven to be an effective strategy in the complex media landscape we live in. I'm often teased for seeking out the one-word headline as the Holy Grail—sometimes we even get there. It's my hope that in the future, when we look back on The Consensus Project and write the summary of it, I'll be able to write that one-word headline.
But we'll need everyone's help to get there.