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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Skeptical Science and social media - Ask not what SkS can do for you, but what you can do for SkS

Posted on 18 January 2013 by Anne-Marie Blackburn

SkS Facebook 8000 likesIn February 2010, Skeptical Science launched its Facebook page with the aim of extending our reach. On 4 January 2012, the number of people who liked this page reached 8,000. Skeptical Science has been present on various social media for some time now and we thought it was time to promote the work we do via different channels of communication. Hopefully this will help us celebrate more milestones in the near future.

So why opt for social media when we have a blog through which we can communicate climate science? The central idea here is to increase our online presence. The Web is a hive of activity and ideas vying for people's attention. In such an environment, providing information in bite-sized chunks increases exposure to and awareness of our work. Social media also provide a less formal platform from which to reach people who prefer a more relaxed environment in which to share ideas and solutions or might feel intimidated by the science. So not only does our Facebook page include re-posts from our blog, it also links to articles from the mainstream media and includes graphics, photos and videos. Members of our community can also share their own content and get involved in discussions. In other words, Facebook is enabling us to communicate with more people and complements our blog. But the story does not end here.

Our Twitter account is also growing and now has over 5,800 followers. The strength of Twitter lies in the opportunity to take part in real-time discussions, which is particularly important when topics are trending or when events are occurring at that time. It allows us to add our voice to the debates and discussions taking place online. Our YouTube channel, which we are hoping to use more in the future, is now hosting Kevin C's excellent video showing that the human contribution to warming has carried on unabated over the past 16 years.

And our first tentative steps on Pinterest are already showing promise. Pinterest provides the perfect platform for sharing graphs, cartoons and photos which inform and provide food for thought as well as potential solutions. This is an invaluable resource in an environment where people's time is limited. The figure below shows an aggregate picture of the Skeptical Science graphics updated to Pinterest. These diverse ways of communicating our message mean we can reach more people and make our content more accessible.

Aggregate of SkS graphics on Pinterest

Our aim is to carry on engaging with our community as much as possible. Opening up conversations is a great way for us to gather information on what matters and how we can improve climate science communication. Social media also provide a way to easily network with those whose aims are similar to ours, that is to communicate climate science, correct misrepresentations and misinformation, and find solutions to the problems facing us. Major players, such as Michael Mann, Climate Progress and Katharine Hayhoe, can be found on various social media. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), advocacy and green groups, news providers and individuals complete the picture, linking thousands of people across continents. Tapping into this network and in turn providing support and ideas show the potential of social media in creating a global community capable of addressing global issues such as climate change.

So if you have the relevant accounts, why not join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, and help us make Skeptical Science more prominent and relevant to our varied community? 

You can also follow some of our authors/contributors on Twitter:

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Comments 1 to 8:

  1. Don't forget G+!
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  2. I was very sceptical of Twitter for several years, believing it was just used for inane chat. Then I spoke to someone who explained their use of it. I was intrigued; and not too long ago I signed up. I then discovered that in fact Twitter is whatever you want it to be.

    My approach is to focus, choose a range of complementary subjects to tweet about and don't be tempted to stray into areas where one group of your followers will be put off by what another group is discussing. As an extreme example; don't tweet about climate change and about your love of drag racing; or your belief in creationism and your support for abortion. You get the drift.

    Next; only follow people that discuss things you are really interested in and who are consistent (see para above). Following other people just because they've followed you is tempting but ultimately just clogs your in-box.

    Last; keep the standard of your tweets as high as you can. By which I mean original, interesting, informative and occasionally funny. You'll be rewarded with a good band of followers: quality not quantity. Hey, I've just 193 as I write, but they include 24 scientists; 31 journalists; 15 climate scientists; oh, and 3 people who are, let's say 'in denial' (one can't have everything).

    So jump on in if you've not tried already. The main benefit is that if something happens that's important to your interest areas, you'll hear about it within minutes of the news breaking. Who knows, you might be instrumental in making the news. If you have an original thought or stumble across some interesting info and tweet it (like I just did about this SkS post!), there's a lot of pleasure in seeing a top journalist or climate scientist re-tweeting it within seconds.

    So please follow me @JohnRussell40
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  3. Yes, I agree with pbjamm. I realise you can't do everything at once, but Google+ is quite large now, 500 million users to Facebook's 1000 million. G+ is still growing fast, FB is showing signs of struggling.

    At the very least set up an account before someone else takes the name. Do that now, today, right away. Come back and develop it later but secure the name now.
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  4. A number of us are already on G+ but we are not really organized there yet.

    John, I agree with you about Twitter. It's much more useful than I thought it would be and it's the best climate news feed I have got. I'm relatively new there and am slowly learning my way around. Your advice seems sound.
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  5. Note: I've just added icons in the SkS left margin linking to our YouTube channel and Pinterest page.
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  6. Excellent, John. Puts things handy for quick reference.
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  7. I've put key graphs on my FB "Cover". I think this is a good way to advertise to friends key persuasive information. When they mouse over your profile picture, they will see this cover picture pop up. I've had one image in place now for several months; it would be better if I rotated through different pictures so to keep interest up. But, one issue is that to effectively show the whole picture requires cropping and re-sizing the image to 712(W)x260(H) pixels. This is a very wide & squatty image. This doesn't work for most of the graphs and yet still show a proportionally sized image. Not asking for a lot of work to issue 2nd set of images, but just laying this out as something to think about when generating these images.
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  8. I got quite addicted to Twitter, a constant stream of interesting stuff, but it's also sometimes like drinking from a firehose.

    I'm perhaps a bit over-considerate, and only tweet if I have something useful to contribute, and then only in moderation.
    It's great for having a chance of reaching an intended audience, as I'm tentatively doing now plugging my latest Arctic Sea Ice Volume animation, with soothing music: Arctic Requiem... (John, you're welcome to add it to the resources, as with the last video.)

    It's getting some interest and a few retweets, and ad revenue may even eventually cover the cost of the electricty used to render it!
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