How your social media networks can speed up your research

Wednesday 24th October, 2012

Today I’ve been looking into an idea for a potential project which would combine podcasting, museums and science. It’s only an idea so far, and before I can take the plunge and propose it to anyone, I need to know if it’s a goer or not.

So I’ve been reaching out into various social media communities to help me in my quest to find out more about the latest podcasting trends. And I hope this post shows that as well as benefitting me in finding information and expertise quickly, the social media research method also starts to create a network of people who I’d be likely to come back to if I do get traction (i.e. money) to begin the project.

Early in the day I posted on Twitter a query asking: Museums and podcasts: who’s doing it, and doing it well? @kidsinmuseums any thoughts?

Kids in Museums, who are great at engaging with the Twittersphere, helpfully retweeted my query to their 9,000 followers. I learned from replies kindly send by Frankly Green + Web, who work with cultural organisations to use mobile in smart ways, that the National Gallery has been running a successful monthly podcast for 6 years, so I made a note to check on that. @FranklyGW also counselled that podcasts are probably better at engaging audiences more deeply rather than growing new audiences, something I had been wondering about.

In a different community, I could ask a slightly different question. The Association of British Science Writers, of which I’m a member, includes science journalists, writers and communicators of all kinds. I posted to the group a query about current science podcasts. Podcasts – what’s the verdict? I asked – is podcasting beneficial to organisations or too labour-intensive for most to pursue?

I mentioned some podcasts of which I was aware: award-winning Guardian Science Weekly, Naked Scientists from Cambridge University, Focus magazine, and then on the institutional front, the Wellcome Trust’s Packed Lunch podcasts and the Science Museum’s periodic exhibition podcasts like the Oramics series.

From replies so far, I have learned from Ben Valsler (who produces Naked Science’s podcasts) about a host more people podding away: the NERC-funded Planet Earth Podcast, the RSC’s Chemistry World podcast plus spin offs “Chemistry in its Element” and “Molecules that Matter”, and space podcasts: Space Boffins, Jodcast and 365 days of Astronomy, so I’ll be checking these out.

Celia Kozlowski pointed me to Scientific American’s 60-second-science podcasts which sounded so snappy I had a look straight away, and I also learned of Pod Academy, which podcasts about the latest scientific research.

A key point raised was that regular updates are a must for credibility and to have a chance at holding (or growing) an audience.

I can continue these discussions directly with people who responded, or continue the conversation with the group if interest continues. And as you can imagine, if I were doing research for a commissioned project or article, those who responded with information or opinions would be among my first port of call to go deeper into the topic.

I’m really grateful to those who have responded so far, and it’s important that when I can, I give back to my communities to keep the social whirl turning.

I’ll put updates into the comments.

One response to “How your social media networks can speed up your research”

  1. rebecca says:

    MicrobeTalk – microbiology podcast:
    Physics World podcasts:
    ESPRC podcasts by Jane Reck, e.g.

    Thanks everyone!

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