sci20007 — Announcement

Connecting Scientists with the Public on Social Media

18 December 2020

Oana Sandu

Social media represents one of the main sources of information and entertainment for users around the world. The number of social media users worldwide in October 2020 amounted to 4.14 billion. 99% of them access social media on a mobile device and users spend an average of 2 hours and 29 minutes per day on social networks and messaging. Facebook remains the market leader, followed by YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Twitter [Source].

Considering its global impact, a social media strategy for ESA/Hubble has always been a must-have in the communication portfolio. In addition to objectives such as making people aware of ESA’s contributions to the Hubble Space Telescope project, we have recently focused on facilitating direct interaction between scientists and the ESA/Hubble community we have grown over the years.

To achieve this, we have started testing live Twitter Q&A sessions when important science results are announced. Once a press release is published, we invite our community to pose questions about the result to a few of the scientists involved in the research. The conversation happens on the ESA/Hubble Twitter account for a limited amount of time, using the special hashtag #HeyHubble (a cultural reference to Hey Siri or Hey Alexa). Behind the scenes, our Community Coordinator chats with the scientists on Skype and together they prepare answers to questions coming in. Answers are then posted on Twitter, using the initials of the scientist who provided the answer, unless it was a team effort. At the end of the session, people are invited to follow the scientists on their own Twitter accounts (where available).

We have organised two Twitter Q&A sessions so far, one for a Total Lunar Eclipse result and one for a result related to dark matter. In total we had almost 100 interactions. The level of engagement is not yet very high, as expected for such initiatives until they gain more traction. However, our channel has great potential to harness. To date, we have reached almost 700 000 followers. In Q3 of 2020 when the sessions were organised, we had 5.6 million impressions. Also during this quarter, one of the top tweets was the one promoting the Q&A session about the Total Lunar Eclipse release, which had 98 364 impressions and 1555 engagements. The quality of the interactions on the other hand is high. The feedback is positive, both from our community and also from the scientists, who say how much they enjoy the activity. They have also mentioned that the activity is a good opportunity for them to learn more about how to edit their answers so that they are suitable for a general audience.

We have also facilitated direct interactions with scientists on the occasion of Hubble’s 30th anniversary. We have hosted ESA’s live streaming on our page, which included 6 sessions in the following languages: Italian, French, German, Spanish and English. The live event reached 135 813 and generated 2960 engagements on our page alone. The #Hubble30 campaign included other diverse activities to engage the public and in total we estimate that we had a gross reach of 47.4 million in ESA Member States

We plan to continue the Twitter Q&A sessions in 2021. If you have results published on our website we hope to collaborate with you to bring your research closer to Hubble fans In Europe and worldwide. We want to work together to bring more visibility to your results, give you the opportunity to answer more in depth questions and learn more about what interests people and how to talk to general audiences.


Oana Sandu
ESA/Hubble Community Coordinator

About the Announcement



ESA/Hubble Tweets inviting people to the Twitter Q&A’s
ESA/Hubble Tweets inviting people to the Twitter Q&A’s
ESA/Hubble Twitter number of followers over time
ESA/Hubble Twitter number of followers over time

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