Last month, John White created the hashtag #ozrodents to raise awareness of our native rodents. It’s a great hashtag and people have already started curating content using it. You can check out the latest tweets under the hashtag here.
Most people seem to be using it to share images of the different species they’ve come across. Which is brilliant. Posting more images raises awareness and the hashtag is making it easier for people to find. The conversation hasn’t gone much further, though.
I was lamenting this fact while on a boring train ride from Ringwood to Geelong. I had been owling the night before and was getting close to falling asleep. This post is a result of me trying to keep myself awake.
Note: This post isn’t a critique of the work anyone is doing promoting #ozrodents. I figured it may be useful for anyone trying to promote other species or causes.
A Hashtag Is Just One Part Of Any Strategy
Many great hashtags start out the same way. Someone will see that there isn’t a core place on Twitter to curate content about a particular theme. They’ll create a hashtag and do outreach to make sure people in that community use it when relevant.
One of the main issues right now is that people have to be aware of the hashtag. Like many things in the ecology community, things tend to get a bit insular. Most people wouldn’t be aware of the hashtag, which is normal for anything that is niche. If they looked right now they would find a collection of images, a video and a couple of articles.
Some of the best learning happens when you create resources, rather than just awareness. Here are some ideas.
This is my go-to recommendation for any campaign or online community. One of my great frustrations is that the information out there is too fragmented.
A website dedicated Australian Rodents could be brilliant. It would:
- Create a core place for people to go “oh, you like rodents. Go here!”
- Allow whoever owns the website to create resources that may be shared in other communities.
I can understand why people may be reluctant to go down the website path. I started working on a website about identifying Australian birds almost a year ago and had to pause the project, as each page was taking 4-8 hours.
A website doesn’t have to be complex or overwhelming though. It could be as simple as a blog. I always prefer websites over curated social media accounts because they are so much easier to search. You also don’t have to optimize information to suit particular platforms.
This isn’t necessary however it does make things so much easier.
Curated Social Media Accounts
I’ve been in blogging/social media since 2008. Trends come and go, but the need for good curation has always been there. I’m sure you’ve noticed this in many of your communities. There is a lot of great content out there and many great conversations occurring. It can take a lot of work though to find the best of that content, especially if you have other responsibilities.
A hashtag is brilliant but curated social media accounts take it to the next level. Look at what is happening with @bestecoblogs. I have learned so much from voices I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.
The level conversation surrounding #ozrodents probably doesn’t currently warrant this, but it definitely something all science communicators should be aware of.
I’ll definitely be expanding on curation in future posts.
Infographics aren’t being used much in the science communication communities I participate. I think that they have so much potential however I’m most familiar with their usage in the marketing/blogging niche.
One of the reasons they aren’t being used is because of the learning curve involved in designing them. That is understandable. I’d rather be out birding then spending hours fiddling in photoshop. There is an online product that many bloggers have been using for years called Canva. This is used a lot to create blog and Pinterest graphics.
If you want to experiment, sign up to Canva. Under the blogging and ebook section, there is an area of infographics. They have premade designs that you can lose. There are some that aren’t free but that is just because certain design elements, such as images, would cost money.
There is so much potential to share information. You are mostly limited by your imagination. I knocked up a couple of examples. Note that none of these have any data; I’m just trying to show the potential.
I will be writing about infographic best practices in a future post.
If anyone actually wants to create some infographics and needs help, contact me. I want to do all I can to raise awareness of native wildlife, however am overwhelmed with the sheer amount of research.
Facebook And Instagram Graphics
Canva also allows you to create social media graphics for your favourite platform. This is something that is barely being explored in the science communication and citizen science communities. It is a shame as it has so much potential.
Below are two examples of image templates. The first one is lame – it was the only image I had, and I know very little about native rodents. Both examples show how you can use images to communicate your message. Again, I’ll be writing about how to create compelling social media graphics in a future post.
I’ve left this until last as this involves the most work. Videos can be a great education tool and is something I think everyone should consider. It can involve a lot of work in the beginning as you educate yourself about editing, audio and youtube best practices.
I’ve noticed a growing demand for videos on nature but it depends on the subject. I think that videos walking through the differences between species could be incredibly useful but don’t have the data to back it up. Would be happy to create some as an experiment if any rodent experts could help out.
Over to you
What do you think? Would you be interested in exploring any of these ideas? If not, what are your main obstacles?