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Creating Online Messages

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Regardless of where you post your information online, how can you craft your content to reflect the way you would like it to be received by readers?

  • The Medium and Message Matters: When using online platforms to communicate your work, be sure not to stray from the basic concepts of communication and message development. With online platforms, users can click away from your content in an instant, so stay on point and convey a concise message just as you would in person.
  • Let the Audience Be Your Guide: Most likely, you encounter the same (or similar) questions time after time during public interactions. Use those as a baseline for developing your content. When you identify recurring questions, frame them in an interview-type format and post them to the appropriate outlet.
  • Tweak Content for the Tool at Hand: When you communicate your work online using various tools, it can be easy to fall into a "one size fits all" mentality. A message on TV with images will differ from one on the radio, and online platforms can be as different. As you add more and more outlets, take care to learn the differences and nuances of each.
  • Collaborate with Communicators: Consider reaching out to your institution's communication staff to suggest science content. With your science knowledge and their understanding of the technologies available, you can work to develop an online strategy that incorporates new, social and multimedia to spread the word about your work.
  • Cross-Promote: Did you just post a video on YouTube? Announce it on Facebook, Twitter, your blog and any other platform you are using. Once you become comfortable with each of the different tools, consider how they compliment each other and use them for cross-promoting updates.
  • Pipe Up: Join existing conversations instead of reinventing all the wheels. See what other scientists are saying online and contribute to their threads. Continue to do so even after you have developed your own original content — if you remain an active member of the community at large, others will be more likely to interact with your content.
  • Don't Forget Analytics: Use the analytics on each platform as unofficial feedback. For example, compare your word choice and message development for a blog post that rendered a high number of hits versus another entry that got less attention, and then use this knowledge to develop future posts.