In this guest blog, Imperial‘s Cathy Thomas offers advice on how to use social media to engage (and involve!) the public in your research. What have your experiences with using social media for engagement been? Share your experiences in the comments.
Why bother with social media?
There are over one billion active users on Facebook and over 100 million monthly Instagram users – which means that if you’re looking to connect with members of the public, it’s worth considering how social media and other digital tools could support or enhance your engagement activity.
The useful thing about social media is that it’s a discursive medium that encourages sharing and participation, so rather than simply using it as a tool to promote what you’re doing, there will be ways in which it can support two-way engagement.
What did you do?
One of the main pieces of research activity in the group revolves around using Rapid Evaporative Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) in the form of the iKnife. This is a surgical diagnostic tool that uses the ‘smoke’ bi-product of surgical diathermy (a widely used alternative to traditional scalpels, where electrically induced heat makes precise cuts to remove unwanted tissue whilst minimising blood loss) for real-time tissue identification.