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Using social media

You have the physics knowledge and the content to share, so how do you promote it on social media effectively?

We know that not everyone in the physics community is using social media, and if they are it might just be for personal use, so this part of the guide is to help you optimise your use of social media.

Image text reads: How to promote good physics on social media: How to communicate physics clearly, engage your audience, and build a following. Don’t feed the trolls! Woo you have a comment… If it’s a nice one, great, give a nice response! If it isn’t a nice comment, can you educate? If not, it’s a troll, so ignore and block. If you can educate and they get angry, then ignore and block. If you educate and they listen, great, give a nice response!

Choosing the right channels

Identify who your audience is and what types of content they do and will engage with regularly to decide on the platforms to focus on using:  

  • Twitter: the number of daily active users is 187 million, and the largest age group of users is 30-49.
  • Facebook: the number of monthly active users is 2.7 billion. The largest age group of users is 25-34.
  • Instagram: the number of monthly active users is 2 billion. The largest age group of users is 25-34.
  • TikTok: the number of monthly active users is 100 million. The largest age group is 18-24.
  • LinkedIn: the number of total users is 738 million. The largest age group is 46-55.
  • Pinterest: the number of monthly active users is 400 million. The largest age group is 30-49.
  • Snapchat: the number of monthly active users is 265 million. The largest age group: 13-34.
  • YouTube: the number of monthly active users is 2 billion. The largest age group: 15-25. (Data from the “Social media demographics to inform your brand’s strategy in 2021” report by Sprout Social. For a further breakdown by country, use the NapoleonCat tool.)

Focus on what you want to achieve with social media, whether it is putting out educational or inspirational content, bringing more awareness to your organisation or your work, promoting events, driving website traffic, etc. Once you have established this, consider who you are trying to target and where they are likely to find your content. For example, if you are targeting younger people then consider focusing more on video content for platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, as the number of younger people using those platforms is larger.

Choose your tone of voice

Is your, or your organisation’s, online persona formal or informal? This is key to connecting with your audience so they can relate to and engage with your content. When it comes to using humour on social media, be very careful; it’s important to know what your brand is and what kind of personality it conveys. If humour doesn’t fit your, or your organisation’s, persona, it’s best to avoid publishing those types of posts as it could backfire and potentially offend. If you’re not sure, don’t post!

When are the best times to post on your social media to ensure it reaches your audience?

If you are starting out on your social media journey and do not have any audience or posting insights, a study conducted by social media scheduling tool, Sprout Social (“Best times to post, 2021”), recommends the following as a guide to the best times to post on each platform to maximize the chances of your content being seen: 

  • Facebook best days and times: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9AM to 1PM.
  • Instagram best days and times: Monday to Friday, from 11AM to 2PM
  • Twitter best days and times: Tuesday to Thursday, from 9AM to 3PM.
  • LinkedIn best day and times: Tuesday to Thursday from 9AM to 12PM

This is generalised data, and as your audience and content output grows, you will have a better idea as to when your posts are receiving the most engagement. For example, if your demographic is educational professionals, their active social media times are likely to be different to those suggested above, in which case you would tweak your days and times accordingly to fit with your target audience’s online behaviour.

Find the right balance of posting frequency

Post often enough to keep your audience engaged but not too much or too infrequently, as this could result in unfollows. And remember to focus on quality over quantity.

Use images and video where possible to grab your reader

People are also most likely to share this type of content.

Using hashtags is a great way to get your content seen by more people

However, excessive use on Twitter and Facebook could lead to less engagement, so stick to a maximum of two in your posts. On Instagram, you can afford to include a greater number of hashtags but ensure these are relevant to the post and stick to no more than 10 hashtags per post.

Tag influencers and organisations/partners and potential partners where relevant in your posts

They will hopefully retweet and help spread your message further.

Have a disaster plan put in place in case of a backlash on social media to reduce long-term damage

In an organisation, this should include who needs to be notified if there is a social media crisis and how that is defined. It will help to have an agreed protocol and some standard responses, which can be modified to respond to any issues raised.

Responding to feedback

Social media conversations come with positive and negative comments. It is always good to reply to a positive comment, or to an enquiry, but it is important to know the difference between constructive feedback to encourage improvement and hurtful comments. It is recommended that comments that are inappropriate or offensive are not responded to, and the user is blocked.