Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Maximizing Science Outreach on Facebook: An Analysis of Scientists’ Communication Strategies in Taiwan

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Abstract:  The internet, and especially social media platforms, offer scientists new opportunities to connect with a broader public. While many studies have focused on science communication on Twitter, surprisingly few have analyzed how scientists use Facebook, even though it is an essential platform for the general public in many countries. A possible explanation for this lack of research is that scientists keep their Facebook profiles separate from their work life and are more active on Twitter in their professional roles. Our study challenges this assumption by focusing on Taiwan as a peculiar case. Due to the local culture, Twitter is less popular there, and scientists are more active on Facebook, even in their professional roles. In our study, we analyzed 35 public pages of scientists on Facebook and assessed the factors explaining the reach of their communication using content analysis in combination with a multilevel model that allowed us to test predictors on the page level, such as the number of fans, in combination with predictors on the post level, such as the complexity of the language used. Our study shows that Facebook can play an influential role in science outreach. To effectively communicate with the audience on Facebook, it is best to use strategies that appeal to new and existing followers. Posts that address current issues and include opinions are likely to be shared widely, while humor or personal self-disclosure is likely to engage the existing audience. Our study contributes to the current debate about alternatives to Twitter in science communication.

Keywords:  Facebook; science communication; self-disclosure; social media; Taiwan; Twitter

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i1.6080


© Adrian Rauchfleisch, Jo-Ju Kao, Tzu-Hsuan Tseng, Chia-Tzu Ho, Lu-Yi Li. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.