Thanks, Sea Grant Academy participants, for a stimulating discussion about ways you might use social media to support your public outreach and communication efforts – and about how some of you already are!

One thing that I hope came across is that different media are useful for different purposes. Here are some off-the-cuff examples:

Facebook Pages are good for:

  • Connecting with the communities of place and interest you serve and letting them know about activities and services relevant to them: Meetings (make them Facebook Events so people can invite their friends), public hearings, education and training programs, surveys you’d like them to take part in, seafood festivals, workshops, etc. As OSG’s Ruby Moon noted, you can also pass along information from other trusted sources: Coast Guard notices, regulatory actions, policy changes, etc. Ask them to share the news with their friends!
  • NOAA runs an annual series of events aimed at increasing weather and climate resilience. The Weather-Ready Nation site has a new National Seasonal Safety Campaign that your program’s communicators probably already tie into. Bookmark that calendar and use your FB Page to promote what you and your program are doing to make coastal communities more resilient to everything from hurricanes and other storms to rip currents and other beach hazards. Make sure your communicators know when you do that – they regularly report to the National Sea Grant Office, which passes the information along to NOAA, giving  your activities a higher profile and boosting your reach.
  • Consider keeping a file of interesting or amusing facts related to your work and posting them as periodic “Did you know?” items when you don’t have anything else to post. “Did you know … bringing home plants, food products and other items from trips can also bring invasive pests that might be hitch-hiking on those items? Don’t pack a pest!”

Twitter is good for:

  • Staying connected with the people you’re with this week, and others in the nationwide Sea Grant network. I hope you all get each other’s Twitter handles before you go home, follow each other, and stay in touch! Cross-state collaborations, formal and informal, can multiply the effects of your work and bring you new ideas. And follow me: @kightpat
  • Expanding your reach. Sea Grant folks on Twitter regularly retweet each other’s stuff; that can bring you new followers, potential collaborators and friends, and a more vibrant – and useful- Twitter feed.
  • Learning. Feel free to follow prominent science bloggers, researchers and others in or around the edges of your field. Checking your feed even once a day can bring you new knowledge, news, and ideas you may be able to adapt to your own work.
  • Live-blogging conferences and other events, briefly. Find out the official event hashtag, Tweet throughout the event, as you have time, with your observations, experiences and reactions. Follow others who do the same, and you’ll get an expanded view of the event … and new connections, too.

Google+ is good for:

  • Engaging with others who share your professional (and personal) interests, intra-program communication (as we heard, at least one SG program uses G+ to hold virtual meetings via Google Hangouts; since the service is directly connected to Google Docs, YouTube and other Google services, you can also share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and videos.)
  • If you’re a photographer, feel free to follow me and ask about the amazing communities and collaborative projects happening there.

Got more questions? Comment here and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if you have other social media to recommend to your Sea Grant colleagues, feel free to do that in the comments, too!



Handouts and additional resource material from Dec. 8-9 training workshops:

Posting videos to YouTube and making them handicap-accessible (Joe Cone)

 Storytelling: What it is, why it’s important (Joe Cone)

Basic editing tips & tricks (Rick Cooper)

Basic layout tips & tricks (Rick Cooper)

Taking good photos with any gear (Pat Kight)

Making optimum use of social media (Pat Kight)

  • The Pew Research Center’s Project on Internet and American Life – ongoing research into every aspect of life in the Internet age, from changing demographics in social media to shifts in technology. A good way to understand who’s using social media, how they’re accessing it and why we should engage with it.
  • Social media management tools – most recommended
    • Hootsuite – Write when convenient, schedule to post over time; share content among multiple social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest & more), get analytics reports. Free version allows you to work with up to three profiles.
    • Tweetdeck – Twitter management and analytics tool. Free.
    • Everypost: iOS app that lets you manage multiple social networks at once from your phone or tablet.
    • The popular  free link-shrinkers and (when used with Hootswuite) not only let you convert long URLs to short one, they now provide analytics about how those links get used.
  • See also: The post below for content from Sea Grant Week 2014 social media workshop


If you’re interested in the use of social media for science communication and public engagement, feel free to follow my shiny new Twitter account (, where I’ll be reporting/commenting from ScienceOnline Oceans in Miami this coming weekend.  Assuming the conference hotel wifi can stand up to the traffic from  200+ Tweeters …