Science communication with social media – evaluation and impact



Science communication in social media is becoming ever more important for researchers, especially for economists whose research findings often lead to political consequences and impact on societal action.

However, trusting merely to one’s guts when posting will often not produce the desired effects. The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement has published a guide that takes academics through the process of planning for an effective online communication. We have condensed the key findings for you below. 

First steps for your planning

  1. Make sure you have a clear purpose, and set yourself goals/ aims to measure against.
  2. Develop SMART objectives – things you think will help you achieve your purposes.
  3. Remember that evaluation should be ongoing, enabling you to improve what you do as well as assessing the impact of your work.
  4. Remember to use both quantitative and qualitative data.
  5. Consider your platform’s limits for evaluation.
  6. Be aware of actual reach vs potential reach – just because you have 100 Twitter followers doesn’t mean they will engage with your tweet!

Data collection

  1. Make use of digital tools for evaluating social media content, including those built into the platform.
  2. Dig down into the metrics looking at reach vs engagement, demographics and conversations. Do long term analysis, i.e. weekly or monthly analyses to show how things shift.


  1. Analyse the discussions that have emerged relating to your aims, using coding frameworks where possible.
  2. Remember that engagement has an impact on you and your work – so capture this too.
  3. Has your research process changed? Have your ideas of engagement been challenged or developed?
  4. Check with networks to see if behaviours/ thoughts have changed.

Good luck!

Date: March 2021
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